Casey competes in the Antarctic 48 Hour Film Festival, does maintenance on the waste treatment plant and Misty interviews Plant Operator, Jon.

Waste treatment plant maintenance

With winter approaching its conclusion, the pressure is on for all of the critical maintenance jobs on station to be completed ahead of the busy spring program starting in anticipation of summer population arriving in less than three months time. The plumbers, Jamie and Rob, have been doing some important work in the west wing of the living quarters to ensure that there is ample heating once that part of the Red Shed becomes occupied again (we shut it down for the winter when there are only a few of us on station). But as with most things down here, as one thing gets accomplished another challenge is already waiting for you and for Jamie and Rob, it was the dreaded winter maintenance of the waste treatment plant, known affectionately here as the “poo farm”.

Without going into too much detail, large macerating discs are an important part of the waste treatment process in our treatment plant. These need periodic servicing and occasional dismantling and rebuilding. In order to do this, the holding tanks need to be emptied and cleaned, the discs removed and cleaned, then repaired or rebuilt before putting it all back together again and then even more cleaning. Cleaning is a pretty major part of anything done down in the “poo farm”.

But once again, after a pretty tough week, the waste treatment plant is up and running and we can rest assured that we will continue to meet our important environmental targets. Also, once again, we are reminded that the plumbers control both the drinking water and the waste on station. They are certainly not people to be trifled with.

Thanks Rob and Jamie — we appreciate it despite all the stirring.

The Antarctic 48 Hour Film Festival

Each year many of the Antarctica research stations celebrate a 48 hour film festival. It is one of the ways that, during winter, people on isolated stations can feel part of a wider community. It is also a lot of fun. The film festival is organised by the United States McMurdo Base and requires participating stations to make a short film (5 minutes or less) over a weekend. This year it was last weekend, 4–5 August. The short films (as is the norm for these sorts of festivals) must contain five essential ‘elements'. The elements are chosen by stations who have won the festival in previous years and this information is passed on to station film crews the evening before shooting is allowed to begin. So it is a flurry of activity putting together a creative idea, writing a script around it, ensuring all of the elements are included and then creating costumes and sets, filming the production and finally editing. This year the elements we had to include were (1) a queen, (2) a computer mouse, (3) a map of the local station area, (4) the sound of ice cracking, and (5) the line of dialogue “I will save you”. 

As usual there was no shortage of participants on station. We ran up a storyboard and rough script in the wee hours of Saturday morning, turned it into a working script before lunch, sorted out casting, costumes, set design, fiming locations and started the filming itself on Saturday afternoon and continued to film well into Saturday evening. So on Sunday there were simply a few shots to get in the morning and then a long day of editing to turn it all into our short film. The station all sat down after dinner on Sunday evening around 7.30 and watched our film in the Odeon. There were plenty of laughs and the consensus was that even if none of the other stations liked it, the whole venture had already been more than enough fun.

Misty’s Mad Minute, introducing Jon

NAME:  Jon Mitchell 

NICKNAME: Mitch, Jono, Jonny

ROLE ON STATION: Station Plant Operator/Aerodrome Plant Operator

OTHER APPOINTMENTS:  Hydroponics, SAR Team, Power House, does a good imitation of a motor mechanic

Describe yourself in 3 words.  Tall, grey, employed.

Who inspires you?  People who make the most of what they’ve got, and enjoy it.

What is the one thing you enjoy most about your current job?  Different every day, good crew.

Why Antarctica?  Environment, weather, spectacular scenery and the challenges.

What did you give up to come to Antarctica?  Motorbike rides, great friends and family.

Do you have a home to go back to?  A beautiful home in the bush.

Do you think your pets will bite you?  No pets at present.

Any work lined up on your return to Australia?  Not if I can help it.

What other occupation would you have if not a Plant Operator?  Chippy. I like pies and chocolate milk.

Are you continuing study/ tertiary ed. / services duty?  Finishing, Diploma of Conservation and Land Management.

If not at Casey this year, what else would you be doing?  Working in the bush, riding the bike, travelling perhaps.

Hobbies at Casey?  Learn Spanish.

New hobbies for home and the future?  Improve my carpentry and extend my home.

Buying any large toys on your return home?  A new motorbike, the Ducati 1098.

Holidays planned?  Vietnam or India, Nepal

The Red Shed is burning down and you are only have time to save 1 thing?  Computer.

You are stuck on a deserted island with one person?  Jennifer Hawkins.

Which other Antarctic station would you like to visit?  Davis.

What are your tastebuds craving most?  Avocados.

One item you wished you brought down?  More comfy clothes to slack off in.

Your favourite hut?  Wilkes/Smokers hut.

Favourite Antarctic wildlife?  Snow Petrel.

Most important thing you would take on a jolly?  Heaps of good music.

Favourite summer highlight?  First A319 flight to Wilkins Aerodrome.

Antarctic highlight?  Traversing in blizzard conditions.

Winter highlight so far? Midwinter dinner and celebrations.

Name three people you would like to invite to the Midwinter Dinner? Couldn’t pick only 3

Name one person you most like to winter with? Adam, our Chef at Wilkins last season. Funny guy, great cook.

If your life was a song, which one would it be this week? Running on Faith by Eric Clapton.

Favourite day of the year? Every Saturday.

Favourite place in the world? I love where I live, so far east Gippsland.

How do you have your jalapenos? Any which way.

If Comms could download one Olympic event for us to watch this year, any request? Women’s boxing.

What is the first thing you will do when you return to Australia? Enjoy the post-voyage celebrations.