Celebrating in style: Back row, Dave Nadin, of NSW, Anya Reading, of the ACT, Rimero Logares, from Argentina, Pat Brennan, of NSW, Eddy Birkett, of NSW, Andrew Klekociuk, of Tasmania, Allan McAllisterThe station leader at Australia’s Davis Station said being so far from home, expeditioners make a special effort to celebrate Christmas in style.
She’s had Christmas in remote places before but nothing quite like this, she says.
“This is quite amazing. It’s really nice but it will be a bit sad as well, but at the moment it’s very happy and positive,” she said from Davis this week.
There were 74 expeditioners sharing the Christmas festivities yesterday.
“We’ve got a lot of first- timers and they are still excited and getting out and about on Sundays,” she said.
During the summer, the crew works 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but Christmas Day is one day they all have off.
“It’s a big day. We have a Kris Kringle, so everybody draws a name out of a hat and everybody gets a present from under the Christmas tree. So every night after work the trades workshops have been humming with people busily making presents. They have to be home-made: lots of photo frames, lots of candle holders and there’s a lot of knitting of scarves and beanies,” she said.
Santa – an expeditioner chosen for his girth and beard, this year a bloke nicknamed Yogi – arrived in a ute with his “reindeer”, presents were exchanged, carols sung and lunch eaten around 3pm.
Tables are set with linen tablecloths and everyone dresses in their best.
The menu includes turkey, crayfish and ham, vegetables, rum balls and pudding.
The food at Davis is excellent, she says. The staff of the Chinese Antarctic base has visited by helicopter three times since she arrived in early December because they love the food.
Fresh food supplies are eaten very quickly, after which most is frozen, except for lettuces grown in the station’s hydroponic garden.
The week before Christmas had both snow and balmy conditions of -1deg.
Antarctica is still hemmed in by sea-ice, which will last for about another month.
From her window, Ms Robertson looks out on a “giant ice rink” spread out for 10km to a horizon punctuated by massive icebergs.
Every day, she watches penguins playing on the ice floes.
“They’re very inquisitive and, although we’ve got rules about approaching them, they come straight over to us,” Ms Robertson said. Originally from Victoria, Ms Robertson, 35, began her career in environmental management and national park management before being appointed to Antarctica, where she is spending her first year.
As the largest of Australia’s three Antarctic stations and the one in the most sheltered location, Davis is the station carrying out most of the scientific research.
Ms Robertson will be one of 18 expeditioners to spend the winter at Davis.
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