Planning to spend a year in the world’s last great wilderness is not always at the top of an ordinary Australian’s 'to do’ list, but that’s because it takes an extraordinary person to want to be an Antarctic station leader.
Dr Sharman Stone, Parliamentary Secretary responsible for the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) today announced Australia’s Antarctic station leaders for 2005.
“Dr Jeremy Smith from New South Wales will go to Casey station, Ms Rachael Robertson from Victoria will go to Davis station and Mr Graham Cook from New South Wales will be station leader at Mawson. My congratulations to the three successful candidates who were chosen from a field of 65 from all over Australia," Dr Stone said.
“Jeremy Smith is a scientist, former Associate Professor of Biology at New England University in New South Wales and has been station leader on three previous occasions, including Macquarie Island in 1996 and Davis station in 2001 and 2003.
“Rachael Robertson is the Chief Ranger, West Coast with Parks Victoria, a position she has held since 2000 following other management roles within the department at various Victorian locations. Her posting to Davis station will be her first experience in Antarctica.
“Graham Cook has spent the past three years in operations management with Federal Hotels’ Strahan Resort and Village on Tasmania’s west coast. For 10 years before that he was responsible for the operation of a number of remote Aboriginal community stores in Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory and the Kimberley in Western Australia. This will be his first trip to Antarctica.”
Dr Stone said because Antarctic station leaders carried the responsibility for the smooth running of the stations and the welfare of its expeditioners, it was important to choose the right person.
“The selection process is necessarily rigorous and station leaders need to be able to cope with sub-zero temperatures and sometimes not seeing the sun for long periods of time,” Dr Stone said.
“Around 300 expeditioners travel south with the Australian Antarctic Division each summer with about 70 remaining over the winter. We need to be as certain as we can that our station leaders have what it takes to cope with whatever circumstances may be thrown at them in the remote and often inhospitable Antarctic environment.”
Dr Stone said station leaders would begin their training program at the Australian Antarctic Division in Tasmania at the end of July in preparation for the year ahead. The station leader for Macquarie Island will be announced later in the year.
The AAD manages Australia’s scientific research program in Antarctica.
Australia claims 42 per cent of Antarctica and is responsible for four stations: Casey, Davis and Mawson on the Antarctic continent and Macquarie Island in the sub-Antarctic.