Sledding in Antarctica via Casey station and an interview with Craig.

Travelling on the ice the old fashioned way

The wind battered the small tent, plummeting the wind chill temperature to −50°C as we packed our sleds and continued on the foot traverse across the polar plateau. The blowing snow blurred the hard blue ice around our feet. 

Craig, Stu and I had been planning this trip for months and based ourselves at Browning Hut for some days of exploration on Peterson Island in search of a cairn left by the American Navy in 1948. We later scrambled over icy ridges and navigated frozen lakes to reach the island’s high point. We looked out and soaked up the views of the Vanderford Glacier which glistened like a sea of crushed blue diamonds in the soft afternoon sun.   

Next morning we travelled on the sea ice to take scientific measurements, skirting the icy cliffs chiselled from the continent. We all shared the navigation, radio calls back to station (every 30 minutes for safety) and drilling as we made our way to Robbo’s Hut for some hot food and a soft bed.

Six days and 90km after leaving, we hauled our sleds over a final ridge to the familiar sight of Casey silhouetted against the horizon. Despite being a record low of −32.4°C, all the discomforts of camping and sled hauling gave way to a warm glow within me. It was the feeling of having been immersed and experiencing the real Antarctica.

Gavin, Station Chef

Misty’s Mad Minute introducing Craig

Craig George

NICKNAME: I get called lots of things during circuit classes but luckily none of them have stuck.

ROLE ON STATION: Weather observer.

OTHER APPOINTMENTS: Lay surgical assistant, pain train conductor (gym manager), sea ice drilling, sports statistician, plus a bit of hydroponics and brewing.

Describe yourself in three words. Bit too relaxed.

Who inspires you? Good people.

What is the one thing you enjoy most about your current job? The commute.

Why Antarctica? It has held a strange allure for a long time being such a unique piece of the planet.

What did you give up to come to Antarctica? A year of other experiences.

Do you have a home to go back to? Yes and no. My home is not located where my work is.

Do you think your pets will bite you? Due to moving around I don’t have any. But when I visit family my Dad’s cat will as it always does. One of the MANY reasons I like dogs.

Any work lined up on your return to Australia? Yes, but not looking like being in Australia.

What occupation did you have before Antarctica? I work as a weather observer for the Bureau of Meteorology in the Northern Territory. Antarctica is a volunteer posting.

But what job would you really like? This is pretty good for now but I did used to want to be an on-track bookie. They’re a bit of a dying breed these days unfortunately.

Are you continuing study/ tertiary ed. / services duty? I bought a textbook and that was as close as I got.

Hobbies at Casey? Sled hauling, darts, running, movie critic and eating.

New hobbies for home and the future? It might look a bit strange pulling a sled through the streets of Darwin or Canberra.

Buying any large toys on your return home? No toys but I will definitely be enjoying myself.

Holidays planned? I’ll be joining the thousands of tourists that flock to the big city lights of Canberra. Was planning a cycle trip to the Indian Himalaya but that will have to wait for now.

The Red Shed is burning down and you are only have time to save one thing? The coffee machine. There are still a lot of beans in the green store that need drinking.

You are stuck on a deserted island with one person? Easy going, cute, female boat builder. They’re probably as rare as deserted islands.

Which other Antarctic station would you like to visit? Macquarie Island. Would also like to pop into the South Pole station for a hot dog but wouldn’t like to work there.

What are your tastebuds craving most? Doner kebab meat.

One item you wished you brought down? Assorted sport DVDs.

Your favourite hut? Might give it to Robbo’s now. The little gas heater cops a lot of flack but it managed to keep me warm enough on Monday night when the temp dropped to minus 32.4 degrees.

Favourite Antarctic wildlife? Weddell seal considering they’re the only one that bothers to stick around with us during the winter months.

Most important thing you would take on a jolly? Sled.

Favourite summer highlight? Beating Gav in the Antarctic Circle Marathon.

Antarctic highlight? Trying to sleep last week in a tent up on the plateau. It was minus 28 degrees and I had a summer sleeping bag that I couldn’t fit into. While I failed to sleep, it was definitely memorable.

Winter highlight so far? Sled haul trips with notable mentions to Relay For Life and some of the festivities including Race Day, Olympics and Origin (but only game two). That is until I beat Stu from the skiway.

Who would you most like to winter with? My mates Andrew and fellow weather observer Liam would be good value down here.

If your life was a song, which one would it be this week? Walking on Sunshine. Just came back from an awesome six day sled hauling jolly and was treated to plenty of beautiful sunny days.

Favourite day of the year? Melbourne Cup.

How do you have your jalapenos? On a bed of chilli paste, sprinkled with hot chilli powder and Mexican flakes: the ‘Cuatro Caliente'.

What is the first thing you will do when you return to Australia? Go for a nice long walk taking in all the sights, smells and sounds.