This week at Casey: 6 July 2018

This week at Casey the countdown to home has begun, the maintenance team are escaping the cold and finding work indoors, and a bit of insight into the secret life of 'she who must be obeyed'

Station Update

The station in winter continues along in its usual routine; working hard through the week with big efforts to get the winter works list ticked off, then taking the time on the weekend to get out and about; to huts, to Mitchell Peninsula, Reeve Hill or the Wharf to try and get the great sunrise/sunset photos, or just down to the workshop to learn some new skills.

It's been truly cold this week, hitting the −30°C mark and hovering around −26°C for a few days now… then we add the wind chill. These temperatures are really cold (understatement?) and any bare skin feels the effects almost immediately. The big doona jackets have made an appearance on most for the past few days. How is it that the body acclimatises so quickly? This morning it's back to the more usual −15°C and it feels almost tropical, back to the light weight coat and questioning whether it's really necessary to wear gloves between buildings. How are we going to handle it when most of us return in late October to the heat of an Australian summer? Hopefully we acclimatise just as quickly to the heat… or can escape to winter somewhere in the world.

Speaking of which, this week we hit the 'four months to go' mark for a majority of those on station. This has caused a little moment of panic for some (but maybe not enough panic for many).

Such a short amount of time to get everything done! Especially when we know that in September the Wilkins team will be busy getting the runway ready, the project team will be finishing off what they can of the Red Shed refurbishment, and many will be undertaking two traverse operations to Law Dome and Cape Poinsette. Then October will be getting the station ready for the incoming team, then handover, then a quick flight home and it’ll all be over (for now). Just today I received an email from an expeditioner who's been down south many times and he signed off with: "Make sure you get out and see the place, before you know the end will be just there, it creeps up very quickly!!" Never a truer word was written.

Now to start that bucket list.

Rebecca, Casey Station Leader

Man sitting on carpeted floor with back resting against black leather chair, strapped into back and neck brace
Nick the lucky 'victim' during medical training
(Photo: Rebecca Jeffcoat)
Boots standing on wooden floor near vent in wall have been covered in blown snow
Blizzed boots at Wilkes Hilton
(Photo: Rebecca Jeffcoat)
In foreground man from behind standing at edge of a wharf overlooking an expanse of sea-ice with sunset in the distance and grey clouds above
Greg surveying the ice from the wharf
(Photo: Zach Lockhard)
In foreground rough sign written on old cardboard
Casey Welding Class 101
(Photo: Rebecca Jeffcoat)

Maintenance moves indoors

With limited daylight and the weather outside not quite cooperating some days it has been a good chance to catch up on some work in the Red Shed, which is where the main accommodation is located.

Annual fire testing has commenced throughout the whole building by Zac and Shane. This sizeable job requires the checking and testing of all smoke and thermal detectors, auto fire doors, fire dampers as well as all the safety monitoring equipment for the sprinkler system.

The refurbishment of the Casey accommodation rooms has recommenced. Some people have changed rooms while this activity takes place. It's time for a makeover to give it a fresh, modern and better look than ever. Brett and Al have been getting stuck into the last five rooms to be completed on station. (Each expeditioner gets their own room which is well equipped with a comfy bed, writing desk, well lit area and storage space.)

Everything has to be stripped or dismantled before the real work commences which involves plastering all the holes, new paint, new blackout curtains, moving power points and installing new lighting.

Barry (Baz) Balkin

Man in high vis stands on ladder holding fire testing implement under fire sensor on ceiling
Fire testing begins (part 1)
(Photo: Barry Balkin)
Man sits at fire alarm panel with table infront covered in paperwork
Fire testing begins (Part II)
(Photo: Barry Balkin)
A hallway with bedrooms leading off it is full of broken down peices of furniture
Out with the old
(Photo: Barry Balkin)
Huge piles of flatpack furniture defrosting and waiting to be assembled
Some assembly required
(Photo: Barry Balkin)
Man standing on short ladder in corner of room is sanding the walls
Al preparing the walls
(Photo: Barry Balkin)
Man standing in hallway is sanding top frame of the door leading into a bedroom
Brett sands the door frames
(Photo: Barry Balkin)

5 min with the 71st ANARE: Rebecca Jeffcoat

Name: Rebecca

Nicknames: Bec, Boss, She who must be obeyed, Crazy penguin lady 

From: Canberra

Previous seasons? Just a couple too-short visits - a resupply voyage in 1998/99 season and just a week’s familiarisation in 2016/17. 

Job title: Station Leader

Describe your role in two sentences: A mix between a helmsman, just keeping the ship steaming in the right direction, and a life buoy, deployed in times of emergency.

What did you do before your joined the AAD? I have been in the Royal Australian Navy since 1990, and will be returning to the Navy in January. A mix of roles, initially specialising in meteorology and oceanography, and now in the management executive field.

What is your favourite part of your job here at Casey? So many… Keeping all the moving parts together and heading in the same direction, seeing the scientists (and able field assistants) returning to station with huge smiles on their faces having achieved all their objectives and at the same time having had an unforgettable experience while out and about (like penguins jumping into their boat), getting feedback from expeditioner’s friends and family that they’re loving what we’re doing, and of course my walk to work every day as I look across Newcomb Bay at the icebergs in the distance and pinch myself that I’m actually here.

If you were not a Station Leader, what would be your dream job? Penguin biologist – I’m addicted to those little creatures!

How does this season at Casey compare to your previous seasons down south? First season, but I have a feeling that it’s going pretty well.

What do you like to do in your spare time? What spare time?! Well… photography, writing Icy News articles, party planning (aka cruise director), sewing (cross stitch), reading, watching TV shows/movies, playing cards/board games, visiting huts, and learning to weld! Oh, and visiting the penguins at every opportunity!

What song sums up your Casey experience so far? ‘Adventure of a Lifetime’ by Coldplay.

What actor would play you in a film version of our 71st ANARE season here at Casey? If I was choosing it would be Angelina Jolie (aka Lara Croft in Tomb Raider), but if others choosing then likely Melissa McCarthy in Spy (not ‘The Boss”!)

What is your favourite hut for field trips and why? Wilkes Hilton. For the wood fire, the pizza, the comfort of a larger hut, the good times playing cards and talking for hours to candle light around the table with blizzard blowing outside rattling the old building and blowing snow through the vents.

Favourite piece of Australian Antarctic Division kit? The fingerless mittens… so useful and warm; they seem to me an exact replica of what Mawson and his men might have used. Why mess with something that’s perfect.

What is your favourite book / movie (or both) and why?
Movie: Pride and Prejudice, I watch the 2005 movie whenever needing a little happiness in my life (although Mr Darcy in the 1995 BBC mini-series is pretty unbeatable)

Book: The Hobbit. My first introduction to the fantasy genre which has taken me too many extraordinary worlds since.

What is your typical 'Slushy FM' genre? Do you have a particular favourite? A mix of everything except Country and Western and Heavy Metal… but favourites are pop/house (I have a mix which always comes out for dancing at party time) and Jazz.

Describe your Casey experience with: a sight, a smell, a sound, a feeling and a taste.
Sight – watching the sunrise blend into sunset over Newcomb Bay from my office window

Smell – Shirley Island penguin rookery; sometimes when the wind is right we can smell it from station

Sound – 2 dogs karaoke

Feeling – The ride in a Hägglunds over melt streams in summer – jarring but also concerning; hoping we make it through without getting bogged

Taste – Dom’s sous vide beef fillet with coffee/spice rub (need that recipe before I leave!)

Do you have a favourite quote that you’d like to leave us with?
In light of his recent passing…

“Your body is not a temple. It’s an amusement park. Enjoy the ride.” Anthony Bourdain

Woman in black pants and jacket with beanie and sunglasses stands centre picture, on rocky outcrop with snow covered mountainous landscape behind
On top of the world at the bottom of the world (Browning…
(Photo: Rebecca Jeffcoat)
Group of expeditioners standing in foreground, one woman standing on verandah of redshed behind
With most of the team on International Women's Day
(Photo: Dominic Hall)
Woman in welding PPE, visor, leather jerkin and leather gloves, stands a work bench holding two small peices of metal in one hand and welding stick in other
Welding class. Excitement of joining two bits of metal together for the…
(Photo: Allan Rose)
Right foreground end of large iceberg with 'muffin top' and icicles off edge. Left side is calm sea with sunset in background
Picturesque iceberg - favourite photo from time here
(Photo: Rebecca Jeffcoat)
Focused in on top half of a moulting Adelie penguin, shoulders covered with longer feathers like a stole and two patches of feathers above the eyes
Favourite penguin... moulting Adelie looking 'fabulous'
(Photo: Rebecca Jeffcoat)