Pete McCabe is playing a dual role this trip as Field Leader and one of two carpenters. He spent the last 7 weeks helping to plan this expedition in Hobart,and managing the design and ordering of materials for the extension of theSørensen hut, this year’s construction project. The Sørensen Hut which the party use as a refuge will be doubled in size to accommodate a bedroom and laboratory for on site restoration of artefacts that are uncovered from Mawson’s Hut. After the floor platform is laid Pete and the team will eagerly await the arrival of Orion, and the delivery of the freezer panels to complete the construction. Pete has spent 14 months previously living in Antarctica, working from two of Australia’s Bases. He spent the full summer and winter at Casey stationworking as a carpenter completing a new field equipment store. He then spent two months at Davis laying foundations for a new accommodation building and then guided staff in the field, wandering the beautiful Vestfold Hills with science staff and TV crews. He appeared on Channel Ten’s Totally Wild and Scope Antarctic series’. When at home on the far north coast of NSW he splits his work time between building custom homes on the Tweed Coast, and attending corporate team-building seminars as a guest motivational speaker. In his leisure he surfs, rock climbs, plays guitar and harmonica and is a regular yoga student.
Dr Tony Stewart is the team’s medical officer. He also handles the satellite communications, and helps out with the other activities at Cape Denison. Tony is a pilot, and so has enthusiastically has taken on the task of searching for remains of the Vickers REP Monoplane that was brought here in 1911, and last seen in 1975, in the ice between Mawson’s Huts and Boat Harbour. The plane never flew in Antarctica. It was damaged during a test flight in Australia, and was then converted to work as an ‘air tractor’ towing sleds for Mawson’s expeditioners. Tony splits his working life between working as an assistant surgeon and as a public health specialist at the Centre for International Health of the Macfarlane Burnet Institute. Now based in Melbourne, he has worked throughout the Pacific, Indonesia, East Timor, the Congo and Southeast Asia, as a medical officer and epidemiologist. In December 2004 he was sent to Banda Aceh with WHO to establish and coordinate the epidemic early warning and response system following the Indian Ocean tsunami. He is on call for the Global Outbreak And Response Network, which deals with such things as bird flu pandemics and ebola.
Michelle Berry is a materials conservator specialising in objects conservation with a strong interest in archaeological conservation. She has worked for several years as a conservator at Museum Victoria in Melbourne where she has been responsible for the conservation of a diverse range of artefacts from the Museum’s collections. When not working in Melbourne Michelle has been involved for many years as a materials conservator with the Dakhleh Oasis Project in Egypt, an interdisciplinary archaeological project which is looking at the development of human life in the Sahara. She has also worked on other archaeological sites in Thailand and in Australia. This season at Mawson’s Huts Michelle will be downloading data from the environmental monitoring system located inside the main hut and the work hut, continuing the monitoring program which includes timber thickness,corrosion rates and vibration loads. Other work will focus on assessing the types of deterioration suffered by the artefacts located inside the huts to best determine the range of conservation treatments which can be carried out in the new conservation lab in following seasons. Michelle will be working with Anne McConnell, the archaeologist on the team to pull together the documentation on the Huts to prepare a long term plan for the next phase of work required to stabilise the huts. Michelle will also be working closely with Anne to work out a method for excavating ice within the hut which will both expose artefacts and their location as well as enable the documentation of the stratigraphy with in the ice layers which will provide important information the use of the huts by Mawsons team and the changes made by the various visitors to the huts over the past century.
Jon Tucker is a kiwi, now living in Tasmania, and is one of the two builders in the team, primarily adding an accommodation room and field lab to the small ‘Sørensen’ field hut (out of sight across the ridge from Mawsons hut). The team is camping in tents and sometimes anticipates the chance to move ‘indoors”. Any remaining time will be spent on continued maintenance work to the older historic structures. Jon is a former college history teacher come adventurer who has sailed over 80,000 miles aboard his traditional ketch – the only home he and his wife Barbara have ever owned. Together they raised and partly home schooled fives ons who are now scattered around the globe adventuring on the high seas. Jon’s interest in Cape Denison began two years ago when he hitched a ride with two of his boys as cabin boy on a sailing trip from Hobart to Mawson’s hut on his eldest son’s tiny home-built yacht, Snow Petrel. He is looking forward to the challenge of working in the windiest place on the planet.
This is Brett Jarrett‘s fourth expedition to Antarctica. He has previously worked on Weddell seals in the Vestfold Hills and as a marine mammal and bird identification specialist on the Peninsula and East Antarctica. His primary job at Mawson’s Huts this season is to photograph various stages of construction to the Sørensen hut extension as well as recording images inside Mawson’s main hut and the surrounding landscape. He has been a keen observer of Southern Ocean wildlife since childhood and has a wealth of knowledge on marine bird and mammal identification. Working as a full-time artist he has to date co-authored and illustrated works for several guides including ‘Whales, Dolphins and Seals’ ; ‘Marine Mammals of the World – a guide to their identification’ ; ‘ Encyclopaedia of Marine Mammals’ and ‘The Complete Guide to Antarctic Wildlife’; all are testament to his life-long interest and passion for southern ocean wildlife and the environment. On return to Australia Brett will be dedicating fourteen months towards a solo exhibition on his Commonwealth Bay experience with paintings focused on Mawson’s hut, landscape and its relative wildlife. Proceeds from the sale of artwork will go to the Mawson’s Hut’s Foundation to help fund further expeditions in the future
Dr Peter Morse is a computer visualisation specialist and media artist, who has worked on Antarctic heritage visualisation for many years. He has worked at the University of Melbourne and the University of Western Australia as a research academic and lecturer. He is the creator of the stereoscopic video programme “Home of the Blizzard” (in concert with the Mawson Collection, South Australian Museum) – part of the permanent exhibition “Islands to Ice: The Southern Oceans and Antarctica” at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery. This digital reconstruction of Frank Hurley’s 1911-14 Australasian Antarctic Expedition stereoscopic photographic record will be cross referenced with newly generated material derived from the 2007 Mawson’s Huts Foundation expedition. Peter will be shooting stereoscopic (3D) video and digital still imagery, as well as 360 immersive video using a special camera system used for planetarium projection. The capture of this material will enable him to construct a 3D virtual environment, accurately recording details of the Cape Denison site, its current state and its archaeological/heritage features. This will have multiple outcomes -from use as a resource suitable for museum display, to scientific visualisation applications, enabling a synthesis of a wide variety of data sets, enabling researchers and conservators to visualise the site in insightful new ways and assisting in conservation management and planning. He will also be helping to construct the new hut, shoot a cooking documentary entitled “Freezing the Menu” – inspired by his colleagues attempts at remote area gourmandising, and generally pitch in around the place. He is thrilled to be part of this adventure. Peter’s own antarctica webpages are at http://www.petermorse.com.au/
Steve Beaton is the electrician on the expedition. He hails from Darwin but prefers heading south for summer to get away from the hot and humid tropics. His main task at Cape Denison is to install an Australian Wiring Standards electrical system into the existing Sorensen Hut and the new extension. Primarily this will be run from a specially designed petrol generator, but he will also be investigating installing a hybrid sustainable energy system using solar and wind generation with the petrol generator as a back-up. There are numerous obstacles to be negotiated when installing such systems in the Antarctic. One would think the “Home of the Blizzard” would be an ideal place for wind generation, however gales there can literally tear apart even the most robust machine. Storage of power is another issue with the acid in conventional batteries freezing, expanding and destroying their casings. The Foundation is very concerned about making a comfortable working environment for future expeditions while keeping it’s environmental impact to the barest minimum.
Anne McConnell is the archaeologist with the 2007-08 Mawsons Huts Expedition. Anne has worked as an archaeologist since the late 1970s, initially in Aboriginal archaeology and later in historical archaeology. Anne currently works as a consultant, but until 1995 she worked for the government. Anne also has an earth sciences background and has worked in the area of geoarchaeology, using geological expertise to solve archaeological problems such as reconstructing paleoenvironmental conditions, materials analysis (eg, ochres, bricks) and sourcing stone tools. Anne has worked on a variety of archaeological sites, mainly in Australia but also in New Zealand, Jordan and France. Anne’s main interests as an archaeologist are in heritage management and the archaeology of remote and rural areas and industrial and scientific based sites. Sometimes these interests come together, for example in 2003 when she and a small project team prepared a conservation management plan for the Sarah Island convict settlement in Macquarie Harbour, Tasmania; recording historic gold mining sites; or through current work developing management systems for the historic cultural heritage of Wellington Park, which is the backdrop to Hobart; or through being involved in a project such as the conservation of Mawsons Huts, Antarctica. This year at the Mawsons Huts sites, Anne will be working closely with the materials conservator, Michelle Berry. The main task is to evaluate the work that has been done to date in terms of recording and analysing the site,primarily the artefacts inside and outside the five buildings left by Mawsons 1911-1913 Expedition, and to provide recommendations on the priorities and approaches to ongoing artefact excavation, recording and preservation. Although a considerable amount of work has been undertaken in the last 20 years and there is now a management plan for the Mawsons huts site, there are still many questions about how to best preserve the artefacts associated with the site, and because of the ice and snow cover inside and outside the huts there are still many artefacts that have not yet been documented. Since c.1997 a lot of the conservation work at Mawsons Hutsite has concentrated on the preservation of the main buildings and now that this has been largely achieved, there is time to focus more on the artefacts associated with the site. As well as helping understand the Site and how Mawsons team lived and worked at Commonwealth Bay, the artefact recording and evaluation is useful in determining the sensitivity of the site. From this information, Anne will be zoning the main huts area into areas of various archaeological sensitivity which will be used to help guide tourism at the site, including by identifying those areas which are sensitive to trampling and other damage and which should be avoided. This is particularly important as visitors to the site (tourists, casual visitors and scientists)have the greatest potential to damage the site, and it is important that the impacts of visitation can be kept to a minimum to ensure the site survives for others to visit in the future.