Antarctic video gallery
Mike Woolridge – Davis
Mike Woolridge first joined the Antarctic Division in 1993 as an expeditioner. He talks here about his upcoming post as station leader at Davis station.
Mike Woolridge – Davis
Mike Woolridge - Station Leader, Davis station
Hi I'm Mike Woolridge. I'm off to Davis, as a station leader for the summer, and I'm from Blackmans Bay in Tasmania. I came to work for the Antarctic Division in 1993. I can remember vividly walking through these front doors as an expeditioner and by the end of the day I knew I wanted to work here and I would like to go back, and it's always been a goal of mine to manage a station as a station leader. The attraction of Antarctica is basically the passion you build up for having been there. For people that haven't been there, it's usually this mysterious place at the end of the world. Once you've been fortunate to go there, you just realise what it has to offer and what a great place it is. I probably spent two years of my life at Davis station already. But the challenge of working with the community and managing the program for the season is going to be really exciting. Davis has a really big season ahead of it. We're in the middle of constructing a new living quarters, so we have a big building project team going down there to finish construction and fit out over the winter. We also have a treaty inspection coming down. Our director will visit Davis and from Davis they will fly to our neighbours. I would have said local, but they will be quite some way away. We have Russians, Chinese, Japanese stations, in that area of East Antarctica. And we will be conducting treaty inspections. There's going to be a dive program at Davis and that's going to be exciting. And a lot of boating programs.
Davis does have wildlife like most spots in Antarctica, it's significant to that area and you get what you're given. We have penguins, different types of penguins. It's not very far to an emperor penguin colony. We have local Adélie penguins. Davis is lucky in that it also gets elephant seals, there's a wallow there. So towards the end of summer, elephant seals are going to come back to that wallow and expeditioners get the chance to see wildlife like that. And an amazing array of birds.
Mike Craven – Mawson
Veteran Antarctic expeditioner Mike Craven, has been going south since 1982. Mike explains why he has taken on the station leader role at Mawson this year.
Mike Craven – Mawson
Mike Craven - Station Leader, Mawson
Hello, I’m Mike Craven. I’m from Margate, five acres down the road here, and I’m heading to Mawson this summer and staying for the 2010 winter. I’ve been going south since 1982. I first decided to go when I was waving away the perspiration in Brisbane on a real hot day with The Courier Mail, and saw a full-page ad for Antarctica and I’ve been hooked ever since.
My very first trip was actually to Macquarie Island and what I felt there was the noise, the hustle and bustle of the animals in summer, because there were just millions of seabirds and seals and things along the beaches, and it just seemed to be a hive of activity. It was just nature just running rampant. It was a really great feeling to be part of it; to actually have the privilege to sit amongst those animals and just enjoy and share what they do throughout the day.
I was attracted to Antarctica by talking to people who’d been before. It struck me as a place that had a freedom to it. It’s a cashless society, it’s a place where people work for each other. Yet, the challenges in Antarctica are the same as ever in terms of environment. The main part of Antarctica’s very cold and is going to be that way through the winter, anyway. The isolation becomes quite extreme when the sun disappears, but communications these days are extremely good.
I think as station leader, my main role is going to be making sure the community acts in harmony and work together for a common purpose, not just in the job that you go down to do but for the entire group, to make sure everybody works well together. Then I guess on another level, from an administrative point of view, it’s just the safety and compliance, making sure everything happens in a manner in which the whole season goes well together.
From my own personal point of view, I really want to go and see the emperor penguins at the Oster colony again. I think it’s one of the wonders of the world.
Injured expeditioner evacuated by US aircraft
Watch a video of Dr Tony Press and Dr Jeff Ayton of the Australian Antarctic Division along with Captain Greg Richert and Major Dave Lafrance of the US Air Force speaking to the media
Injured expeditioner evacuated by US aircraft
Dr Tony Press:
Well, it was a great relief last night to see the aircraft carrying Dwayne land at Hobart Airport shortly before midnight and, on behalf of all the Australian Antarctic expeditioners, we wish him the best. The second thing I’d like to say is that it’s a great tribute to the medical staff and the lay medical team that have looked after Dwayne for the last 18 days that he’s arrived in as good a shape as he could and the reports are that he’s as well as can be expected under very trying circumstances.
The third thing is that I’d really like to thank our colleagues from the US National Science Foundation and US Antarctic Program and our friends from the US Airforce that have given us a great deal of assistance in getting Dwayne back to Australia. This is something that underpins the spirit of the Antarctic Treaty and the cooperation between Antarctic Treaty parties and we’re very, very thankful for the help.
The last thing I’d like to say is my staff have done a magnificent job and I’m really proud of them.
Captain Greg Richert:
For the patient’s safety, we had to make sure to keep him immobilised due to his injuries, which was very complicated in a plane. They vibrate quite a bit, which can also add to a lot of pain problems due to his injuries, which I really shouldn’t get into for privacy’s sake. He had a significant amount of injuries that required a lot of pain control. For that, we ended up having to sedate him entirely for the entire flight so, because of that, we chose to bring a critical care specialist with me from Hawaii which came down a couple of days before the mission.
And then also we had a physician from the Australian Antarctic Division Department, who was a critical care specialist and critical care nurse from their team come, along with my three-person (myself included) team at McMurdo Station gave us an eight-person medical team that was able to intensively monitor the patient the entire flight, keep him stable, keep him sedated for comfort and basically make sure his positioning didn’t change that would further aggravate his injuries.
And the entire flight he was stable. It went as well as we could have hoped for and was very uneventful once we got him on the plane and got him stabilised.
Major Dave Lafrance:
The challenge for us was to see how well the folks at Davis had actually prepared the surface for us and they kind of went so we’ve got to get a plane in, what’s the length that you need and it’s not like you have somebody on station that’s experienced at all the camps at making a proper runway and so, you know, we asked him for as many pictures as possible and I’m envisioning quite a rough surface and it’s going to be quite challenging and I’ll tell you that the folks down there just prepared a great runway for us. It was smooth, it was quite slick but the biggest obstacle for us was making sure the penguins stayed out of our way. [laughter]
They did a fabulous job getting it ready for us and they actually, when we landed, they said, “You only used about a quarter of the runway and we prepared all this runway for you,” and I said, “Don’t worry. Tomorrow we’re taking out very heavy so I’ll use almost all your runway,” and so they did a great job and it made my job a lot easier.
Dr Jeff Ayton:
Firstly, I’d like to say I’m extremely grateful for the efforts of Captain Richards and his team at bringing Dwayne back to Hobart. Dwayne was cared for by the Flying Doctor for 10 days in Antarctica and the lay medical assistants. He has serious injuries but he’s stable and he remains stable and he was stable throughout the flight and this morning at the Royal Hobart Hospital he remains stable. He is being managed in intensive care and will be going to surgery at the earliest opportunity to start surgery on his ankles and feet, which are the most concerning injuries for Dwayne.
The doctor we have down there, Dr Lloyd Fletcher, he is a very experienced doctor. He’s on his eighth winter in Antarctica. He’s a generalist remote medicine doctor and he has done a heroic effort with his lay team in managing Dwayne. Certainly, there are stresses and that those stresses and fatigue are managed with support, tele-medical support, back to the polar medicine unit here and we had four-hourly contacts with the station and the station doctor and the lay medical assistants throughout that period. Of course, it was a huge relief to get the second doctor in at day 10 and some additional medical supplies and then a further relief to have Dwayne safely back in Australia in the early hours of this morning.
The family had an opportunity to see Dwayne at the airport last night at about - just before midnight and I’ve been in contact with the family right throughout the scenario.
Ice core features at Australia's 2020 summit
Ice core features at Australia's 2020 summit
Hon. Michael Jeffrey - Governor-General
Prime Minister, Michael Davis, distinguished guests all, I acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we meet today, their wisdom, enduring history and culture, and I commend the Prime Minister for calling the 2020 summit and inviting this wide cross-section of our society from across the length and the breadth of the land to share ideas, hopes and aspirations. A very warm welcome to you all to the nation’s beautiful capital.
Let me show you something. This ice core retrieved by our internationally-recognised scientists from Australia’s Antarctic Division provides part of a record of human activity on this planet reaching back some 80,000 years. Around the beginning of that period, the first indigenous people arrived here. Alone among the human inhabitants of the planet, they and their descendants stayed and watched the retreat from the Ice Age, the separation of Tasmania from the mainland, the filling of the shallow lakes in Central Australia and then as they slowly dried up.
Indeed, in offering up the secrets of our past, especially the process of climate change, this ice core also informs our present and our future. The connectedness revealed in the ice core between our past and future makes this summit especially timely.
As a nation, we’re facing diverse challenges and opportunities at local, national and global levels and, for the benefit of future generations, we must constantly question the adequacy of continuing with a business-as-usual approach. For example, have we given sufficient attention to the suggestion that, as a planet of six billion people, we are already consuming around 20% more resources than our globe can sustain? What are the implications for nine billion by 2050?
In this, the driest of continents, should we be looking at diverting water from the wetter north of the continent or should we relocate or develop new infrastructure to the north to take advantage of the availability of plentiful water, energy, minerals and space? And what of the fundamental fabric of our society: the family? Can we do more to strengthen the family unit to reduce the very high incidence of family breakup, to better prepare young people for adulthood and to strengthen their sense of social responsibility?
There are many questions that we can ask and, with the goodwill and cooperation of all participants, the conclusions of this summit have the potential to be far reaching in shaping this nation’s long-term future. Indeed, we have a proud record of putting ideas to work to meet the diverse challenges of the nation, including surf lifesaving with half a million lives saved, the Royal Flying Doctor Service assisting more than a quarter of a million patients each year, and the iconic Snowy Mountain Scheme.
Nor should we forget the wisdom of our indigenous people and what we can learn from their capacity to survive major change on this continent, or indeed the wisdom of our founding fathers who gave us our enduring Constitution.
As I move around this country, I’m constantly struck by the ingenuity, innovation and creativity of our fellow Australians in so many fields of endeavour; the arts, science, medicine, agriculture to name but some. So I urge all here to draw inspiration from the many examples of Australian excellence and innovation and to seize this opportunity to go even further, to harness ideas and link them more broadly across disciplines, regions and sectors of our national life.
Well, ladies and gentlemen, your participation in this summit offers the potential to build an even better country, a nation of excellence, a global example, as I often term it. I encourage you, and indeed all Australians, to use the momentum generated through these discussions to be individual and collective ambassadors for a better future. I also urge you to undertake your task here in an open and constructive manner and with a spirit of collegiality, and I ask that these events be faithfully and objectively reported in a positive and constructive way to assist the nation’s understanding of the issues before it.
As our ice core shows, we live in a country with a capacity to understand the past through our own ingenuity. No-one should be in any doubt that we are at an important threshold in terms of the challenges and the opportunities this country faces. I wish you every success in this challenging but exciting task and, with the rest of the nation, look forward to being comprehensively and accurately informed of your conclusions.
All the best and thank you very much.