This week at Casey: 23 November 2018

Fuel transfer, traverse to Law Dome, and seabird science

One month in

This week marks our first month at Casey and what a month it has been. Over this time I have continually been reminded of what happens when you are given the opportunity to work with amazing people, including those at the top of their trade and world leading scientists. It brings to every day a sense of wonder and impressive achievements.

This week we have completed a fuel oil spill exercise and the successful transfer of approximately 180,000 litres of Special Antarctic Blend (SAB) diesel from the lower to upper fuel farm, to the particular interest of a waddle (group) of penguins.

We have also begun the second traverse to Law Dome Deep Field camp with a party of six to finalise camp preparations before sending the remaining scientific team up later in the week.

This deep field camp is approximately 130 kilometres from Casey at one of the snowiest locations on the continent, which is well suited to drilling ice core samples for use in important scientific research.

The seabird team have also continued their work in the Adelie penguin colonies around Casey. Both teams provided evening presentations on their work to the station population, and both events were standing room only.

Another focus at Casey remains off-station Hägg training and the beginning of our push on overnight travel training, to allow more of our team to operate safely off-station in the surrounding area.   

Chris
Station Leader 

Two Casey team members walking the line and one standing on top of the lower fuel farm keeping an eye on fuel transfer operations
Casey team keeping a close eye on fuel transfer operations
(Photo: Chris MacMillian)
Penguin waddle, five in the group checking out the fuel transfer operations
A few curious penguins checking out the fuel transfer operations
(Photo: Chris MacMillian)
three Haggs lined up near the red shed ready to go
Haggs lined up and ready to go
(Photo: Chris MacMillian)

Where do diesos come from?

Expedition Mechanics, commonly known as 'diesos', consider themselves the most important tradies in Antarctica. While a constant source of debate and banter as to which tradies actually are the most important, it’s certainly true that without diesel power Casey Station would not function.

From the humble 4wd ute to the largest of quad track tractors and the station’s power generation, the range of machinery that our small team keep running is impressive.

So where does the Australia Antarctic Division look when they’re trying to put a team on the icy continent? Some clues might lie in the backgrounds of the current 'Team Dieso':

Scott – I’m this year’s supervisor. With a background on Navy warships and offshore drilling rigs I am usually found floating on water to do my work. Most of the water down here is frozen but I’m hoping we might get on the water later in season.

Shane – Outgoing supervisor and the hardest working guy in Antarctica. His background is in underground mining and fixing machines in very remote parts of the Australian mining industry. He enjoys it down here so much he volunteered to stay on for a while to help the new crew get up to speed.

Gav – The baby of the crew, at just 26. He is a Caterpillar man through and through - there’s not much he doesn’t know about the yellow machines that are so popular down here. Don’t try and stress him out, it won’t work, cool as a cucumber is the best way to describe Gav. A great plant operator and chosen driver of the Terrabus used to transport passenger to and from our ice runway.

Morgs –He’s had so many jobs in heavy industry and mining he’s forgotten how many. Not afraid of having a go at fixing anything and more often than not he’s successful. Often found tinkering on a job in our workshop on weekends and planning for his soon to be created 'Antarctic Sundial' - watch out for that in coming weeks!

Chris – A WA miner and small business owner. If he’s not in the pit of an iron ore mine he’s in Perth running an automotive workshop. Often heard randomly saying “isn’t this awesome?” about having the opportunity to work in Antarctica. Eexpert in stopping to smell the roses.

Dave – Possibly the tallest guy in Antarctica. No stranger to the cold having spent a few years working in the ski fields of Canada. Dave is our go-to man for snow groomer maintenance, these overly complicated machines can require an expert touch. All-round cold-weather mechanic.

Josh (Bam Bam) – Josh works up at the Wilkins Ice Runway. Being a 3-4 hour trip away from station he keeps all the machines running that make it possible to land large aircraft on solid blue ice. Living and working away from the main station Josh is part of a small team that endures colder temperatures and stronger winds than we do at Casey, they’re hard as nails! He’s always laughing and smiling but can be a bad influence after midnight on a Saturday night.

That sums up the team. If we’re not fixing big stuff in the workshop you can find us transferring fuel around the station to keep the vehicles topped up and the generators running. A diverse and extremely capable bunch of guys given the privilege of living and working in the most amazing place on earth. Standby for more updates from Team Dieso as we keep having fun and keeping the station running.

Scott
Station Mechanical Supervisor 2018-19

Dieso's team on front of red quadtrack Front  Morgs Middle row R-L  Dave, Shane, Scott Gavin Back Row R-L  - Josh, Chris
(front) Morgs, (middle l-r) Dave, Shane, Scott, Gavin, (back l-r) Josh, Chris
(Photo: Scott King)

Getting to know a Casey expeditioner - Mitch Britton

Name:

Mitch Britton

Nicknames:

Loki down here and Rex at home.

From:

Lithgow, Blue Mountains NSW

Previous seasons?

First time south for me

Job title:

Electrician, librarian, assistant postman and brewery helper

Describe your role in two sentences:

Keeping all things electrical maintained and running. Without somehow setting off the myriad of station alarms in doing so.

What did you do before your joined the AAD?

I worked in underground mining for 12.5 years as well as a brief stint in maritime.

What is your favourite part of your job here at Casey?

I love how the environment down here can turn even the most basic job into an adventure as well as working alongside and learning from people with all different skill-sets and sharing a laugh.

If you were not an electrcian what would be your dream job?

Foreign aid worker

How does this season at Casey compare to your previous seasons down south?

It’s my favourite one so far!

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I’ve been trying to get out and explore as much as possible such as visiting the penguin colonies on nearby Shirley Island whilst the sea ice allows us to cross. Otherwise reading, movies, photography, eating, avoiding the gym and just getting to know the other expeditioners I'll be spending the year with as well.

What song sums up your Casey experience so far?

Here comes the sun’ - The Beatles

What actor would play you in a film version of our 72nd ANARE season here at Casey?

An 'Avengers' Tom Hiddleston, I've been told.

Favourite piece of Australian Antarctic Division kit?

My old weather beaten Carhartt jacket keeps me toasty and makes me look far more experienced than the 4 weeks I've been here.

What is your favourite book / movie (or both) and why?

'The Alchemist' by Paulo Coelho is a book I love coming back to – a simple story with lots of wisdom. Movie – whatever happens to be playing in the station's 'Odeon' theatre at the time.

What is your typical 'Slushy FM' genre? Do you have a particular favourite?

I’m currently compiling a playlist of tragic 90’s pop for my next day helping out in the kitchen that everyone will secretly love but never admit to. 

Describe your Casey experience with: a sight, a smell, a sound, a feeling and a taste.

Each day at 7:30am the sun is at the perfect height to illuminate all the icebergs in the bay opposite our living quarters, making the morning commute down to the workshop an extra special sight. The smell of Sunday morning bacon and eggs wafting through the Red Shed living quarters. The sound of a fierce blizzard outside, feeling incredibly fortunate to be here, and the taste of all the great meals our chefs put together for us each day.

Do you have a favourite quote that you’d like to leave us with?

"You’re off to great places, today is your day, your mountain is waiting...so get on your way!’ - Dr Seuss

Something thing people may not know about you:

I’m a dual citizen of Australia and Germany

Mitch testing panel for electricity
Testing panel for electricity
(Photo: Matt Flynn)
Mitch riding a quad in the snow
Tradie transport
(Photo: Matt Flynn)
Penguin walking towards camera with rock and ice in background
The penguins of Shirley Island - one of them coming to say…
(Photo: Mitch Britton)