ANTARCTICA: Swimming in -1.8C Water

This week we celebrate Mid Winters Day,the Mid Winters Solstice,with a unique Antarctic Tradition.The Mid Winter Swim, something that I have been looking forward to for ages.I don’t know why, it was sobloody cold, it hurt. The temps on Mid Winters day were -29.3C and the water was a freezing -1.8C, I must be crazy to swim in this. 


Chainsawing the Sea Ice

Why are the Mid Winter Celebrations so important to expeditioners? Well it is a milestone for us. Here at Mawson the sun set on the 19th of June and we wont see it again for 10 days. It is now that we are in the middle of the darkest, coldest part of our stay in Antarctica. It’s around this time that you really miss home, you miss your loved ones, you miss the beach sand and you miss your dog, well I know I do. This is when your Antarctic family come together for  the best dinner and festivities of the year. We still have a long way to go before we return to the warmth of home, but for now, this is home and this is our family and now I realise that, so we celebrate. 


Preparing the pool

One thing we do for a bit of a laugh is send out invitations to our celebrations. It’s all a bit of fun as we are well aware how isolated we are right now, there is no way in, or out. This year I sent a few invites out to some of my favourite YouTubers and to my suprise, got a few great replies from Nicole Eddy and Louis Cole.


Getting ready for the swim


Yep its as cold as i thought


Shane’s Polar Plunge


Yep it was freezing

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Antarctica: Walking To Work In A Blizzard

Antarctica is a magical place, its raw natural beauty, it’s remoteness, it’s ability to bring the best out of everyone who visits here, but it’s not always perfect, Antarctica is a wild, untamed natural environment and that is one of the reasons why I come here.

It is unpredictable and here, you can see and feel the full force of mother nature.

Working in this environment brings some very unique challenges, simple things, like don’t leave you tools lying around, they will either freeze or blow away, your drinking water freezes in its bottle, and simply getting to work can be an adventure.

This day I needed to get to work in a blizzard. It is blowing between 40 to 60knots,

which is around 70 to 110kmph. With the blowing snow our visibility is less than 100m, this puts us in the “Field Travel Condition” of CAUTION, meaning we are restricted to station limits and we should call ahead before we go outside.

Here I walk from The Emergency Vehicle Shelter to the Operations Building a short couple hundred metre walk.

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My Bedroom in Antarctica

Do you live in an Igloo?

Would you believe thats a question I have actually been asked. I am certain is was intended as a joke, but it does raise a legitimate question about how we live down here. So I thought, I will do a series of short videos about our day to day life, to show what we do and how we live in the most isolated and extreme place on earth.

We live in a specially designed building which we call “The Red Shed”. The Red Shed is built on a system called AANBUS, Australian Antarctic Building System. The walls are almost 1 meter thick and are made up four pieces of freezer wall with an air gap in between. This is unique to the Australian Antarctic Program and is great at keeping us warm inside.

Tattered Passport

The Red Shed Mawsom

My room is number 21 and I am on the top floor over looking East Arm and one of the Wind Turbines. Our rooms are quite small, which is fine as I spend most of my spare time in the communal living areas, like the bar, pool room, dog room and around the Dart board. We have all the creature comforts in our rooms like phones, internet connection, power outlets, and a comfy single bed. You would have seen in the video that I have a Humidifier, this is because Antarctica even with all this ice around is the driest place on earth. The Humidity outside is around 20% and inside the building can drop to as low as 10% making it quite difficult to sleep at night time, so a simple way to bring a little bit of humidity into my room is to have a humidifier. This one is real nice as I can add a few drops of essential oils, which is a great way to have a few nice smells around. As there are no plants other than the our Hydroponics room, or any natural smells, our sense of smell is heightened and we can smell the slightest change in the way the wind blows, blowing the smell of the diesel generators or even when the doctor is roasting his coffee beans, everyone all over station can smell them.

As you can see my room looks just like your room back home, however I do I have a few things that are unique to Antarctica. The “Normal, Caution, Danger, Stop” sign you sore, is our Field Travel Conditions guidelines. This outlines when you are allowed to go outside. Normal is basically fine weather and all travel is ok, Caution is visibility is less than 100m, and wind is up to 40knots, you are only allowed around station limits, Danger, visibility is less than 30m, winds are above 60knots. This is a blizzard and you need permission to go outside for urgent requirements only and STOP, it’s really, really bad out and no one is allowed outside.

I also have a few signs like The Mawson Station Search Zones, Fire Hydrant locations and Building and Structures. I need this for my roles as Electrician, Fire Chief and Emergency Response Team member. As we are so isolated, if anything like a fire, or someone goes missing, you can’t call the authorities, we are it, so we are our own emergency response.

I also have a few little things from home. My little Loch Ness Monsters, I bought them in Scotland in 2012, when my wife and I were on a road trip around the UK. They travel with us everywhere. The pink one is Crazy Ness and the blue one is Cool Ness. They sat on the dash board of the Kombi on the road trip across Australia. I also have some Tibetan Prayer Flags that I bought when I was in Nepal in 2014. The prayer flags remind me of the incredible spiritual journey I had through Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet in 2014.

So that is a run down on my room. I hope you enjoyed the video and the little insight into what life is like down here. If you have any questions about Antarctica, about what I am doing here, or about life down here, please ask in the comments and I will see if I can do a video on it for you.

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Peace Out,