This week at Davis: 6 January 2017

It's been a busy two weeks. This included an appearance from Father Christmas, a delicious feast, a hot tub on New Year's Day and a visit from the neighbours.

Hi–Fog in the Powerhouse

Keeping the fire protection systems up to scratch is one of the main roles that the trades team undertake on a month to month basis. Over the past few weeks a number of the systems have undergone their annual checkups.

The main powerhouse (MPH) has a number of fire detection systems, with thermal detectors over each engine and the VESTA (very early smoke detection apparatus) system installed at ceiling level which can detect smoke before it can be smelt.

The fire suppression system in the MPH is Hi–Fog. Basically (as its name suggest) the Hi-Fog system is able to create a fog in the engine room so that in that in the event of a fire, a fine mist reduces the ability of any fire to reach flash–over (uncontrollable), by cooling the area. In essence, it is designed to prevent the room from becoming so hot that everything simultaneously ignites.

During the annual shutdown (servicing) of the MPH, a number of the Hi–Fog bays were initiated to assess their performance. It all went well.


A sprinkler on a ceiling is releasing a very fine mist of spray.
Hi–fog nozzle, releasing the fine mist into the Main Power House.
(Photo: Mark Pekin)
A fine fog is seen inside the Main Power House
Hi–fog testing
(Photo: Mark Pekin)
An expeditioner enjoys the steam bath provided by the hi-fog system when the water is released.
Hi–fog ghost
(Photo: Mark Pekin)

Davis communications team

The communications (comms) team are here to support all at the research station with travelling, working, and playing.

The comms officers (Mick and Sam) are everyone’s central point of contact and coordination when out and about, on or off station. They go on high alert when you miss a scheduled call in (there is a fine for that!), and are relieved when everyone makes it home in one piece and on time. They also have to manage a lot of radio channels and two phone lines.

When helicopter or fixed wing flights are buzzing around they have to keep up to date with arrival and departures to ensure safe operations and to keep other users clear of the heli ops zone. They also keep track of the longer flights from other stations.

We supply services like internet, phone, IT systems, email, and counselling for when Mick talks harshly to you (just kidding with the last one). Sometimes we have to try to manage heavy users without being big brother, so that there is fair access to the internet for everyone. We are essentially the lifeline back to the soft warm squishy world, so we encourage everyone on station to play nice!

There are two backup systems for the ANARESAT system that links us to the rest of the world – BGAN and Iridium. These are low data rate, or voice only systems that are only used should the main satellite link fail for some reason (very rare, but it can have glitches when the power fails for an extended time). It feels good to have double backup for your essential communications back to Australia.

Equipment we support and/or maintain includes radios, GPSs, carbon monoxide detectors, computers, printers, servers, projectors, data loggers, pagers, scientific equipment, phones (now including mobile!) and network equipment plus more. Many of these systems are out of sight to the average user but that means you use something we support many times a day.

We like giving each other a hard time (playfully) and enjoy helping people with work or play – how many comms sections will fix your Lego train remote controller? We encourage everyone on station to grab any of us at pretty well any time, but we do need some sleep!

The comms team

The comms and IT crew pose around the comms panel: Sam, Mick, Dave D., Robert and Dave P.
Sam and Mick (comms); Dave D, Robert and Dave P. (IT)
(Photo: Dave Pilon)
The communications desk at Davis. There are three computer screens, two with radio call and one with aviation tracking.
The Davis comms desk.
(Photo: Dave Pilon)
The computer panels that control the satellite.
The satellite controls room.
(Photo: Dave Pilon)
The back of a satellite disc, housed within a large dome.
The satellite disc within the ANARE dome.
(Photo: Dave Pilon)
The comms workshop, full of tools and spare parts for fixing various electronic equipment on station.
The comms workshop.
(Photo: Dave Pilon)

Christmas on station

Christmas and New Years was a great success after a lot of hard work from the kitchen.

As chefs it is a very busy time of year but it is also an opportunity for us to showcase our culinary skills. We also enjoy watching everyone fill their bellies with delicious food and drink, being merry and having a great time on station, all while missing their loved ones at home.

Have a great New Year! 

Kitchen team 

Father Christmas poses for the camera, with his reindeer and the Hagglund vehicle.
Father Christmas arrives in his Hägg, with reindeer in tow.
(Photo: Barry Becker)
Everyone is sitting in the Living Quarters building, lounging on couches, looking relaxed. Father Christmas is handing Al his present.
Al receives his present.
(Photo: Barry Becker)
Robert is sitting at a table, icing gingerbread men, which will be used as place markers for our special Christmas dinner.
Robert helps make gingerbread place markers for Christmas dinner.
(Photo: Barry Becker)
Gideon is putting Hollandaise sauce on egg and bacon muffins in the bay marie. Chefs can be seen in the kitchen behind him.
Gideon helps out in the kitchen, making a delicious brunch.
(Photo: Aaron Stanley)
The three station chefs (Kerryn, Arvid and Lesley) are all working in the kitchen, preparing Christmas lunch.
Chefs Kerryn, Arvid and Lesley preparing the Christmas feast.
(Photo: Aaron Stanley)
A buffet of freshly made pastries lines the table for Christmas brunch.
Freshly made pastries for Christmas brunch. It smelt amazing!
(Photo: Aaron Stanley)

New Year and the hot tub

End of calendar year is often a time of relaxation and winding down at functions all over Australia and beyond and Davis station is no different. It is an opportunity to relax with new friends and old, to eat fine food and have a few drinks. It is a place where we make our own fun and use our imagination to create a good atmosphere. The views from the mess or out on the balcony are simply stunning, looking out over the sea ice towards Anchorage and Gardner Islands to the icebergs on the horizon.

Fortunately the weather gods smiled on us and after a week of windy weather, it eased off to make for a fine, sunny but brisk day. What would be a party without music, so the amp and speakers were set up on the balcony to entertain the crowd and keep toes tapping. A wide variety of music was played during the evening, enough to suit most tastes.

Most of Australia welcomed in the New Year several hours ahead of us but at last it was our turn and a new year had begun. This New Year promises to be just as much fun, challenging and rewarding as 2016, so bring it on.


Expeditioners are sitting in couches, outside on the deck of the Living Quarters. Everyone is looking very relaxed.
Hanging out on the deck, admiring the view of Prydz Bay.
(Photo: Barry Becker)
A dozer is parked next to the deck. In the bucket is snow, which keeps the drinks cool.
The dozer bucket provides the Esky for our BBQ.
(Photo: Barry Becker)
The foreground is a bay covered in sea ice. On the hills behind sit the colourful buildings of Davis station.
The view of station looking up from the beach, over pack-ice.
(Photo: Barry Becker)
A beach scene, with bergy bits in the water and a beautiful evening light.
The view from the beach, out into Prydz Bay.
(Photo: Barry Becker)
Nine people are sitting in a home made hot tub, looking very relaxed.
The hot tub on New Year's Day.
(Photo: Barry Becker)
Three people are in the hot tub. In the background you can see sea-ice in the bay.
The spectacular view out into Prydz Bay.
(Photo: Barry Becker)

Chinese neighbours come to visit

On Tuesday we had eleven of our CHINARE neighbours visit Davis for a meeting about two international projects that are being conducted this season.

They arrived by Kamov helicopter, which is a work horse of a machine. It was heard from a long way off on its approach to station, and was impressive up close.

The CHINARE personnel are based at Zhongshan, a Chinese station located in the Larsemann Hills area, west of Davis station. Larsemann Hills is also home to both an Indian (Bharati) and Russian station (Progress). Consequently, there is a great sense of international good will and support down on the continent.


The Australian and Chinese flags are flying from the flagpole. Above them a helicopter is visible, flying into station.
The CHINARE Kamov flying into Davis.
(Photo: Barry Becker)
The Kamov helicopter is on the helipad, people are walking around the machine.
The Kamov on the helipad.
(Photo: Barry Becker)
The Chinese team meet our personnel on the helipad: Kirsten (Station Leader), Sharon (Operations Co-ordinator) and Chris (FTO).
The CHINARE team meet our team: Kirsten (Station Leader), Sharon (Operations Co-ordinator)…
(Photo: Barry Becker)
A close up of the Kamov helicopter. With its two rotors, skis and bus like bulk, used to lift heavy loads and transport lots of people.
The Kamov up close.
(Photo: Barry Becker)