Survey team bikes and hikes in Antarctica

Published on LEUT Jared Willans (author)

Location(s): Vestfold Hills, Antarctica

Topic(s): Operation SOUTHERN DISCOVERY, Maritime Geospatial Warfare Unit

Maritime Geospatial Warfare Unit members out for a mountain bike ride in the Vestfold Hills that surround Davis Station, Antarctica. L-R: Leading Seaman Hydrographic Systems Operators Tanya Maksimovic and Kirsty Whyatt; Leading Seaman Marine Technician Ben Seehars; Able Seaman Hydrographic Systems Operator Savas Erginel; and Lieutenant Jared Willans. (photo: Unknown)
Maritime Geospatial Warfare Unit members out for a mountain bike ride in the Vestfold Hills that surround Davis Station, Antarctica. L-R: Leading Seaman Hydrographic Systems Operators Tanya Maksimovic and Kirsty Whyatt; Leading Seaman Marine Technician Ben Seehars; Able Seaman Hydrographic Systems Operator Savas Erginel; and Lieutenant Jared Willans.

Members of the Maritime Geospatial Warfare Unit deployed to Antarctica for survey operations took advantage of a public holiday to get off the water for a day and enjoy mountain biking and hiking in the Vestfold Hills that surround Davis research station.

The mountain biking started early amid snow showers and sub-zero temperatures.

After a couple of setbacks, including a snapped bike chain, all team members completed the four hour journey which included a visit to the proposed Davis Aerodrome runway site.

Able Seaman Hydrographic Systems Operator Savas Erginel said he’d never imagined riding a mountain bike in Antarctica.

“With the additional 12kg survival bag on my back, some of the slopes and terrain were certainly challenging at times, but the experience was priceless,” he said.

The ride was followed by a hike to one of the highest peaks in the area, known as ‘The Lookout’, where the team, accompanied by two Australian Antarctic Division expeditioners, encountered a very lost Adélie penguin at the top of the mountain.

The peak offered uninterrupted views to the Antarctic ice cap 20 kilometres to the south, the nearby Sørsdal Glacier and a massive seven kilometre long iceberg passing close to the coast. 

On the return journey the team visited an elephant seal colony where members were able to see 30 of the large seals in a wallow.

Leading Seaman Hydrographic Survey Operator Kirsty Whyatt said she was in awe of the day.

“Having an opportunity to see some of the sights that surround Davis Station was phenomenal.

“Being able to see the Sørsdal Glacier from the top of the lookout really gave you a sense of just how massive it is.

“Visiting the seal wallow is an experience I’ll never forget,” she said.

While the team enjoyed the day off, the focus remains on survey operations for the Davis Aerodrome Project which are in full swing in the waters surrounding Davis Station.