A diverse set of skills is often one of the few things station leaders have in common and the newly appointed team is no different.
Robb Clifton, whose regular job is as the Division’s Operations Manager, will head to Davis for the 2017–18 summer and oversee a busy science and trades schedule.
“I work really closely with the station leaders to coordinate the program on the continent and manage shipping, aviation, and station resources,” Robb said.
“For me to kind of get back on the tools at the coalface of our operations is a really great opportunity to reconnect with life on the continent and the challenges of delivering the Australian Antarctic Program.”
Five-time station leader Jason Ahrens will spend the 2018 winter at Davis, with a team of 18 expeditioners, who will be isolated for close to nine months.
“I really enjoy the fact that you are so remote, and you're a small community who have to look out for each other,” Jason said.
“Whatever happens, there’s no one coming down to help in anything we do — it’s just us and we have to work as a team to.”
Rebecca Jeffcoat grew up reading about the heroes of Antarctic exploration such as Mawson and Shackleton and has long aspired to live in Antarctica. She is taking leave from the Royal Australian Navy to be the station leader at Casey research station.
“Not having a trade, the station leader role was an opportunity for me to live and work in Antarctica and I just love the environment down south,” Rebecca said.
“I was lucky enough in 1999 to do a resupply voyage on Aurora Australis, to get experience forecasting in the Southern Ocean and I’ve undertaken the fisheries patrols down at Heard Island and McDonald Island with the Navy.
Rebecca will oversee a busy aviation season.
Esther Rodewald will head to Mawson research station for 12 months in January 2018. She finished her first station leader stint on the sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island in March this year.
Esther spent 25 years working in production in the film and television industry, both in Australia and the UK.
“It was reassuring to learn that years of budgeting, scheduling, equipping and moving film crews around cities was suitable training for the rigours of managing a station and resupply activities,” Esther said.
She’s looking forward to the new challenges Antarctica will bring to the station leader role.
“In Antarctica you have to travel in pairs, unlike Macquarie Island where you can go for a walk on your own,” Esther said.
“Mawson’s also very windy, so you're often quite restricted just to even how you can travel around the station and these factors will present their own challenges in terms of how the group connects and functions when we are in each other’s pockets the whole time.”
Antarctic veteran Alison Dean will be the station leader for Macquarie Island from March 2018.
Alison first joined the Australian Antarctic Program as a geologist and has worked in operations and been a station leader at all of Australia’s research stations.