The beauty and importance surrounding sea ice drilling at Casey station, hydroponics, social fun with a trivia night and an interview with Evil.

Sea ice drilling

Each season before sea ice travel can occur, we are given the task of drilling the ice for thickness at designated points in the bays around Casey, extending right down to Browning Peninsular. After the recent low temperatures and calm weather we had a good idea that the ice had thickened to a reasonable level for safe travel. So we thought we had better check it out.

SAR Leader Jason (PI, beautiful smiling man) and first responder Cam (dieso, me) confirmed this by picking a nice calm and cool day (-28 degrees) using the ice drill and measuring ice thickness to be up to 1100mm in some areas with it averaging out at about 600-700mm at most of the GPS waypoints. This is more than enough for foot and quad travel.

Although the sea ice travel has been opened for the season, it is also extremely important for us to remain vigilant with our testing and drilling as it is forever changing with large temperature variations (-32 to 0 degrees on Tuesday), underwater currents,  large tide variations (which open up tide cracks) and hurricane force blizzards(140+km/hr on Thursday) that could see the sea ice disappear overnight.

I’m sure the drilling will be kept to a high standard as no one here wants to end up in the extremely cold water!

All in all, a good day, and sea ice travel for the season is now OPEN!

Cam, Team Dieso

It’s a jungle in there!

After shutting down last December so it could be relocated, our hydroponics facility was finally in place, wired and plumbed up, and scrubbed clean by early April. Straight after the ship left, the first batch of seedlings were planted, the last of the leaky pipes were fixed and the planting bins were filled with growing medium (Icy News 20 April). It was great to see so many people pitch in and help with the set up and cleaning. Since planting, we’ve started running a roster to look after the daily tasks in Hydro (hydroponics facility) such as maintaining the water chemistry, pollinating and harvesting.  Enthusiasm for fresh veggies must be high, as about half the station volunteered for the roster.

Our initial planting was heavily biased towards salad vegetables (lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers), with a few herbs and some zucchini (as it is fast growing and we were impatient and hungry for fresh green vegetables). Since then we’ve also added some chillies and squash, and a few more herbs.  If we can bring ourselves to remove some more mature plants, we’ll add capsicums to the mix, but it’s proving rather difficult to remove plants that we’ve watched grow from seed. Sometimes it seems more like the plants are our children or pets, except, of course, that we plan to eat them. Luckily Mark H. doesn’t show so much sentiment when in Hydro, and has therefore been put in charge of pruning the cucumbers, squash and zucchini. Despite it often looking like a massacre scene after his pruning efforts (zucchini plants only need one leaf, don’t they?), it always turns out that his form of tough love is just what the plants needed. And at least he doesn’t prune so viciously as Craig. Leave the branches with the fruit on them Craig!

Over the last two months it’s been a delight to watch the plants grow.  A break of only two or three days away from Hydro sees dramatic changes, with new flowers and fruit appearing, or the cucumber plants almost succeeding in their goal to take over their container. For the last month we’ve been eating fresh lettuce nearly every lunchtime, and Gav (our chef) has had more basil and coriander than he can keep up with. The first zucchinis were harvested about a fortnight ago and the first cucumbers just yesterday. Dragging the chain a little are the ones that everyone is hanging out for: the tomatoes.  After seeing the first fruit on our Cherry, Roma and Marmande tomato plants several weeks ago, we had been hoping to have the first tomatoes ready by midwinter, but they are ripening agonisingly slowly.  I’m sure they will be worth the wait!

Bri, Met Forecaster

Trivia night

On Friday night Casey Station had a little rest from all of the recent physical activity and set their minds to work at our very own trivia night.  Master of Ceremonies Mark G., ably assisted by his Scottish sidekick Stu, spent much of the previous two weeks carefully crafting some very tricky questions. Questions were provided in six rounds and included general knowledge, Australiana, music and sports categories.  The rest of the expeditioners organised themselves into groups of two to four and teams included the PlumBobs (plumbers Jamie and Rob, with honourary plumber for the night, doc Sheri), It’s Academic (intellectual wannabes Mark H. and Jeb), the K-Team (Andy, Jason and Dan), Any Takers (Gav, Dave and Jon) and The Leftovers (Craig, Bri, Phill and Cam) who hadn’t got their act together to form a group prior to the evening starting. In her defence, Bri was working for much of the night.

The K-Team and Any Takers were very strong out of the first two rounds which were general knowledge based and very little separated all of the teams.  Unfortunately the two leading teams fell away in the third round when MarK G. had a break from being compere and Stu stepped in. A significant debate erupted during the half time interval about the extent to which Stu’s pronunciation affected scoring, whether there should be double points awarded for answering a question correctly when Stu asked it, and even a suggestion that a point could be awarded for simply identifying a question being asked amongst Stu’s general ramblings about Mancunians, malt whiskey and Gaelic football. Mark G. however soon returned and settled the situation down by referring to a ruling in another trivia night at another Antarctic station in 1963 and further reminded us that the quiz adjudicators (Mark and Stu) were running the show and had the final say.

Coming out of the third round, It’s Academic hit the lead and surged ahead in the fourth round.  But the penultimate round of questions, focused on music, was the opportunity that The Leftovers had been waiting for and they unleashed their secret weapon: Phill.  Phill managed to identify all three questions where songs had to be identified by their first two bars and all four questions where songs had to identified by four lines of verse lyrics.  He also answered all of the other music questions. It was a stupendous effort that put The Leftovers up on equal footing with It’s Academic for the start of the final round. 

At this point, It’s Academic may have made a tactical blunder by deciding to open another bottle of red. Whatever the case The Leftovers, full of confidence, surged ahead and had a sensational final general knowledge round to win the evening by a significant margin. There was much cheering (which woke Gavin up), some searching questions about cheating and Jason continued to argue with Mark G. about in which movie Arnold Schwarzenegger first used the line “Hasta la vista, baby” (apparently it was NOT Commando*).  Meanwhile The Leftovers team captain Craig was presented with the prizes which included two of his favourite things: food and drink.

All in all we had a great evening where most of us were reminded just how little we really know and all of us enjoyed ourselves. 

Thanks heaps to Mark G and Stu for organising it all.

*Ed. note: It was Terminator 2: Judgement Day.

Misty’s Mad Minute introducing Mike

NAME:  Mike Kennard


ROLE ON STATION:  Wintering Dieso

OTHER APPOINTMENTS:  Hairdresser & Flag Officer

Who inspires you?  Anyone that gives it their best shot.

What is the one thing you enjoy most about your current job?  Having to think outside the box to get something going.

Why Antarctica?  Why not!  Look at any picture you can find of this place, then times it by ten.  That’s how awesome it is.

Do you have a home to go back to?  I have a choice of two.

Do you think your pets will bite you?  More than likely, since they weren’t around when I left.

Any work lined up on your return to Australia?  Hope not.

What other occupation would you have if not a Dieso?  Part time fisherman.

Are you continuing study/ tertiary ed. / services duty?  Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha.  Couldn’t think of anything worse than going back to school.

If not at Casey this year, what else would you be doing?  Probably driving a concrete truck on the Gold Coast.

Hobbies at Casey?  RC Rock Crawler.  Lots of riding.

New hobbies for home and the future?  Boat fabrication, I want to put a jet in a tinnie.

Buying any large toys on your return home?  New boat and a new ute.

Holidays planned? Hell yeah.  Can’t say where or my girlfriend might see it.

The Red Shed is burning down and you only have time to save one thing?  Hard drive. It has all my pics on it.

You are stuck on a deserted island with one person?  Hopefully not Cam. He smells.

Which other Antarctic station would you like to visit?  Would like to have a look at Macca but I don’t think I could live there.

What are your taste buds craving most?  A massive green apple.

Your favourite hut?  Browning, just because of where it is.

Favourite Antarctic wildlife?  Snow petrels.

Most important thing you would take on a jolly?  2 Min Noodles.

Favourite summer highlight?  Watching the back end of the Aurora Australis steam out of the harbour.

Antarctic highlight?  Silence. Deafening silence.

Winter highlight so far?  The aurora on 22/5.

Name 3 people you would like to invite to the midwinter dinner.  Mum, Dad, Vanessa (girlfriend).

If your life was a song, which one would it be this week?  ‘Don’t Fight It’ by The Panics.

Favourite day of the year?  Australia Day.

Favourite place in the world?  Too many to list.

How do you have your jalapenos?  On EVERYTHING!

If Comms could download one Olympic event for us to watch this year, any requests?  Women’s Beach Volleyball. Women's Beach Volleyball.

What is the first thing you will do when you return to Australia?  Get fresh sushi and a Red Bull.