26 MAY 1995

Many of you have been following Expedition IceBound since my first journal and I am really glad that you are out there. Last week I told you that we were planning a party and that we would like you to send us a card to our office:
Expedition IceBound, P.O. Box 778, Mona Vale, NSW, AUSTRALIA.

We have already received cards! Thank you very much. Mary Ann is collecting them all and will be reading them to us. We would like to know where your school is, what your teacher's name is and what year your class is, and how many students are in your class. Would you include these details and your email address when you send us a card, please. I owe many of you answers and I don't have enough electricity to answer every email letter individually. I have answered many of your questions in my journals already and I'll just give you a list so if you want to look up some details you will know where to find them: Animals: see journal 5 May, Mawson's Birthday, almost every journal mentions animals.
The penguins are gone now and won't be back until mid October. The seals cruise by now and then and most of the birds have gone.
Communications: 3 March, Satellite Communications Doing laundry: 17 February, Talking to the World Electricity: 24 February, Things We Never... Fishing: 16 March, Inside Gadget Hut Footwear: 24 March, Nature is Harsh Our home: 31 March, Schools are Keeping... Taking a bath: 29 January, Alone in Antarctica Television: We do not have television. Weather: Every journal covers the weather. Its windy and cold. We have blizzards and snow.

This is a popular question. We don't have television. We listen to the radio. It is our second greatest source of entertainment. This week we had a great time with Philip Satchell of 5AN radio in Adelaide which is 891 on the AM dial. Philip had the grandson of Sir Douglas Mawson, Alun Thomas; the Director of the South Australia Museum, Chris Anderson; and one of the editors of MAWSON'S ANTARCTIC DIARIES, Eleanor Jacka on the program this week and I joined them on air for a discussion that lasted forty five minutes. It was very interesting for me and I was pleased to learn that in August the South Australian Museum will have an exhibition related to Mawson and Antarctica. They are planning a permanent "Mawson Gallery" that will be finished in late 1996.

Mobile Communications loaned us the most entertaining piece of equipment we have with us here in Antarctica, the Inmarsat M satellite telephone in a briefcase. We really enjoy talking on the satphone and answering questions from students all over the world. We have spoken with students in the United States, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. We have been able to talk to New Zealand schools the most because Telecom New Zealand is sponsoring Expedition IceBound for New Zealand schools. Margie and I are both amazed that we haven't yet found an Australian company to bring satphone calls to schools.
We have been doing what we can with our own resources.

" This week we are pleased to announce that the AAP Group will help us launch our Australian schools program of "electronic field trips to Antarctica." With our COMSAT Mobile Communications satphone we are able to give you a telephone call. The only things we have to worry about are having enough electricity and enough funds to reach as many schools as possible. Now that AAP is helping us other Australian companies may decide to help us too. AAP has been providing news to the Australian bases in Antarctica for more than 30 years. AAP (Australian Associated Press) began 60 years ago. It has developed over the years into a group of companies. AAP Information Services provides news, information and communication services to media, government, business and financial markets. AAP Communications Services is a leader in communications networking and satellite and microwave services. AAP Telecommunications is Australia's third largest long distance telephone company. Expedition IceBound is glad to welcome the AAP Group as our first sponsor of the Australian schools program and hope that many other companies will join them in bringing telephone calls from Antarctica to you.

Schools, radio, then computer games... on Tuesday I flew a Cessna 182 under the Sydney Harbour Bridge which was quite an experience. Of course it was only on my flight simulator on the computer but I had a great time making believe it was real. I did do something similar in real life. I flew with Dick Smith under the Harbour Bridge in his helicopter in 1992. I had those memories while I was using the flight simulator and it was fun. The computer beat me at draughts this week. I could almost consider this the worst part of the week. In addition to computer games we enjoy reading and music. The French lesson are still sitting on the shelf next to the replica of Captain Cook's "Endeavour" that I want to build this winter. Margie spends her time giving birth to bears. I haven't been telling you about that. I want Margie to write to you when we lose the sun.

I have mentioned MAWSON'S ANTARCTIC DIARIES before. I have a copy with me and I read what Mawson experienced every day. It is remarkable how similar our experiences have been to his. On the same day that we had a big blizzard, Saturday, Mawson had one in 1912. Mawson worried that the hut roof was going to get blown off. The blizzard on Saturday was a dandy. For 24 hours the wind averaged 70 to 80 knots and was gusting to over 110 knots. 110 knots is more than 200 kilometres per hour! The wind is violent, there is no other way to describe it. The katabatics this week were bad too, they aren't part of the blizzards, the katabatics are the winds that sweep down off the ice cap. They blew around 95 knots, stopped for a few seconds, then back to 95 knots. It was extremely rough. It felt like thee hut was actually bouncing around in between the bullets of wind.
Jamison High School asked about the howling of the wind. Yes, it howls, it screams, it roars. It gets on your nerves and you don't even realise what is making you feel uneasy. During the blizzard we were bombarded with small stones, lumps of ice and hard snow breaking off and hitting "Gadget Hut. We watched some great auroras this week. Each one is different and spectacular. We'd be glad to sit outside and watch them but it is too cold. We go out to our cold porch / bathroom where the satphone antenna goes out a window. From this window we watch the auroras. It isn't heated out there and the temperature can be minus 25. The windows ice up and we are constantly clearing them as much a possible. When the ice build up on the windows it blocks out the light.

A student from Gymea High School asked us, "How long do sunsets last?" This is a very good question. The answer may be more complicated that what seems obvious. The shape of the earth and the angle of the sun have a lot to do with it. Twice this week we had fantastic sunrises. Beautiful clear days without a cloud in the sky. The sunsets last for more than an hour right now and they are very colourful. The sun is very low on the horizon. According to the Nautical Almanac we lose the sun completely on the 10th of June. We enjoyed ten and a half hours of sunshine this week. That's sunshine, not daylight. The Nautical Almanac says that we had 3.3 hours of daylight on 25 May. We will miss the sun and I guess the ice on the windows won't matter after the sun goes away.

The temperature has dropped back into the minus twenties. It is minus 23 degree Celsius in our bathroom. It is absolutely freezing and we have to be quick when we use the facilities. Margie jumps back into the warm part of the hut really fast. The severe cold is making it hard to charge the batteries. When we start the generator we have to push it towards the wall and extend the exhaust pipe out through a hole in the wall. We jam the generator in position and it seems to work well. We have no fumes at all coming back into the hut. I ran the generator from 8:30 p.m. until midnight last Friday night. The batteries took a complete charge before they froze, so that was great. Today, the sea is frozen over again and this morning we had a period of no wind. I went down to the water's edge and saw a seal about 100 metres offshore. He was in a slight crack in the ice and coming up for air. He bobbed up and down about ten times. Each time he bobbed up quite high and took a look around. Then he disappeared again under the ice.

Several students from different schools have asked similar questions about odours. When we first arrived in Antarctica the crew complained about the smell from all the penguin and seal droppings. After two or three days we stopped noticing the odour. Snow has no odour. This week we got a real smelly surprise. The wind went north westerly for about 15 minutes and we could smell a very strong sulphur odour which is quite weird. We're trying to guess where it came from. There is certainly no volcanic activity anywhere near us as far as we know. Mount Erebus is the nearest volcano. Perhaps we will never know where the smell came from.
The best part of the week: The stove tune up we did last week means the oven is working and we had pizza and carrot cake this week. Good news: We are now confident that our toilet paper will last until the end of the year. We were worried for a while that we were going to run out but it will last, just until the end of the year! Frost nip report:
Both Margie and I have experienced some slight frost nip on our cheeks this week. It's from being outside. It is nothing serious but it reminds us about how careful we have to be.

Speaking of being careful, we suffered from lack of oxygen when the heater was going this week. We felt fine but it was obvious there was no oxygen because I used six matches before I could light our kerosene lamp. The oxygen level was so low that as soon as I lit a match it went out. I thought it was a bad bunch of matches at first but then I realised it was a lack of oxygen. We opened the hut up and fixed the problem. It was an interesting experience and surprising that we both felt okay. Send us a Mid Winter's card, we would love to hear from you.

Keep warm,
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