19 MAY 1995

It seems like I spend all my time telling you about the weather. It is the dominant force in our lives right now and affects everything we do. Neither of us have had a lot of experience with snow and ice. Students who live in colder countries than Australia are going to laugh but we have had some big surprises this week. Let's just say that we are learning about ice the hard way, by trial and error.

LEARNING ABOUT ICE The first thing that surprised us this week was an incredibly high tide. We've never seen anything like it. It answered one of our nagging questions. There is an area of ice that Mawson called a "lake." We haven't been able to understand why until this big tide. On Monday we walked over the hill towards Mawson's Hut and there it was, a great big lake where no lake had been before. The sea water had flowed over the area and frozen into an ice lake. We started walking out on it, not realising the consequences and all of a sudden we were breaking through the ice. Our legs were in water about 60 cm deep. It was quite a funny scene. Every step we took on the ice we broke through. We had to go the last 12 metres back to the shore with very wet and soggy feet. Thank goodness it was only 60 cm deep!

The big tide and high winds did just what we expected them to do to the ice in Boat Harbour. It took it all away again. We walked on that water just one week ago.

We checked our Sorel boots and rewaxed them after the splashing around in the lake. Boy did we get a surprise when we took the innersoles and inner liners out of the boots. They weren't just wet, they were full of ice! We thought our feet were cold when we put our boots on because we have been leaving them in the cold porch/bathroom area. We have been putting on boots with innersoles and liners half frozen! So after removing the ice and drying the innersoles and liners we have nice warm boots to put on.

We had a huge blizzard last weekend with winds up to 115 knots. It lasted almost 18 hours and seemed very vicious. "Gadget Hut" survived very well and strangely enough Margie and I were relatively relaxed inside. There was very thick drift and a rapid increase in the temperature. The temperature had been hovering around the minus 25 mark all last week and it shot up to minus 4 degrees Celsius. The barometer went off the scale at 948 millibars. It was as low as it could record and it just stopped. It could go no further.

The high temperatures caused yet another melt down inside the hut. Water was everywhere and we collected nearly one litre of water off the space blanket that we have put above our bunk. We cover the bunk with space blankets now all the time. This week the temperature averaged minus 10. Our weather data disappeared going into the computer. We are convinced that the static electricity is causing the problem. We see sparks of electricitiy more than a centimetre long and can hear a "crack" with the spark. It is quite surprising. We don't have to worry about petrol fumes being ignited by these sparks since we have a diesel generator!

After the blizzard cleared we checked on Margie's iceberg. It had split and bits had fallen away. We could see the interior of the iceberg and it was brown! It was obviously dirt that it had picked up coming along the Antarctic plateau for hundreds of kilometres before it turned into an iceberg. It was interesting to see our white iceberg turn brown!

We went for a walk when the wind died down. Mawson's Hut is now covered with snow. Margie had a lot of trouble walking around and she fell over about six times. It is really a bit of comedy to see us falling over in the snow and it gave us a good laugh.

We had one fantastic night this week. A full moon, not a breath of wind and 10 cm of new snow created a spectacular landscape. We were so inspired we went out walking for the first time at night. The moonlight reflecting on the snow made it almost like daylight. It was a very special occasion. I don't know if I'll ever see anything like it again.

It would be nice to have more daylight since we are down to about only 5 hours a day now. Very soon now we will be in total darkness for ten weeks.

To celebrate mid-winter we are planning a party. It will be on the 21st of June. It would really be great if every class that is following Expedition Ice-Bound were to send us a "Happy Mid-Winter" card in the mail to P.O. Box 778, Mona Vale, NSW 2103, AUSTRALIA. We believe there are thousands of you but we are not sure. We are wondering if there are really only a hundred, so IF YOU ARE FOLLOWING ICEJOURNAL AND YOU REALLY LIKE IT, COULD YOU PLEASE SEND US A MID-WINTER'S CARD. IT IS GOING TO BE A BIG DAY FOR US AND YOUR CARDS WILL GIVE US A WARM AND FRIENDLY FEELING DURING OUR CELEBRATION.

We are planning the food and events for our mid-winter celebration and thought we better service the stove for the first time. The stove is a pressure kerosene stove that was made by Broadwater Stoves in Ballina, New South Wales. Most people who by these terrific stoves use them in yachts. We took it all apart and cleaned it. The whole job took several hours. I made a little mistake with one of the burners and had to do it all over again but I'm glad to say it is now back together and working just fine.

We had the chance to speak with students from Roseville College in Roseville NSW on Wednesday. More that 200 girls from years 5, 7 and 12 assembled in their school hall. IBM provided a technician and equipment so that the phone call could be heard by everyone assembled in the hall. The quality was so good that I think the girls had a hard time believing that we were really calling from Antarctica.

One student asked what we do all day. Margie explained that everything we do takes time. Just washing the clothes is a major project. At home you can drop your laundry into the washing machine. We have to step back in time to an era similar to Mawson's time down here. Think for a minute about all the things you take for granted that are really connected to electricity.

The best meal of the week: Last week's spaghetti bolognaise! We are still eating the batch that we cooked last week.

The funniest thing that we did this week was trying to walk on thin ice.

The strangest thing that happened was a 30 second bullet of wind. It was blowing about 25 knots, then from nowhere a gust of 79 knots that lasted only 30 seconds, then it was back to 25 knots.

The best part of the week was checking our Eveready battery stocks. They are still high. We use our CD's and tapes all the time and we still have plenty of batteries left thanks to the support Eveready has given Expedition Ice-Bound.

I'll be looking forward to receiving your cards. Until next week...

Keep warm,

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