Week 1 - First impressions

Scientist, Mana Inoue, on the Wilkins Runway airstrip with the aircraft behind
Mana takes her first steps on the ice at Wilkins Runway (Photo: AAD)
Aerial view of Tasmanian coast lineFirst views of the sea ice from the aircraftFirst icebergs visible from the aircraftMana stands in front of Casey sign

I left Hobart on Tuesday 3 December on the Australian Antarctic Division’s Airbus A319. It’s much easier and faster to fly than to travel by ship, but quite a different experience to the gradual approach through the sea ice. Our flight was delayed by four hours, so I could sleep longer, but I was too excited to sleep.

The weather was good all the way from Hobart to Wilkins. As we left Hobart we could see Seven Mile Beach, a few islands and the beautiful southeast Tasmanian coast.

I saw my first iceberg about three hours into the flight. It was so tiny that it was hard to tell whether it was an iceberg or a patch of cloud. Then another one appeared; a little bigger this time. Then more and more and more, bigger and bigger and bigger! I saw beautiful blue ice and I saw an iceberg flip. I hit my forehead and nose on the window glass many times.

When we reached Antarctica our pilot gave us a short flying tour over Casey station. We saw the white continent, the sea ice, ice bergs and the ocean. It was an awesome, amazing and beautiful view. It was just beautiful.

About five hours after our departure from Hobart we landed smoothly on Wilkins Runway. Finally I got to step on Antarctica! It wasn’t cold at all with my full survival gear on. The sky was blue, there was no wind and the sun was very strong. One guy was walking around with a sunscreen tube, asking people to put it on, and telling us that “the sun is killing us here!”

We got on the bus for our drive to Casey station. Three hours later, and after a couple of photo stops, we arrived. Our Station Leader welcomed us and gave us an induction, before we settled in to our accommodation. It was a long exciting day and I’m happy to get into bed.

Mana Inoue is a PhD student at the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperate Research Centre and the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies at the University of Tasmania. She is working as a field assistant at Aurora Basin, cutting, scraping and analysing ice cores.