This week at the station

This week at Casey: 10 May 2013

Working in Antarctica

Antarctica is a very different place to work. The climate is challenging at times with temperatures reaching the minus ten degrees regularly. In most cases it’s tolerable but the slightest breeze creates the need to dress for what you are going to do. We have recently had minus twenty degree days, some days reaching as low as minus twenty-five with winds of ten to fifteen knots which limits what you can do outside. As the wind increases, so does the air chill.

This week the temperatures have been warmer at around minus three with snowing but there is a tendency for the wind speeds to increase with higher temperatures, often being above forty knots that blows the loose fresh snow or it is also snowing at the same time. This changes things greatly and can reduce visibility to a few metres. This drives the snow into everything and creates some new challenges and the need for real planning.

These difficult conditions bring a lot of challenges but working closely with my fellow expeditioners, we can over come most of these. 

Mark B

Mark and Gavin drilling ice to place new canes.
Cane line maintenance
(Photo: Mark Beecher)
Heavy machinery with snow in every crack and small space
Snow in every nook and cranny
(Photo: Mark Beecher)
More equipment covered in show
Snow everywhere
(Photo: Mark Beecher)
A tractor cover in snow after a blizzard
After a blizzard
(Photo: Mark Beecher)

A trip to Wilkes

Wilkes base was one of the first established stations in east Antarctica. Originally it use to be an American base but was later given to Australia. It is one of the most famous and visited recreation huts for Casey station. 

Abrar, Doug, Mathew and Michael W. paid a visit to Wilkes a few weeks ago. During winter when there is sufficient sea ice buildup, it is accessible via sea ice route with permission from authorities. The best time to be around Wilkes is during summer when there are a lot of wildlife including penguins, seals and birds.

It is approximately three kilometres from Casey station. Wilkes remains today part of Antarctic heritage. Most of its component huts are now buried to their roofs in ice and snow. The largest of the unburied buildings, the old transmitter hut, has been converted to a field hut (the nearest of five such huts to Casey, and by far the biggest) and is used for recreational visits, and sometimes by field scientists in summer.

Wilkes is quite spacious and can sleep eight with more on the floor if necessary. Pizza and barbecue are pretty famous when staying over at the “Wilkes Hilton”. It also has a darts board! It has a lovely fire place which keeps the place warm and nice as long as the wood is not damp. 

Wilkes is so peaceful and has some spectacular sunsets, is a great place to capture an aurora and is definitely a great place to revisit. It revives the pioneer expedition. 

Abrar S. 

A number of expeditioners talking around a red Hägglunds
A visit by cane line maintenance team, Andy B
(Photo: Abrar Shabren)
The four expeditioners inside the Wilkes hut having dinner
Dinner time
(Photo: Abrar Shabren)
A picture of the Wilkes hut with snow all around
Inspecting the hut
(Photo: Abrar Shabren)
Sunset over Wilkes. Tops of old structures exposed from snow covered terrain
(Photo: Abrar Shabren)
Australian National University Heritage sign to preserve Wilkes
Heritage sign
(Photo: Abrar Shabren)
A memorial plaque for the death of 5 crew in a Aircraft crash
Memorial plaque at Wilkes
(Photo: Abrar Shabren)

Matty's corner

This week we have been watching the number one documentary series on station, “Coast”. Its all about the UK coastline and its history, so we thought we would focus on our own coast here for this week's story. Let’s face it, its just about as rocky and cold as the UK coastline, but we have snow!

Thursday night art class is going well. Last week we got paint and pastels out, which is just as messy as charcoal! Some canvas has been stretched over some frames, ready for our masterpieces to be created.

The band has practiced a few songs ready for midwinter celebrations and we hope the spa will be ready for the 21st of June for our dip recovery after our midwinter swim.

The Red Boat and the Red Shed

The Red boat that was here
Has now gone away
Taken everyone with her,
We’ve been left to stay.

Here for a while,
And we have much to do,
When out in the cold,
Your first layer is food.

So if you wake up,
And the dark day you soon dread,
Some cereal you need, with a bit of toasted bread,
So that you are prepared,
To leave the shed that is Red.

A penguin on top of a rocky hill, spreading its wings
Last penguin spotted here - late March 2013
(Photo: Matt Whittington)
Penguin tracks on snow
Penguin tracks on sea ice at Wilkes
(Photo: Matt Whittington)
Lenticulas type clouds with sunset light reflections
Cloud with sunset
(Photo: Matt Whittington)
Sea ice forming
Forming sea ice in Shirley Island channel
(Photo: Matt Whittington)
Four expeditioners posing outside on the snow
Mick, Matty, Doug and Abrar at Wilkes
(Photo: Matt Whittington)
Snow petrel in flight
Snow petrel
(Photo: Matt Whittington)
Snow blizz tail
Reeves hill blizz tail
(Photo: Matt Whittington)
Blizz tail - a snowy hill in shadow covered in snow and ice from a blizzard
Reeves hill blizz tail
(Photo: Matt Whittington)
Drawing of Matty with his Viking like beard
Art class drawing by Allan
(Photo: Matt Whittington)
Moon in the horizon rising from snowy and rocky terrain
Moon rising over the plateau
(Photo: Matt Whittington)
Cloudy sunrise with the Casey sign in the foreground underexposed
Sunrise at Casey
(Photo: Matt Whittington)
Colourful clouds from sunrise rays
Sunrise clouds
(Photo: Matt Whittington)
Painting of a bridge
Outstanding artwork by one of Allan's art class students at Casey station
(Photo: Matt Whittington)
Multiple art works from painting to drawing
More outstanding artwork by some of Allan's art class students at Casey…
(Photo: Matt Whittington)