Australia

Perth Man Brian Jury Documents his Amazing Antarctic Adventure

Brian Jury likes the idea of being back at the helm of a Fremantle Sea Rescue vessel, drinking a chocolate milk and soaking up the sun.

But as much as he has missed the comforts of fresh milk and warm weather, part of him will yearn for the magical, wind-swept land he leaves behind.

He has spent two years in Antarctica — the first year in his 20s, when he worked as a diesel mechanic at Australia’s Casey Station.

Brian Jury at Casey Station in 1986.

Not all parts of the station were heated and if he wanted to make a brief phone call, he had to book it days in advance.

He loved the experience and he wanted to go back, but life got in the way.

Three decades later, when he was closer to 60 than 50, the opportunity to spend a year as a “dieso” in Antarctica came around again.

Malcolm Vernon with a front loader full of coldies.

“I saw it come up and I thought, ‘Well, I’ll apply and they’ll tell me I’m too old and fat’,” Mr Jury, 57, said.

“But here I am.”

This time he has been based at Mawson Station, the oldest of Australia’s three permanent research outposts.

Aurora australis over Mawson Station. Pictures:

There were about 30 people at Mawson on his arrival in February, when the sun was out and the temperature was nudging 0C.

In the middle of winter, when the mercury had fallen below -30C, Mr Jury was one of 14 staff members who kept the station running.

Effectively stranded in one of the world’s harshest climates, where going for a stroll outside is not always an option, they find ways to amuse themselves once their daily duties are done.

Mr Jury in Antarctica.

They might experiment with their latest batch of home-brewed Antarctic beer or retire to the Brain Freeze whisky bar for a nip or two.

The whisky bar is a seasonal attraction that helps them stave off the cold in the deep of winter.

It melts as the sun returns.

Golf at Horseshoe Harbour.

Just last month the team played the Mawson Links Invitational, a four-hole golf tournament at Horseshoe Harbour.

The course was drilled and prepared to the rigorous standards required by the East Antarctic Golf Tournaments Association, an unofficial branch of the Australian Antarctic Division.

Camaraderie is important when your closest neighbour is more than 600km away on the other side of the Amery Ice Shelf.

Emperor penguins at the Auster rookery.

Mr Jury has only a few weeks left at the station and he knows they will likely be his last in Antarctica.

He cannot complain.

Most people will never see the wonders he has seen — hordes of emperor penguins framed by cliffs of ice, jade icebergs rising from the snow like gemstones or the southern lights dancing across a starlit sky.

The Brain Freeze whisky bar.

“The photos do look magical but it’s nothing like it looks when you see it for real,” Mr Jury said.

“Going out to the Auster penguin colony has been the highlight for me.

“Again, the photos don’t do it justice. It’s the most amazing place in the world that I’ve ever been to.

“The emperor penguins stand a metre high and they’re very unafraid of you.

“We can’t approach the birds but if you just sit down quietly, they’ll come up and check you out.

“It’s hard to describe just what it’s like out there.”

Armed with a digital camera, he has captured some spectacular photos and footage.

His videos of penguins, seals and the southern lights will act as a vivid reminder of his home away from home.

Advances in technology have allowed him to document his trip in a way he could have only dreamt about in 1986-87. Instead of booking phone calls days in advance as he did back then, he can communicate with friends and loved ones online.

He has kept an online blog throughout the journey which gives a fascinating insight into life at an Australian Antarctic station.

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