25th September, 1995

Hi kids!
It's Margie here! Don has been writing the journals for the past eight months with help from Mary Ann and I thought it was about time I had a say! The past week has been very exciting with lots of sunshine and the feeling that things are changing rapidly.

The sun is rising before 6 a.m. and setting after 8 p.m. with long twilights. This is making us a bit tired as we are getting to bed a bit later and getting up earlier each day. Following our problems last week with Huey, Dewey and Louey (our batteries), we decided to flatten them completely with a steady 1 amp load over four days. We left the radio on, on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday which brought them down to 10 volts. We then ran our engine generator for thirteen hours which topped them right up. This appears to have reconditioned them. Our Solarex solar panels are now keeping them topped up, which is great.

Hopefully things will run smoothly from now on. It would be very lonely down here without our COMSAT satellite phone and the radio!

We are still receiving Australian and New Zealand AM radio stations at night. We regularly listen to 2UE. The signal skips through space but when we lose the night in weeks to come, we will no longer be able to receive their signals. Radio Australia broadcasts special long distance signals on higher frequencies up to 15 MHz (megahertz) to all around the world. We listen to Radio Australia regularly during the day to keep up with world news. Did you know that lots of the world's frogs are dying! They have survived for 23 million years but now our pollution is dirtying the water they live in! That came over Radio Australia.

We phoned Scotty at New Zealand's Scott Antarctic Base this week. They are busy preparing a runway on the sea-ice to land the world's largest aircraft on wheels, the huge American "Galaxy Starlifter"'. All the flights to Scott Base so far have been with "Hercules" on sWs. That will be an incredible sight! To see a giant plane arrive in Antarctica and landing on the ice and unloading hundreds of tonnes of equipment and people. Scotty flies out soon with new base personnel arriving for the coming summer season. He suggested we call in on their 7 p.m. Friday night high frequency radio sked with the American Amundsen Scott Base at the South Pole and the Davis, Mawson and Casey Australian Bases. I thought that would be exciting to speak to people at the South Pole, so we agreed.

At 6.45 p.m. on Friday, I had a phone conference with Radio Bedrock at the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children at Camperdown. It was lot's of fun. It was their last and final broadcast before moving to a new hospital building at Westmead. We will be speaking to them again for their first broadcast from Westmead on October 23rd. At 7 p.m. on Friday, we turned our phone off and our radio on to break into a very exciting group. Scotty was there as well as personnel from Casey and Davis Bases.

We were speaking to them all and to our surprise, up came the "Aurora Australis" Australia's Antarctic resupply ship. She had just resupplied Macquarie Island and is now on her way in stormy weather, to Casey Base. She was at 53 degrees south latitude and 145 degrees east longitude, a few hundred miles north of us. Don and I were really excited to have all these groups on the radio, all in Antarctica. It made us feel part of a very special group. Following our big chat, Scott, Davis and Casey Bases started a game of darts over the radio. They wanted us to join in but we didn't have a dart set. We promised to make one this week out of bits of wire and some feathers and join them next Friday night.

This chat hour has been going on all year and we knew nothing about it! It would have been great fun during the dark of winter. We are already looking forward to next Friday.

On Tuesday, a blizzard of 110 knots, hit with a very low barometer at 949 millibars. On Wednesday, the barometer was still low but the wind stopped completely. The temperature went up to 9 degrees Celsius.
It was fantastic and the best day we've had since February. It felt like summer. I went over to Grantholme Hut, an old A.N.A.R.E. hut, and cleaned up a bit inside after digging the snow away from the door. I found two old deck chairs. We sat outside on them for a while with our feet up, just relaxing in the sun on a proper chair for the first time since leaving Hobart.

It was incredible! The snow was melting on the rocks everywhere, mixing with the penguin droppings. The smell was strong, as if the rookeries were full of penguins but they are still weeks away. seal made a visit without telling us. We found a hollow in the snow where it lay with tell-tale droppings and some blood. It must have had bleeding teeth. Whilst returning to Gadget Hut late that afternoon, we heard a huge thunder rumble. Don went up onto Memorial Hill to check for any icebergs that might have broken off the ice cliffs. There was nothing. We thought the noise could have been a big crevasse forming on the plateau. Strangely for the second time, we had a very strong smell of sulphur, just like you would have from volcanic eruption or geothermal activity.

It was very strange. Quite mysterious. We have no explanation for it and we look forward to speaking to some experts about it in the future.

Keeping house in Antarctica is quite different from Australia and New Zealand. I use an egg flip, hammer, screwdriver and gas flame torch at times just to clean the windows. I use a hammer and ice axe to clean the floor and to clear the ice from inside the cupboards. We are into week 36 now and I am counting the days. I can't wait to see and use my first flushing toilet or stand under a hot shower or walk on carpet in bare feet in a warm room.

It has been hard living here. At times I wonder why I am here and even though the sun is back, I still feel homesick. Don finds it a lot easier and, believe it or not, is getting worried that we've got just over three months left. He says there is so much to do before we leave! I can't wait to get out but it will be fun to see the penguins again and I love the sun. Don says he will miss the night for sleeping but I like 24-hour daylight. The wind never seems as strong when it is light.

I made flve teddy bears this week. A 40 cm ''Buttercup'", a 10cm ''Meika'", and 15cm "Scotty", "Bik"' and '"Pola".

The total sun for this week is 53.5 hours.

The funniest part of the week was when Don slipped over outside and I caught him.

The best meal was fruit bun (I remembered the yeast!).

See you next week, have a good holiday and

stay warm ,
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