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Antarctic Division
State Branches & Regions
New South Wales

2009 Sydney Midwinter Dinner


The function Room, Ryde-Eastwood Leagues Club, Saturday 27th June 2009

Celebrations began traditionally, with Homers. In and around the bar gathered past and present ANAREans, including eight members from the 1969 Casey expedition, who reunited thanks to the efforts of John Gillies. From far and wide they had come to share past experiences, and to catch up on news of current Australian Antarctic research. The AGM was followed by the mandatory group photo, after which the company found its way to the dining room. 

Casey 1969
Casey 1969

Expeditioners entered a scene that was at once festive and icy. Blue and white balloons hovered over white-clothed tables. Upon the cloths, maps of Antarctica had been drawn. Pens were provided for expeditioners to mark the places they knew, and to pin point the current location of the south magnetic pole. Graffiti accompanied lively discussions throughout the evening. 

The South Magnetic Pole was the theme of the event, to celebrate the centenary of Mawson’s discovery of its location in 1909. ANAREans were delighted and honoured by the presence of Mawson’s great-great grand-daughters, Emma McEwin and Dimity Mitsus. Emma spoke about the overloaded Nimrod setting out from Hobart, Mawson’s seasickness, and falling into crevasses, his thoughts that younger men were needed for Antarctic expeditions based on Edgeworth David’s struggles, and the the miracle rescue of the three men when the ship passed them by. 

Tradition deviated, in the most respectful way, as female perspectives of Antarctica were represented and voiced. Gracing the ’Mawson’ table was Flip Byrnes, representing her great great grand father, Frank Hurley. The voices of more women than men were to be heard throughout this evening. 

Emma proposed that it was Mawson’s love for Paquita, his future wife, which gave him the strength to survive his lone sledge journey. In Emma’s fine features could be discerned traces of her forebear. Watching and hearing her speak, one could easily sense her passion for Douglas, and Antarctica. For some, Antarctica may simply be a place to go to work. But for Mawson, Antarctica seemed to be as alluring as a lover. Emma’s story may resonate with some ANARE men.


Emma McEwin

Emma’s presentation was followed by talks by ANARE women Denise Allen and Deputy Director of The Australian Antarctic Division, Virginia Mudie. Denise, who has worked on seven expeditions, expressed her belief in the ANARE Club as important for the fellowship it provides its members, and for the continuity it helps maintain between past and present ANAREans. When she expressed her concern that the name of ANARE has been changed, many others in the room expressed their agreement.

Denise and John

Denise Allen and John Gillies Aurora editor.

Virginia Mudie spoke briefly about the Antarctic Division’s concern to find energy efficient ways to continue research in Antarctica. She expressed her desire to maintain good connections between the Division and the ANARE Club. 

Virginia Emma Flip Dimity

Virginia Mudie, Emma McEwin, Flip Byrnes and Dimity Mitsis.

The Call of the Years proceeded as usual, but much abbreviated this year. Longest serving expeditioner, Graeme Currie, or ’Chompers’, was on safari in Africa. As expeditioners stood to announce their service in Antarctica, one could imagine the presence of Mawson and Hurley.

The theme of the evening was the magnetic pole, that force that shifts in mysterious ways. Although not consciously engineered, perhaps the theme was also the shifting force of ANARE. Were there signs that the name, ANARE, will be reclaimed, to uphold the spirit of such expeditioners as Mawson, to inspire the future of Australian Antarctic research?

Lisa Roberts

Who was there

Emma McEwan Guest speaker Great Grand Daughter of Sir Douglas Mawson
Dimity Mitsis
Flip Byrnes Great Great Grand Daughter of Frank Hurley
Virginia Mudie Deputy Director AAD
Kit Scally M71 M91
Julie Finch-Scally Q
Margaret Whitelaw D04/05
Ron Whitelaw
Rohan Whitelaw
David Ellyard M66 AA03
Sue Ellyard
Lisa Roberts AA00
Ken Wilson PB 80 V7 01/02 V5 03  MI94 /95 96/97
Hilton Swan MS90/91, MI 95/96
Phil Silvestro C81/2 , AA06, Q79
Donna Silvestro
Colin Christiansen M71 C75 D77
Owen Holmwoo C89
Denise Allen M86, M05, MI85, C92, D88, D07, Marine Sc 03
Quentin Blades C69
Meggsy Mills M72, M92,D90,D98, C87, MI95,MI03, M!06
Lita Mills
Norm Mills
Evonne Mills
Lindsay Stubbs M79
Taeko Stubbs
Bill Burch W61 AA07/08
Robyn Burch
Peter Cheers C01 M02/03
Stuart Hodges C93, C01, D84, C95, M91, M97
Sydney Little C69
Cliff French
Neil McDonald M76
Rosalie McDonald
Lynn Saunders C69
Bob Tomkins M70 MI75 MI76/77 MI81/82
Peter Garone C69
Bob Innes C69
Charlie Weir C69
Roy Wiggins W65 WC69
Sue Wiggins
Damien Macey
Steve Symonds MI72 AA00

Neville Smethurst W61
Maureen Smethurst
Paul Lytwyn M83/84 M85
Dee Lytwyn
Ken Bode M67 C69
Geoff Beer M02/03 C05/06 C06
Tara Beer
Joe Fishburn C06
Bill Breeze C76
Murray Doyle AA96/04 AA06/09
John Gillies M67 C69
Ian Kavanagh MI77 D79 HO80/95
Micky Loedeman D96/97, M97/98, C00/01, C01/02, C02/03, VL05/06, C06/07. AA07/08, VL 08/09, W09/10
Sara Visentin MS03 D04/05
Ron Webb MI 1972 M83 CB86
Margueite Tierney Pen86
Bob Sutton MI65 M99
John Manning M67 multiple summers The Blue Streak

Chompers! On Safari in Africa.
Chris Hutchison M/PCM 69/70
Sid Kirkby
Paddy Butterworth
Patrick Omik Moonie M 67 69 71 73 75
Bill Storer MI51 M54
Tom Harwood MI59
Trevor Olrog MI65 W67
Alan Parker
Alistair Battye W62
Chris Sammut
Ian Tod W59 M61
Ray and Letty Brookes
Sean Thompson MI07
Mark Lagemann M02/03, South Pole04, W06, W08, C07