Winter is truly here – the supply ship was unloaded back in February, we had our last freshies (fresh fruit and veg) delivery at the start of March and the last flight to/from the ice was about 6 weeks ago. There are 15 of us wintering over this year, 11 Antarctica New Zealand staff and 4 Antarctic Heritage Trust conservators.
On the 24th April we had the last sunset – the last time we'll see the sun poke her head over the horizon! The day after was also very special day - ANZAC day - and without a sunrise we held a dawnless service. Some of our colleagues from the US McMurdo Station, over the hill, joined us in remembering, commemorating and honouring servicemen and women who have served for their country.
This year I had a special role – as the only female Kiwi I was nominated to lower the flag to half-mast with the youngest Aussie on base, Rhiana. It was negative 50 degrees in the wind so the service in our dining hall, but we donned our ECW (extreme cold weather) gear and went outside to lower the flag – it was very surreal and an amazing experience.
Our Winter Base Leader Bruce played the bag-pipes during the ceremony and Mark from McMurdo Station bugled the last post. Last time I was on the ice we held the service outside but I think it was more intimate this year with us all in the same room and surrounded by the aroma of freshly baked ANZAC biscuits!
What am I looking forward to most this winter? Well that's got to be the special treat of seeing a few Auroras over the base – we usually get a prediction from the forecasters when they will happen so keep an eye on our webcams just in case!