This week at Casey: 16 November 2018
Welcoming the 72nd ANARE season, Remembrance Day, and lots of good training and science project work.
Casey's week in review
Casey started the week with the arrival of the second Airbus of the season, bringing 20 more expeditioners including many of our scientific project teams. Our new colleagues were suitably impressed as they arrived just in time to join in Casey’s formal celebration to usher in the 72nd ANARE season with dinner and drinks. The food, company and wine was of the highest calibre and the evening enjoyed by all.
As the next morning dawned, a ceremony to commemorate Remembrance Day was in the making. The team organised a really touching ceremony and most of the station population turned out for the event. Remembrance Day is a day of special significance to all Australians, New Zealanders and may other countries, commemorating the loss of lives in wars, conflicts and peace operations. This was also the last of four years, from 2014 – 2018, of Australia commemorating the Anzac Centenary, marking 100 years since our nation’s involvement in the First World War.
The week also remained focused on training with three survival training groups completed and more vehicle and kitchen inductions conducted. Additionally, the field work of the Seabirds science project continued, and a recce to the field location of the Law Dome project was completed. The Remediation and Effective Territories Administration also began their work around station.
Casey finished the week with the arrival of the last Airbus flight for the early part of the season, with the team now at 83. The flight also marked the beginning of the closure period of Wilkins Aerodrome for approximately three months to complete runway works.
Getting to know a Casey expeditioner - Matt Flynn
Flynn, Flynny, Flynno, Flynn-meister, the Flynnisher, Matty Flynn
Perth, Western Australia
None, this is my first time south!
Describe your role in two sentences:
Ensuring things don't go BANG when they're switched on, avoiding main powerhouse trips, avoiding fire panel alarms, and staying adequately caffeinated!
What did you do before your joined the AAD?
I was working as a fixed plant maintenance electrician on a iron ore mine, in the Pilbara in the north west of Western Australia
What is your favourite part of your job here at Casey?
Sharing laughs with some pretty funny humans, and watching the penguins do their thing!
If you were not a electrician what would be your dream job?
Professional boxer/athlete, or boxing promoter/manager...
How does this season at Casey compare to your previous seasons down south?
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I love to sleep, watch movies, and play playstation. When I'm not sleeping I'm at the gym trying to work off all the excess chocolate or ice cream I've eaten.
What song sums up your Casey experience so far?
Darius Rucker, 'Wagon Wheel'. This song was playing on our first Friday night on station - we were having beers and a bbq outside, it was freezing and snowing and pretty amazing all at the same time!
What actor would play you in a film version of our 72nd ANARE season here at Casey?
Brad Pitt (as the character Mickey the Traveller, from the movie Snatch)
Favourite piece of Australian Antarctic Division kit?
Long sleeve thermal top, appropriate for all occasions!
What is your favourite book / movie (or both) and why?
'Shantaram' by Gregory David Roberts. It's one of those books you can't put down, edge-of-the-seat type stuff! Any horror movie, 'The Conjuring' and 'Hereditary' come to mind (who doesn't love a good horror movie?).
What is your typical 'Slushy FM' genre? Do you have a particular favourite?
Usually depends on my mood at the time, or how many coffees I've had that morning, but more often than not it'll be folksy, acoustic, singer songwriter-type stuff.
Describe your Casey experience with: a sight, a smell, a sound, a feeling and a taste.
The vastness of Antarctica when I stepped off the plane at Wilkins really got me. All I remember seeing was white to the horizon (in every direction!). It really made me aware of how small we are in the scale of life.
The smell the waste water treatment plant leaves in your neck gaiter (ain't no-one got time for that, yuck!).
The sound of the fire alarm bells (is this another drill???!!!).
That feeling before you push a button on the fire panel and you just hope it doesn't set off the site-wide alarm (SEND IT!!!).
The taste of powdered millk (sorry I can't pretend, it's just not the same as fresh milk :(. Is there money in the budget to econ some dairy cows on V2???)
Do you have a favourite quote that you’d like to leave us with?
'Everyone has a plan till they get punched in the face' - Mike Tyson
Sometimes it's life throwing the punches and we won't always see them coming. It's how we choose to react in these moments that define who we want to be as people.
Something that people may not know about you:
I started a degree in Politics and International Studies after finishing high school, but dropped out after the first year.
Theory meets practical – Survival Training
Having read the epic tales of turmoil, bravery and hardships suffered during the Heroic Age of Antarctic exploration, the one common thread of this history is understanding and surviving the harsh environment. In other words: live to tell the tale.
Although the dog-sleds have been replaced with quad-bikes, hay sleeping bags with duck down, and the navigational sextant with the GPS, the dangers still remain. Training in survival techniques is paramount to a successful expedition.
Enter the Field Training Officers. Selected for their skills and ability to pass these on to the average layperson, FTO’s hit the ground running on station and allow expeditioners the confidence to safely undertake operational tasks and recreational activities.
I have spent a fair bit of time on the Antarctic continent over the year but never at Casey station. I’m excited by the prospect of exploring the beautiful landscape and historical sites dotted along the coastline. In order to do this I first need to undertake survival training which will reinforce previous skills, enlighten me on new ones, and hopefully quash any bad habits not conducive with Antarctic living.
So one Friday morning myself and eight other expeditioners gathered in the wallow just after breakfast for a briefing by senior field training officer Anthea Fisher. Having outlined the proposed schedule for the next 24 hours, along with handy hints for dealing with our arsenal of Antarctic clothing, we set off outside down to the field store, equipment central and home of the FTO’s.
Over the course of the next few hours our team was instructed how to pack survival equipment, use survival techniques, map and compass theory, and GPS usage. Having stowed our lunches and configured backpacks we set off from station to start our journey on foot over ice and snow.
During the day and into the late evening our senses were overwhelmed by the beauty of our new backyard. Our brains were filled with practical knowledge of risk assessment, survival strategies and sound advice about maintaining awareness of both environmental and personal hazards. Anthea drew on her years of experience to offer a comprehensive and enjoyable training session.
For sure, not everything was roses. Although we encountered skuas, Adélie penguins, snow petrels, a group of wandering emperors, sea-ice travel, snow, wind, blue skies, no wind, vistas of the iceberg-filled sea, melting snow in sub-zero temperatures after having learned to use our survival stoves, a couple of distant seals, grease ice, pancake ice, rafted and a hundred other types of ice... we still had to sleep in a bivvy bag out under the southern sky.
The one thing I dreaded most was sleeping out for the night. Not because of the environment as I’m the first to put my hand up to camp out down here. No, the apprehension came from previous experiences of survival training over the years. I was not disappointed - it was an uncomfortable evening spent rugged up in a sleeping bag sliding on a foam mat covered by the chip packet we called accommodation that night. Minus temperatures in a survival bivvy is not the warm room I left on station, nor the shower I was dreaming of on return.
What the survival bivvy and the 24 hours of tuition gave me was not a physical comfort but a mental one, knowing my fellow expeditioners and I can look after ourselves and each other in this harsh environment and survive.