Casey turns 50

Director Kim Ellis (right) presents a 50th anniversary photograph to Casey Station Leader Christine MacMillian.
Director Kim Ellis (right) presents a 50th anniversary photograph to Casey Station Leader Christine MacMillian. (Photo: Jordan Smith)

Casey research station hit a half century in February.

The station was officially opened on 19 February 1969, and named ‘Casey’ after the then Governor-General Sir Richard Casey, a staunch supporter of Australia’s early Antarctic program. Since then it has been home to more than 1000 over-wintering expeditioners.

Australia’s presence in the region began a decade earlier in January 1959, when Australia took over the United States-built Wilkes station, on the Clarke Peninsula. However it soon became clear that Wilkes would be buried by deepening snow drifts, which threatened the structural integrity of the buildings.

In 1964, Australia commenced work on a replacement station, cleverly named ‘REPSTAT’, located nearby on the Bailey Peninsula. REPSTAT had a unique design, with a 260 metre-long corrugated-iron ‘tunnel’ connecting 13 buildings, elevated on stilts to minimise snow drifts.

REPSTAT was used for 19 years before it was decommissioned. Construction of a new Casey station began in 1979, providing a greater degree of comfort and safety, and incorporating state-of-the-art facilities.

Casey has continued to develop and change, particularly since 2007, with the opening of Wilkins Aerodrome increasing the number of expeditioners staying at and passing through the station.

Mark Horstman