This week at the station

This week at Casey: 16 May 2014

Mothers in mind

We all have one and on the first Sunday in May we remember them maybe a little more than usual. Mother's Day at Casey was the best day weather-wise that we have had for a week or two which always makes you feel good – when the sun is up and there is no wind all is right with the world.

The phones rang hot from Casey as people arose and contacted home to speak with loved ones. It helped that is was a fantastic day at Casey – we had sun for most of the day – which is now only around five hours long.

The one mother we did have on station – our station leader – was the recipient of breakfast in bed (at the reasonable hour of 0900). She probably expects this every Sunday now, but is not that keen on an additional 18 fully grown foster children. 

Expeditioner Dan Laban with his Mothers Day message
Dan with the Mother's Day message at Casey
(Photo: Grant Jasiunas)
Station view in a winter sun at Casey
Casey basks in a mellow winter afternoon sun on Mother's Day
(Photo: Pete Hargreaves)
Breakfast tray for Mothers Day at Casey
Breakfast treat for the only mother for at least 1400 kms
(Photo: Pete Hargreaves)
A perfect sunset at Casey
Sunset caps a perfect day
(Photo: Pete Hargreaves)

Chilly plumbing

With the weather starting to get colder and colder every day, our concerns of a broken heat trace cable inside the main sewer pipe began to grow. Without a working heat trace cable inside the pipe, the risk of our grey water freezing and becoming blocked was very likely. As the old pipe had breaks in the cable that were not on the pipe joins, the only way to fix the problem was to replace all five lengths.

We started by getting five new five metre lengths of pipe and running in new cable. We then cut out the old pipes and, with a bit of help from one of our friendly diesel mechanics (Nick) and plant operator (Cary), we laid the new pipes in position for the plumber (Ian) to weld with the poly welder.

After that was done, the electrician (Steve) went through and connected all the cables at the joins and put in junction boxes for easy maintenance in the future. They were then wrapped with heat shrink by our second plumber (Pete) to stop any unwanted moisture getting into the insulating foam. 

General view of Casey site services
Pipe on the left is the sewer pipe to be replaced
(Photo: Steve Hankins)
Preparing heat Trace cables that are used to keep a sewer pipe from freezing
Getting heat trace cables ready to connect
(Photo: Steve Hankins)
A cross section of a site services pipe
This is what the inside of a site services pipe looks like
(Photo: Steve Hankins)
The polywelder is use on a pipe welding a join at Casey
Polywelder, welding a join
(Photo: Steve Hankins)
The pipe welder in action welding a pipe at Casey
Pipe weld with heat trace sticking out
(Photo: Steve Hankins)
Plumber Ian Coleman applying heat shrink to a weld join
Ian applying the heat shrink to the join
(Photo: Steve Hankins)

Trades do science

While sitting around the bar one Saturday night, having a nice relaxing Scotch, the big question was asked: "Is it true, that hot water freezes quicker than cold water?".

Even though we have more ice outside than any other place on the planet, we couldn’t be bothered going outside in the -20°C to grab any. We had all heard of the myth, that if you fill the ice tray with hot water out of the tap it will freeze quicker than cold water, but it just didn’t make any sense. So, we decided to investigate. There was nothing else to do as it was blowing 90 knots (167 km per hours) outside and, after all, we are down here in the name of science!

With the idea from self proclaimed professors, Steve (electrician) and Matt (diesel mechanic), and our photographer, Cary (plant operator) we decided to conduct a little experiment. The obvious choice for freezing water would be to put it outside, but we didn’t want to wait around too long otherwise we would get cold and bored. So we took it to our doctor (Grant) who has a -80°C freezer in the medical room.

The results weren’t really surprising with cold water obviously freezing quicker because of basic physics, but at least now - if anybody asks us - we can tell them that that myth has been busted. 

Picture of minus 84°C fridge read-out
Gee, I wonder if it's cold enough?
(Photo: Cary Collis)
Using temperature probes in water
Inserting the temperature probes
(Photo: Cary Collis)
Measuring water samples for an experiment
Making the exact measurements
(Photo: Cary Collis)
Steve Hankins placing bottles of water in the freezer
Placing the bottles in the freezer
(Photo: Cary Collis)
Beakers full of ice from the freezer
The finished product
(Photo: Cary Collis)
The would be scientists at Casey
Yeah, science!
(Photo: Cary Collis)

Casey wine and food tasting extravaganza

This last Saturday we enjoyed Casey wine and food tasting for 2014. Pete had carefully planned this event way back before we left mainland Australia, selecting and ordering a range of nine choice wines from northeast Victorian and Tasmanian vineyards.  These were then matched carefully with nine culinary delights from Eddie’s kitchen.

The table was set, the dishes garnished and prepared for serving, the candles were lit and the station population seated. Pete then gave us a brief rundown on each wine and its distinct characteristics. Eddie told us about the entree-sized exquisite dishes on offer and then we got down to the serious business of eating, drinking and evaluating (we were given a form listing the details with space for comments and a grade from one to ten).

There was something for everybody: crisp fresh whites, full-bodied vibrant reds, a lightly effervescent prosecco, aromatic rich sweeter wines, and flavoursome fortifieds. These complimented perfectly the smoked salmon blinis with fresh dill cream, prawns in brick pastry with gruyere sauce, Vietnamese chicken spring roll with fresh coriander and Thai dipping sauce, pan fried duck breast with fig sauce, delectable quail and couscous with pomegranate sauce, Chilean beef pie with a corn crust, crème caramel, chocolate mousse and a cheese platter with dried fruit and nuts (as if we had room for that at the end) that we were graciously served.

It was a terrific evening that anywhere else in the world would cost a fortune. We enjoyed the wine, food and company, and learned something at the same time. My personal favourite was a Tasmanian sauvignon blanc.

Needless to say, the gym was visited by many the next day!

Wines for the Casey wine and food tasting evening
Our selection of wines
(Photo: Pete Hargreaves)
Cooked duck breast at Casey
Delicious duck breasts
(Photo: Pete Hargreaves)
Saturday night table setting at Casey 2014
Table set and candles lit
(Photo: Pete Hargreaves)
Plate full of cooked quail at Casey 2014
Tiny quail ready for plating
(Photo: Pete Hargreaves)
Expedtioners seated for wine and food tasting evening
Ready and waiting
(Photo: Pete Hargreaves)
Smoked salmon blini with fresh dill sauce
Number one: smoked salmon blini with fresh dill sauce
(Photo: Pete Hargreaves)
Prawns in brick pastry with tasty gruyere sauce
Number two: prawns in brick pastry with tasty gruyere sauce
(Photo: Pete Hargreaves)
Vietnamese chicken spring roll with sweet chilli sauce
Number three: Vietnamese chicken spring roll with Thai dipping sauce
(Photo: Pete Hargreaves)
Pan-fried duck with fig sauce
Number four: pan-fried duck with fig sauce
(Photo: Pete Hargreaves)
Quail and couscous with pomegranate sauce
Number five: quail and couscous with pomegranate sauce
(Photo: Pete Hargreaves)
Chilean beef pie with cornmeal crust
Number six: Chilean beef pie with cornmeal crust
(Photo: Pete Hargreaves)
Crème caramel on plates with sauce
Number seven: crème caramel
(Photo: Pete Hargreaves)
Chocolate mousse
Number eight: chocolate mousse
(Photo: Pete Hargreaves)
Cheese platter from Saturday night dinner at Casey 2014 showing cheese, crackers and various nuts
Number nine, last course: cheese platter
(Photo: Pete Hargreaves)
A close up of chef Eddie in traditional chef attire
Our master chef, Eddie
(Photo: Pete Hargreaves)