This week at Casey: 3 May 2019

Securing the weather mast for winter

A 'BOM tech'?

Hear ‘BoM Technician’ and you may imagine a person in an armoured suit defusing explosive devices. Not the case - BoM is the acronym for Bureau of Meteorology.

The BoM Tech's role is to keep the equipment working to support climate and forecasting operations, as well fulfil the role as a Weather Observer, with about a 60/40% split between the two roles. There is a fair bit of equipment in and around Casey research station which assists in gathering surface and upper air observations, from Automatic Weather Stations (AWS) to hydrogen generators to radiosonde tracking systems.

At Wilkins Aerodrome, about 70km south east of Casey, there is an Automatic Weather Station which provides data for aviation operations. Over summer it was noted that the 10 metre mast, which the wind vane is mounted on, was in poor condition and needed new anchors fitted. The winter winds can exceed 120 knots, and this excessive and unrelenting force could cause the mast to become unstable and potentially collapse. Consequently, a team was organised on station for the job: Sam (BoM Tech), Jason (Comms Tech), Juan (Field Training Officer) and Conrad (Carpenter).

With their handy chainsaw skills, Juan and Conrad cut T-shapes into the ice for the anchors to rest in. To seal the anchors, nature's concrete was used - water, of course! Within half an hour the ice was frozen solid. Some of the anchor points were completely covered in snow so a call was made to bring in the big guns – Josh aka Bam Bam from the Wilkins Aerodrome team. He cleared all the snow using the trusty trooper!

Once the good, solid ice foundation was set, we could tighten the guy wires which support the mast. Job done! Back in the warm with a cup of tea. We ensured the mast has the best chance of surviving the winter, although in this environment nothing is for certain. One of the major positives down here is how every station member is willing to get involved and help each other out. Team work is the bread and butter of this place.

It isn’t all work and no fun down here though! Recently a group of us went on travel training which teaches you how to safely travel in the Antarctic environment. We took the quad bikes and navigated throughout the terrain, certainly a worthwhile exercise.

At Casey, there is a wealth of knowledge from all walks of life. The experiences we all share in this environment are very memorable and no doubt, there will be more adventures just around the corner.

Sam
Sam standing at the Antarctic Circle sign with the yellow Hagg
Arrival Antarctic Circle
(Photo: Sam Sanders)
Servicing Wilkins East Mast with Green Hagg in the background and the team holding support wirers
Servicing Wilkins East Mast
(Photo: Sam Sanders)
T shape anchoring system on ice
T shape anchor for mast
(Photo: Sam Sanders)
Frozen screws in ice
Frozen screws
(Photo: Sam Sanders)
Tropper clearing snow with person in foreground
Trooper clearing snow
(Photo: Sam Sanders)
Four quad bikes on snow with Sam in the foreground
Quad bikes
(Photo: Scott Mitchell)
Sunset at Casey with Sam in the foreground
Sunset at Casey
(Photo: Scott Mitchell)

Getting to know a Casey expeditioner - Conrad Willersdorf

Name: Conrad Willersdorf

Nicknames: Con, Conny

From: Woombye, Sunshine Coast, Queensland

Previous seasons? First time

Job title: Winter Carpenter

Describe your role in two sentences: Casey Carpenter and Deputy Fire Chief

What did you do before your joined the AAD? Self-employed builder

What is your favourite part of your job here at Casey? Everyday is something new and always learning new skills and solving problems. As a Carpenter we turn our hands to multiple trades and skills.

If you were not a <job> what would be your dream job? Pineapple and sugar cane farmer.

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

What do you like to do in your spare time? Visit huts, explore this amazing place, woodworking and crafting.

What song sums up your Casey experience so far? 'Great Southern Land' by Icehouse.

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

Harrison Ford.

Favourite piece of Australian Antarctic Division kit? Ice axe and survival bag.

What is your favourite book / movie (or both) and why? Indiana Jones movies, full of adventure and amazing places.

What is your typical 'Slushy FM' genre? Do you have a particular favourite? Everything and anything.

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

Sight- Beautiful glowing sunrise and sunsets over the icebergs and snow.

Smell- haha, the smell of penguins, something between a poultry farm and a fish market.

Sound- The sound of a Hagglund tracked vehicle humming along through fresh thick snow.

Feeling- Walking into a 60 knot+ headwind and trying to stay on your feet, while snow, ice and gravel hit you in the face.

Taste- mmm, the amazing food and delicious desserts our Chef Jordan serves up for us.

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

“Be the person you dream to be”.

“Sometimes travelling to the destination, means more than the destination”.

Something thing people may not know about you:  

My first job was working at the Big Pineapple tourist park on the Sunshine Coast. I worked in every department, from making parfaits, selling souvenirs to planting pineapples. Also was trained as a chocolate confectionist.

Conrad standing at Casey sign at sunset
Casey sign at sunset
(Photo: Aaron Coleman)
Conrad is his field gear on rocks and snow on survival training
Early days, out on survival training
(Photo: Chris MacMillian)
Conrad kneeling on the snow with rocks and penguins in the background
Out and about with friends - and more friends looking on
(Photo: Pete Hargreaves)
Conrad doing a bunny hop on skies
Skiing at Casey
(Photo: Conrad Willersdorf)