This week at the station

This week at Casey: 27 June 2014

Blizzing in the balloon shed

This week started with a blizzard (winds over 100 knots and 200 kilometers per hour with nil visibility) which left the outside of the balloon shed clean of snow. This is great as the normal situation is that the duty observer has to dig out the balloon shed door in order to launch the morning balloon.

However, this blizzard had a surprise in store for us. While there was no snow on the outside, the balloon room itself was full of tons snow which took Stewie and Gunny most of the day to move, and that was with the aid of a Herman Nelson (industrial heater). The facility was rendered safe by isolating the hydrogen gas and disabling the fire alarms.

Typically, a following blizzard 24 hours later filled the shed up again but this time it was Steve and Dan who cleared the snow.

Unfortunately the midwinters swim has had to be delayed due to weather (and the blizz blowing away most of our sea ice and depositing a greater than metre thick layer so we could not see what remained).

Photo of the weather statistics on a phone at Casey station, Antarctica
Blizz in progress
(Photo: Pete Hargreaves)
The north entrance of the balloon shed with snow either side, Casey station.
You beauty - looks clear
(Photo: Kevin Gunn)
West end of the balloon shed, Casey station.
Yep, no blizz to clear away here
(Photo: Kevin Gunn)
Blizz inside the balloon shed, Casey station.
Hmm, I could have sworn that wasn't there yesterday!
(Photo: Kevin Gunn)
Inside the balloon room, Casey station
I don't remember putting in a 500mm deep white carpet!
(Photo: Kevin Gunn)

What came first

At Casey, we started our midwinter celebrations with a delicious brunch in the Wallow - partly to allow the dining room to be decorated and table set for our dinner due to start in the late afternoon, but mostly to keep out of Eddie’s way as he made those last minute preparations.

Our brunch delivered the necessary to last until the afternoon’s feast – bacon, eggs and sausages along with croissants, Danish style pastries, Bircher museli, winter fruit compote, freshly made yogurt, fruit juices, and banana smoothies.

We quietly demolished that, then set about getting everything prepared, including ourselves. With the swim delayed for a better day, many took a dip in the hot pool set up outside the front entrance to the red shed. A frosted beard was cultivated by some to look the part.

We then dressed and congregated for photos in our finery, complete with glass of bubbly, to start the formal proceedings of the day.

Brunch set out in the Wallow ready for eating at Casey - Midwinters Day 2014
Brunch set out in the Wallow, ready to go
(Photo: Pete Hargreaves)
Casey expedtioners having brunch on midwinters day - winter 2014
A quiet start to midwinters day
(Photo: Rob Bennett)
A close up picture of a tray of Danish pastries made at Casey for Midwinter brunch - winter 2014
Danish pastry close-up
(Photo: Pete Hargreaves)
Nick Johnson looking at the camera strangely at Casey - winter 2014
Suspicious looking character
(Photo: Rob Bennett)
The Casey formal midwinter photo for 2014
All together scrubbed, tidy, and height sorted thanks to Pete
(Photo: Station Photographer Joe Dragone)

Midwinter festivities

Midwinters, the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year -  on the 22 July the sun starts returning and before we know it we’ll have 24 hours of daylight. How quickly the seasons change down here!

Back to midwinters, this is the biggest celebration on the Antarctic calendar, an event that all here celebrate in varying ways, regardless of what country people are from or on what part of the continent their base is situated. It’s not just Antarctica where midwinters is celebrated either, especially by those people who have been fortunate enough to have summered or wintered on this magnificent continent previously. Every year hundreds of people attend midwinters dinners all over Australia with the biggest being held in Hobart, Tasmania - over 200 guests attending. Many friends are reunited, stories swapped and tales told. It’s nice to know that many of our friends are celebrating at home as we are celebrating down here.

As a general rule at Australian stations, and indeed for us here at Casey, this year midwinters 22 June encompasses a huge day. In fact, we saved some earlier public holidays and made ours last five days. The day is started with brunch, followed by a dip in the ocean (weather permitting), a meal that often goes on for hours interspersed with readings, poems, toasts, messages from home and the like, and in the late evening some locally produced entertainment often followed by the screening of that quintessential Antarctic movie, ‘The Thing’. This year we also threw in a midwinter olympics - 'The Red Shed Games' - comprising various events from mini golf and carpet bowls in the red shed to curling and ice hockey using ice pucks and curling ice (stones).*

Despite Scotty’s birthday, post-dinner entertainment by Elvis and Roy, games, movies and so on, the most anticipated event of our five days of celebrations, spoken about for months in the lead up, is the midwinters dinner. This year was no exception, taking months of planning, weeks of preparation and several days of prep time including the day itself. This year our chef at Casey, Eddie, did an outstanding job preparing our ten courses, although we only got through nine (we ran out of time and stomach capacity). It was an event to remember for years to come. Below are some photos of the day that will better sum up our event, so I’ll sign off and let them do the talking.

Pete

*to be reported in next week's edition of 'This Week At Casey'.

Midwinters dinner announcement with bright pink font and a photo of an aurora australis as background
Casey midwinters dinner announcement
(Photo: Pete Hargreaves)
Midwinters menu
Midwinters menu
(Photo: Pete Hargreaves)
Table setting
Table setting
(Photo: Pete Hargreaves)
The 67th ANARE at the dinner table ready to begin eating - Midwinters Day Casey 2014
All set to begin
(Photo: Rob Bennett)
Lobster with caviar, cucumber spaghetti and lemon gel on a white plate
Lobster with caviar, cucumber spaghetti and lemon gel
(Photo: Pete Hargreaves)
Chicken consomme in a glass and tempura mousseline on a white ceramic spoon-dish
Chicken consomme and tempura mousseline
(Photo: Pete Hargreaves)
Foie gras cigar with crispy prosciutto, burned fig gel and ginger soil arranged artistically on a plate
Foie gras cigar with crispy prosciutto, burned fig gel and ginger soil
(Photo: Pete Hargreaves)
A large, teardrop shaped, thin ice 'igloo' containing lemon sherbet sorbet
Lemon sherbet sorbet igloo
(Photo: Pete Hargreaves)
Expeditioner inserts a spoon into a large, teardrop shaped, thin ice 'igloo' containing lemon sherbet sorbet - photo taken from above
Lemon sherbet sorbet igloo
(Photo: Pete Hargreaves)
A large, teardrop shaped, thin ice 'igloo' containing lemon sherbet sorbet
Lemon sherbet sorbet igloo
(Photo: Pete Hargreaves)
Entree sized dish with fillet of lamb with goat cheese ravioles and beet foam
Fillet of lamb with goat cheese ravioles and beet foam
(Photo: Pete Hargreaves)
Duck leg confit and grilled duck breast with orange couscous and citrus foam. arragned artistically
Duck leg confit and grilled duck breast with orange couscous and citrus…
(Photo: Pete Hargreaves)
Sous vide beef with Morilles mushroom, fondant potato and Porcini foam, arranged artistically
Sous vide beef with Morilles mushroom, fondant potato and Porcini foam
(Photo: Pete Hargreaves)
Bacon egg spaghetti sweet surprise dish, entree sized
Bacon egg spaghetti sweet surprise
(Photo: Pete Hargreaves)
Scotty's white chocolate ice cream birthday cake, what looks like a tower of mini chocolate cakes with drizzled white chocolate frosting
Scotty's white chocolate ice cream birthday cake
(Photo: Pete Hargreaves)
A part of the whole, a mini version of Scotty's white chocolate ice cream birthday cake
Scotty's white chocolate ice cream birthday cake
(Photo: Pete Hargreaves)
Deconstructed cheesecake with the crust separate from the cake, used as a cross decoration on the plate - a decorative dish
Deconstructed cheesecake
(Photo: Pete Hargreaves)
Chef Eddie shows off his iced igloo dessert - he has a dark beard and big smile
The man himself
(Photo: Pete Hargreaves)
Shane and Joe, enjoying a heritage drink
Shane and Joe, enjoying a heritage drink
(Photo: Pete Hargreaves)
A gift to the station
A gift to the station
(Photo: Pete Hargreaves)
Scotty's birthday
Scotty's birthday
(Photo: Pete Hargreaves)
Elvis Casey
Elvis Casey
(Photo: Pete Hargreaves)
Roy Casey
Roy Casey
(Photo: Pete Hargreaves)

Extreme viewing of The Thing

We watched the 1982 classic ‘The Thing’ after our midwinter dinner and the somewhat riotous entertainment that followed – a chance to wind down from the events of the day (despite this not even starting until around 0100 in the morning).

We did intend to follow the first film with the new version but most were snoozing at the end of the first one so we decided to leave that for another evening, as we had a few days leave still up our sleeves.

On Monday night we decided to brave the - 22°C temperatures and visit the stunning outdoor cinema carved into a bliz tail (snow accumulated in the lee of buildings) at the end of the red shed by none other than our resident plant operator Cary Collis.

We picked a tier and settled down to watch with some more prepared than others. I know I had a thermarest, an aerobics mat, a hot water bottle, a thermos flask, a freezer suit, two woollen blankets, several scarves, my rabbit-skin Mad Bomber hat, thick socks and glacier boots, and finally warm gloves (plus chocolates and a drop of Baileys to add to the coffee) - the only things showing were my eyes.

It was the perfect setting – the slightly rough ice that served as a screen fitted in well with the Antarctic scenery depicted in the movie, adding a three dimensional effect. And to top it all off there was an aurora overhead to add atmosphere.

Close up of Cary Collis at Casey 2014 with ice on his beard and a red, cold face
Cary, our outdoor cinema constructor
(Photo: Pete Hargreaves)
Pete Hargreaves pointing to the temperature read out in the dining room at Casey 2014
Pete checking the temperature
(Photo: Pete Hargreaves)
Pete Hargreaves and Stu Griggs in freezer suits at Casey 2014
Handsome duo
(Photo: Pete Hargreaves)
Expedtioners at Casey watching a movie outside in the winter 2014
Avid movie goers - on the edge of their seats
(Photo: Rob Bennett)
Rob Bennett at the outdoor movie in a freezer suit for the cold with a cup of coffee from a thermos - Casey winter 2014
Keeping warm - hot coffee with a dash of Irish
(Photo: Pete Hargreaves)
A view of the outdoor movie screen at Casey - winter 2014
The movie screen with that 3D effect
(Photo: Rob Bennett)
The outside movie at Casey with the aurora showing faintly in the sky - Casey Midwinter 2014
The movie with touch of aurora on the side
(Photo: Grant Jasiunas)
Group dressed in freezer suits (one with hot water bottle) after watching an outside movie at Casey - winter 2014
Those hardy few that made it to the scary end (NB designer…
(Photo: Pete Hargreaves)
This page was last modified on 16 December 2010.