Hello to Winter

Rearranging the house

With less than twenty of us on station now, no time has been lost in rearranging the Red Shed to suit the smaller numbers.  With rooms enough for 100 people over summer, those of us remaining have been able to occupy more space and store some of our less frequently used gear in the spare rooms. We have also spread out a bit and now enjoy being able to listen to some music or watch a movie in our rooms without having to choose between headphones and annoying the person or people next door. 

The big post-summer clean-up has taken plenty of effort.  Amazing amounts of unclaimed clothing turned up in the laundry, even more amazing amounts of stuff just seemed to need relocating or putting away and all of a sudden we simply don’t need 50 chairs and nine tables in the mess.  It is also a time of looking through the Green Store to find all those replacement items sent down to us at the beginning of summer that no-one has had the chance to pull out and get into service. 

More than anything, moving the furniture and changing a few rooms has helped to make the station feel like our winter home rather than simply our summer home but with most of our friends missing. Now we can settle in and don’t have to do it all again until the big influx of people in Spring.

Remembering the past

As much as we all love the adventure, the romance and the beauty of Antarctica, the knowledge that it can be a very unforgiving environment is ever present and we were reminded very poignantly of this during the last week. Just across the water on the Clarke Peninsula (visible from our station) is the old Wilkes Station, built in 1957 by the United States and occupied by Australia from 1959 until 1969 when Casey Station was first opened at its original location down near our present wharf area. During Australia’s time at Wilkes, two expeditioners lost their lives and are buried near the station on a hill overlooking the bay. The two men were Hartley Robinson who died in 1959 and Reginald Sullivan who died in 1968. These men are remembered each year on station, part of an important tradition that connects us to our past, reinforces the dangers inherent in the Antarctic and appropriately recognises the sacrifices that these men and others have made so that we could be where we are today.

Two crosses mark the grave sites and the decades since they were placed there have seriously weathered them. During the 2011 winter new crosses were made in Hobart and these were shipped down to Casey Station over summer. This week, the station’s winter carpenter Dan and building services supervisor Jamie, spent some time over at Wilkes removing the existing crosses and placing the new ones at the site. Dan is making special crates to transport the old crosses back to the Antarctic Division in Hobart next summer and eventually to the Robinson and Sullivan families.

It is important for all of us down here to remember the sacrifices that others have made so that we can be here today to enjoy the magnificence of the Antarctic. It has been a privilege for us to make a small contribution to ensuring that Hartley Robinson and Reg Sullivan will not be forgotten. May they rest in peace.


During the winter, fresh food simply can’t be obtained unless we grow it ourselves and so the hydroponics facility on station is a very important to all of us. Over the summer, the Casey hydroponics container was moved from its normal site to the east of the Red Shed to a new location adjacent to the main power house. This was so that the footings could be built for the new east wing extension to the Red Shed. The upshot of that has been that with the decommissioning of the facility, its removal, reconnection of all services etc, we have been without hydroponics for the past 5 or 6 months. With winter now upon us and the little bit of fresh food that arrived on V5 quickly disappearing, there has been a lot of interest in getting things growing as soon as possible. This winter, Bri is head gardener leading the hydroponics team but ably-assisted by many others (including carpenter Dan and electrician Phill who have been finalising the fit out). All are keen to see some fresh food on their plates between now and December when the resupply ship arrives. Seeds have already been sown and we have tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuces, chillies, and a range of herbs all ready to be transferred from their seedling chambers to the main hydroponics tanks.

We expect to transplant our seedlings during the next few days and we are looking forward to a lettuce leaf on our plates in about six weeks and maybe even a fresh tomato in a couple of months. And not only do we get fresh salad vegetables and herbs out of our hydroponics container but the place is warm (with UV light!) and the only place on station that feels and smells and looks green. Will be a shame to eat it really…