This week at the station

This week at Casey: 13 June 2014

Casey greens

On a week when we have recorded our coldest temperatures for the winter, it is a luxury to spend time somewhere warm and inviting - our hydroponics facility. When a blizzard is blowing it seems strange to get a sweat up monitoring the water and nutrient levels, and doing a spot of pruning.

At the moment we are trying our best to cultivate salad greens, a variety of herbs, and luscious red tomatoes ready for our midwinter celebrations on the weekend of the 21st. There is nothing better that eating a salad you have grown yourself on the darkest of darkest nights - the winter solstice. 

a seedling growing in Casey Hydroponics
It all starts right here
(Photo: Ali Dean)
A view of one  of the rooms in hydroponics with vegetables growing down both sides
And the next thing you know you've got this
(Photo: Ali Dean)
View of the lettuce trays in Casey hydroponics
Anyone for lettuce?
(Photo: Ali Dean)
A cucumber growing in hydroponics at Casey
Cucumber sandwiches anyone?
(Photo: Ali Dean)
A green capsicum growing in Hydroponics at Casey 2014
Green and shiny
(Photo: Ali Dean)
Mint plant in Casey hydroponics
Mint ready for harvesting
(Photo: Ali Dean)

Weekend off station

Last weekend Stu and I planned to head out to Wilkes hut for two nights and then move onto Jacks hut for a night, taking Eddie the chef with us for the last night.

Eddie, the master chef on station and at the huts, was going to tag along for one night as he had Saturday night dinner to cook on station, or so he thought. Ali, our station leader, had other plans. You see, Ali was rostered to help the chef Eddie on Saturday night, so if she ordered the chef to go out for the weekend (which she did), then the kitchen would be hers to rule! (Although a less interesting version of this story is that with midwinter* coming up in less than two weeks now, sending the chef out for a break before the huge task of preparing and planning was a very nice gesture).

So with much excitement Stu, Eddie and I, along with two late additions, Dan and Shano, headed out to Wilkes for the night. As always it was a fun-filled evening, what with the heater going and pizzas cooking, who couldn’t enjoy themselves? Late Saturday morning before Dan and Shane returned to station, we enjoyed bacon rolls for breakfast before cleaning up a little around the hut, and the doing of huge the pile of dishes.

The remaining three of us relaxed all day, read books and snoozed before spending an evening reading more books, relaxing and snoozing some more - that’s what huts are all about!

Sunday morning turned out to be somewhat colder than inside the hut - we woke to -30°C out! However it was still 30°C inside, very pleasant. Nevertheless, we decided to leave our nice, warm hut and venture to Jacks hut for the night where we knew the temperature would be -30°C on our arrival - after all we are intrepid Antarctic explorers following in Mawson’s footsteps, are we not?!

The trip to Jacks was magic. There was fog over the ocean so we were sitting up above it all while the sun set, absolutely brilliant. Jack’s was as expected - cold - however we soon got the gas heater going and after some hours got the hut to well above zero. Eddie cooked up a treat of lamb rack with potatoes, onions and peas, which in the cool conditions tasted even better than it would have on station.

It was a very pleasant three nights had out by all, made even more memorable by the very cold temps we experienced, though much of the year is below freezing here at Casey it’s not actually that often that we have it colder than -30°C . It is actually quite something to experience, and being out in a small hut knowing that our little 15 square metres of hut is all that separates us from the extreme cold out does make us feel that little bit more intrepid.

Until next trip.


*Midwinter is an unofficial holiday in Antarctica, celebrated by most stations on the continent. Australia honours this time of year with memorials, feasting, entertainment, station-specific traditions and a very icy swim. Midwinters Day is Friday 20 June this year.

Metal nuts and bolts covered in frost at Casey on the coldest morning for the 2014 Winter so far
At minus -30C everything looks, and is, cold
(Photo: Pete Hargreaves)
A bacon and egg burger for breakfast on Saturday monring at Casey
Can't leave without a good breakfast
(Photo: Pete Hargreaves)
Hagglund heading up onto the plateau out of Casey in the winter afternoon sun
Evening light on the plateau as we set off
(Photo: Pete Hargreaves)
A pizza fresh from the wood fired oven at Wilkes Hilton hut near Casey 2014
Dinner on Friday night
(Photo: Pete Hargreaves)
A thick fog rolling in at sunset, Wilkes Hilton hut near Casey
Fog at sunset
(Photo: Pete Hargreaves)
Old communications antenna covered in ice at the old Wilkes Station
Cold, frost-covered morning at Wilkes
(Photo: Pete Hargreaves)
Dan Laban at Wilkes hut on the Clark Peninsula
Dan slowly getting into cleaning mode before leaving Wilkes
(Photo: Pete Hargreaves)
A camera covered in frost at Wilkes
What happens to cameras left out all night
(Photo: Pete Hargreaves)
The sign marking the turn off to Jacks hut at Casey - with moon and pink sunset hues.
The turn-off to Jacks
(Photo: Pete Hargreaves)
A roast dinner cooked at Jacks hut - through a foggy lens due to the heat and humidity in the hut
Sunday roast at Jacks through a foggy camera lens
(Photo: Pete Hargreaves)

When it's cold

Temperatures here at Casey have been dropping and in the past week we had several days where it was well below -30°C. At these temperatures, boiling water thrown in the air will instantly condense.

We chose not to have that second cup of tea and make spectacular clouds instead, as you can see from the following pictures. 

A cup of hot water thrown into the air immediately vapourises and is captured by the camera as a spray of coloured cloud
Spectacular colourful cloud making at around -32C
(Photo: Grant Jasiunas)
A spray of cloud forms as Pete Hargreaves throws a cup of boiling water into the air at minus 30 degress C at Casey 2014
Pete makes his cloud just before the sun rises
(Photo: Pete Hargreaves)
Steve McInnerney makes clouds with by throwing a cup of boiling water into the air
Steve Mc has a go
(Photo: Pete Hargreaves)
Matt Melhuish making a cloud by throwing a cup of boiling water into the air when it is very cold (minus 30 degrees C) at Casey winter 2014
Matt making his cloud
(Photo: Pete Hargreaves)

Around Casey

A stunning shot of the sun through a fog that rolled into station this week.
An orange sun through a filter of fog at Casey 2014
The sun through a filter of fog
(Photo: Pete Hargreaves)