(part 1 of 4)
late February 2001 the MV Polar Bird arrived in Horseshoe Harbour
for the annual resupply. The arrival of the MV Polar Bird marked
the last great milestone of my Antarctic adventure and the start
of the trip home after living at Mawson for 499 days.
The MV Polar Bird in Horseshoe Harbour
during resupply 2001.
the weeks leading up to the arrival of the MV Polar Bird I had been
packing all my belongings into cardboard boxes and tying up any
loose ends. I was amazed how my personal belongings slowly distributed
themselves across the station, in Aeronomy, in my room, or scattered
about other places. All the parcels for things that I had bought
as well as the gifts I had received added to what I already had.
I was sure I didnt have this much stuff when I arrived!
parallel with packing and finishing work tasks I made sure I went
out on a few short day trips to some of my favourite places around
Mawson. By visiting my favourite places with some of my friends
I wanted to say some last goodbyes and to reflect on all the places
I had been and all the things I had done. There were just so many
places to go and savour the moments. Mt Henderson was my favourite
field hut with a window that looked 50km down the coast to the Colbeck
Archipelago or I could admire the majestic view from behind MT Parsons.
I could spend a quiet few nights on Bechervaise Island amongst the
Adelie penguin rookery or spend an afternoon climbing the mountains
of the Northern Masson Range. Just off the coast from Mawson was
another favourite place, Welch Island, which offered inspiring 360
degree views of the plateau, east and west along the coast and out
of the 1000s of Adelie penguins on Welch Island
the sea ice was long gone, Rhonda, Garry and I arranged to be dropped
off on Welch Island by the Seeka workboat. To get to
the top we had to walk carefully through a huge colony of Adelie
penguins and then up a ridge to the top of the island, 129m above
the top I climbed up the cairn and soaked up the visual feast
before me. All above me was the brilliant blue sky, around
me was the deep blue sea and in the distance was the seemingly
endless white ice of the plateau stretching away into the
distance to the South Pole. On the horizon to the east I could
see the hundreds of icebergs that surround the Auster Rookery
and to the west I could just make out the Islands of the Colbeck
Archipelago. There seemed like there could be no more beautiful
place on earth to be and I felt a deep sense of satisfaction
that I had made the most of my time there but at the same
time I felt sad because I was unlikely to be able to return
for another winter.
on station while I was packing I often thought back to the
day I arrived in October 1999 when I got out of the helicopter
and slowly walked up the road to the red shed gazing in amazement
at the buildings and trying to comprehend my new surroundings.
in the wide open spaces on the top of Welch Island.
now, everything at Mawson looked so familiar as if it had been burned
into my brain. In the last few months it had become hard to appreciate
things that I had looked at and lived with for so long. The ice
cliffs in East and West Bays were as spectacular as they had ever
been but I realised that I had lost the instant sense of wonder
and awe I had when I first arrived. I was saddened that I had lost
the ability to appreciate my immediate surroundings and I often
tried hard through photography to appreciate where I was. The more
I thought, the more I realised that there was only one solution
to go home.
continues in part 2