This week at the station
This week at Casey: 25 April 2014
Ali, Stu and I (Pete), decided to head out to Browning to see if we could get a last glimpse of the elephant seals before they head north for the winter, and to have the first two night jolly of our winter, little did we suspect?!
After a long trip out with poor definition we arrived and made ourselves at home. The following day we headed out with stunning weather and a spring in our step. We headed to the elephant seal area, but much to our disappointment we weren't able to safely access this spot as the snow had all blown away and only a steep, slippery ice slope was present. Even from here though we couldn't spy any elephant seals lying around nor hear them so there was every chance the last of them were long gone anyway. Not to be perturbed we had a bit more of a look around, taking some photos of the stunning scenery before heading back to the hut and settling in for the evening.
On waking the next day, day three, it became apparent that our trip may actually turn into a three night, four day trip! The weather had taken a turn for the worse and we had blowing snow, 40 knot plus winds and at times we couldn't see our vehicle parked only 20 metres away. Our localised blizz never abated all day and we spent our time mostly reading which was a nice rest. Such is the nature of Antarctica that on station it was clear, fine and hardly a breath of wind, whilst we were stuck in a storm. This is precisely the reason why we take so much gear with us into the field, more than enough to survive two weeks on any trip, plus the huts are stocked with emergency gear and food.
After three nights out we headed home to Casey, enjoying the completely altered scenery on the way back with all the newly sculptured snow, this place really can change overnight.
Beer. It's hard to pinpoint where it first began, but it was probably a few thousand years BC when some of the first folk made use of yeasts, sugar (carbs) and water to make a rough and ready alcoholic 'divine drink'. Progress was slow for thousands of years as the lumpy 'divine drink' became less cloudy and the gradual addition of herbs slowly improved the taste. Praise to the monks in the middle ages however, who took it to a whole new level with the use of herbs 'n' hops, refining the brewing process to produce the finest beers. Truly the amber ale had become the nectar of the gods. Today, the search for that right yeast to go with the right mix of malts and sugars and hops, lovingly brewed at the right temperature, is a hobby that yields much satisfaction.
As the Casey Brew Club, it is with great honour that we continue the search for the perfect ale. We don't only do it for fun – our efforts are for the greater good, supporting the logistics, science and cargo programs. When the station numbers swell in summer and folk want to enjoy a responsible brew or two at the end of the day, we will be there for them. By continuing to brew beer, we save all that precious cargo space on the Aurora Australis not required for cartons. More room for science we chant!
In this endeavour we need resources and state of the art facilities. As such, the brew room temporarily closed its doors to undertake some renovations. Not that we didn't knock out some good brews before, but it was time for a little change, to increase our capacity for 'boutique' brews, improve storage and functionality, install a shiny old but new fridge and well, to just make the place look pretty.
So it was that Scotty and Hargreaves led the way by putting in the hard (trade) yards. With great pleasure and much pomp, Ali cut the ribbon to reopen the brewery for business last Thursday. A big thanks goes out to everyone who lent a hand with the renovations and indeed, anyone who ever laid down a brew, tapped a keg, washed, filled, emptied or capped (with style) a bottle.
Steve B, Chairman of the 2014 Casey Brew Club
The Big Squeeze
Earlier on this year, our annual resupply arrived on the ever so red Aurora Australis. In amongst all the food and fuel there were the more unusual items tucked away in seemingly boring sea containers. In one of these sea containers was a piece of equipment vital for next years diving program.
One of the more risky potential side effects of diving is decompression sickness, or as it's more commonly known, 'the bends'. As we are as about as remote as you can get, the AAD sent a recompression chamber down on the boat during resupply.
The interesting thing about this recompression chamber is not only that it fits into a shipping container, it can also be separated into three sections all weighing less than 900 kg and transported by helicopter sling load if needed. It is truly amazing, the ingenuity of the system. The longer I am here the more awesome solutions I get to see for some unique problems. All part of the expeditioner experience!