Antarctic expeditioners to have a truly white Christmas

Thu Dec 24, 2009 2:29pm EST
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By Pauline Askin

CAPE DENISON, Antarctica (Reuters) - The closest Australian expeditioners to Antarctica will get to a nativity scene this Christmas is watching thousands of Adelie penguins tending to newly hatched youngsters.

There are no Christmas carols, no avenues lined with decorations and certainly no pine trees on the icy, eastern Antarctic plateau where the 10 members of the Mawson's Huts Foundation will be spending the festive season this year, about 3,000 km (1,870 miles) away from any Australian mainland.

Being summer, the daylight here also lasts for 24 hours.

Archaeologist Jody Steele is used to spending weeks at a time in isolation in remote areas of Australia's bush, but this will be her first Christmas at Cape Denison, working with others to preserve the relics of Australian explorer Sir Douglas Mawson's 1911-1914 expedition to the area.

Although the area is a world away from her home in warm Victoria state, Steele said she was delighted to experience her first truly white Christmas.

"This will be the first time I will wake up to snow and ice, so it's a whole new world for me," she said as she washed clothes in a bucket of hot water usually used for showering.

"I'm hoping to have clean, well cleanish, thermals for Christmas day."

Mark Farrell, a carpenter from Tasmania, is also excited at the prospect of a postcard-perfect Christmas.   Continued...