On Monday the 13th of March those of us staying for winter said goodbye to the last of the summer crew and hello to a couple of fresh winter folk, including our new station leader. It was an emotional time for us as we have made many new friends over summer, many of whom we will miss greatly.
The trip to Wilkins Aerodrome started later than usual with the flight scheduled to depart Hobart not before midday. I left after morning tea in the tractor with less than ideal conditions (low visibility and drifting snow) expecting a call on the satellite phone about an hour down the road to tell us that the flight was delayed due to weather. The call never came and we made it to Wilkins in about four hours, where the weather had appeared to deteriorate further. Priscilla (the bus) arrived about an hour after us full of people who were excited to get home, but the aviation crew were apprehensive about the conditions.
The weather seemed to clear up at exactly the right time, and out of the clouds appeared the A319. The conditions worsened after landing and the pilots were keen to make a very quick turnaround, so a few hugs and goodbyes later, the plane was loaded and taxiing in less than half an hour.
Driving back in a Hägglunds was tough as it was hard to see more than a few metres ahead until about halfway when the weather cleared up to a beautiful, calm evening to welcome us to our winter. Moods on station were good as we got back, with everyone in high spirits despite the goodbyes. There is only 19 on station right now, with three more to come down from Wilkins in a few weeks, and it feels like more of a home than ever. The days are getting shorter and the nights colder as we head into winter.
To all the friends that have departed over the last few weeks, I would like to say thank you for making the past few months truly memorable.