Tuesday, June 30, 2009


I was cordially invited to the Mid-winter Dinner and Day of Festivities at Australia’s Casey Antarctic Station by an overwintering friend.

"The day’s celebrations begin mid-morning with a brunch, the chance to experience a quick swim in the crisp waters of the Southern Ocean, a sumptuous banquet in the early evening, and then a night of entertainment showcasing the talents of the 2009 wintering group.

Unfortunately, access to Antarctica at this time of the year presents some formidable challenges. Should you decide to accept this invitation you will need to supply your own transport either by sea or air. With the limited hours of daylight available, flying into Casey is restricted to the period between 11:30 and 13:30.

If you decide to come by sea, you may have to cross up to sixty kilometres of sea ice and possible open water before you reach the station. Should you successfully negotiate these challenges, we will make you most welcome.

Dress: Penguin Suit (National Dress)

Time: For maximum enjoyment of this event, it is suggested you aim to arrive the previous day between the twilight hours of 11a
m and 2pm as there will be darkness at all other times"

My best option was to negotiate with another friend, who had recently returned from his stint as a helicopter pilot on Antarctica. Admitting defeat we decided to do the second best and to celebrate solstice on ice at a nearer location, Franz Josef Glacier.

The terminal face of Franz Josef Glacier.

Our friend has worked as a glacier guide for years, so I was in good hands as we headed out for a walk. From the car park we followed the Waiho riverbed towards the ice. Signs of the glacier growing and retreating were everywhere. You could see a line in the bush, the forest growing thicker and older above it. We walked on gravel that the ice had transported and worn down.

I saw beautiful stone everywhere.

Rock worn out by the ice...

Layers of time in the rock - time turned on its side.

Golden age?

You could even see the Great Alpine Fault as a dramatic canyon on the mountainside on either side of us!

We walked right to the ice before we put the crampons on our boots. To start we headed straight up on steps cut in ice. The glacier was covered with rock near the terminal face, but eventually we came to pure ice and could see things like this...

Shiny wavy walls of ice.

Patterns of clear ice and crystals.

For more photos check this out.

Even got a great brag picture of me!

The following day included a helicopter tour over both Fox and Franz Josef glaciers. That was great fun and amazingly beautiful and powerful.

Fox Glacier.

Fox from above.

On the Fox neve.


  1. The stripy layers in the rock reminded me of some previously planned but never realized felting projects, wanting to build up thick layers of felt in layers of different colours, then cutting into it. I've always worked with layers, but usually just played with having two sides to the finished object + a beautiful cut edge emphasizing the effect. Working on it!

  2. when we wandered near the glacier a couple of years ago we amused ourselves by making stacks of rocks
    it's a wonderful place...


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