Station Leader

Live the dream! Be an Antarctic station leader.

Video transcript

Graham Cook, Station Leader at Mawson 2014

Hi, I am Graham Cook. I am the station leader at Mawson Station in Antarctica. I work with the Australian Antarctic Division in what I think is one of the best jobs in the world.

Why do I do it? Because there are so many reasons why I do it!

So many people talk about living the dream. Well with this job I get to do what other people are dreaming about. Every day here is so different. Some days I will be helping the chef in the kitchen, another day I will be working with the plumber outside in minus 20 degrees. I get to spend time with scientists working on programs that I would never be introduced to and learning a lot from that.

Where else in the world would you get to work with such a diverse group of people and such diverse programs? We have flying programs, science programs, building programs, there is just so much that happens down here, that keeps my mind going, and I learn so much from the people that I work with. It is such a pleasure to go to work every day.

In a week or two’s time we will get to watch ten thousand new visitors arrive in the form of emperor penguins as they march across the ice to set up camp and breed for the winter.

When was the last time you looked out your office window, saw a snow-clad mountain range in the distance, a glacier creeping towards the coast, an iceberg on your doorstep?

I just love working here. It’s an amazing place. Friends and family tell me I am so lucky to be here and they are right, I am. But I helped to make this luck. I put an application in for this job. And I managed to get it. You can do it too.

Narelle Campbell, Station Leader at Casey 2014

Hi, I am Narelle Campbell and I am the station leader here at Casey station and it is actually a privilege to be able to come down here and work for the Australian Antarctic Division, supporting the various science and work programs down here.

The best part, as I said, of being down here is being with the team, and the various personalities. They’re people that you don’t know, that you have just first met back in Kingston doing the training. We all come together as a team and learn to live together and share each others’ experiences down here.

Mike Gasson, Macquarie Island Station Leader 2014

Hi, my name is Mark Gasson. I am the station leader at Macquarie Island in the subantarctic. I work for the Australian Antarctic Division. Why do I want to be a station leader? It’s the most amazing job. It’s incredible. You get to be down in this beautiful location - it’s phenomenal - working with the most incredible team of people. You’ve got all kinds of different people here and I like working with people, I get quite a lot of enjoyment. It has been pretty awesome so far, I am loving it. It is a crazy adventure, unlike anything I have ever done before. We are isolated, we are miles away from anywhere, who knows what’s going to happen next? The whole thing is pretty much a mystery and the craziest thing is we’re getting paid to do it. So, it’s pretty awesome, I’m loving it.

[end transcript]

Station leader at desk
The Station leader is an administrative role (Photo: Brendan Hopkins)
The station leader meets a Chinese delegation at Davis skiway Station leader hosts drinks in his office at CaseyStation leader conducts station meeting at Macquarie IslandThe ANZAC day dawn service at Davis is led by the station leader

Like to spend a year in the world’s last great wilderness? It takes an extraordinary person to want to be an Antarctic station leader.

As a station leader, you would carry the responsibility for the smooth running of the station and the welfare of expeditioners.

You would need to be able to cope with sub-zero temperatures and have what it takes to cope with whatever circumstances may be thrown at you in the remote and often inhospitable Antarctic environment.

The ability to develop a community environment which enables the team to remain productive and harmonious is an essential part of the role. If required, you would also need to be able to act quickly and decisively to resolve conflict and tensions that might develop.

Some of the regular activities you would coordinate and manage include:

  • Ensuring compliance with occupational health and safety and environmental management requirements
  • Allocation of the station resources to ensure that all projects receive the required level of support to meet their objectives and be completed on time
  • Transport used in support of station or deep field based science, as well as construction and maintenance work. The transport includes:
    • helicopters
    • small fixed aircraft
    • small boats
    • tracked over-snow transport
    • an array of other vehicles and plant and equipment
  • Catering for all expeditioners
  • Safety and survival training
  • People management including performance appraisal

Depending on program requirements, the station leader on Macquarie Island may combine two roles: station leader and a professional or trade position for which selected.

What will you actually do on the job?

  • Administer Government policies on behalf of the Director under limited guidance from the relevant Managers
  • Develop and maintain a productive and cohesive station community, including resolving conflict and maintaining discipline
  • Manage individual performance by assessing behaviour and work competency, and by providing constructive feedback, counselling and reporting
  • Manage and/or coordinate the achievement of approved scientific, administrative, maintenance and construction programs, both station and field based
  • Manage the implementation of the AAD Safety Management System ensuring the safe conduct of all station and field based programs, including leadership in emergencies such as fire, accident and search and rescue
  • Manage the implementation of the AAD Environmental Management System and mitigate the environmental impact of operations and ensure environmental laws are observed
  • Manage the implementation of AAD policies for the security of public property and equipment.
  • Roster expeditioners to perform duties in the common good of their station

You will also:

  • Act as an Inspector under the Antarctic Treaty (Environment Protection) Act 1980 as required
  • Perform the functions of Deputy Coroner under the Australian Capital Territory Coroner’s Act 1997
  • Perform the functions of Special Constable under the Australian Antarctic Territory Criminal Procedure Ordinance 1993 

Interested in working in Antarctica?

Jobs in Antarctica are advertised during a recruitment period towards the end of each year. Some positions are not available every year. For more information, see Jobs in Antarctica.