This week from Casey: a plumber’s tale, brilliant Antarctic Food Festival entries and an interview with Cam.

A plumber’s tale

Everyday goings on in the ‘tankhouse'!

After breakfast, one of us (whoever is on call for the week) heads off to the ‘tankhouse’ where we collect and store all the freshwater for the station’s drinking water and fire systems.

The water we collect is as good as it gets: pure melted snow, pumped from our melt-lake behind the station. However, it doesn’t give in easily with temperatures outside averaging about minus 21°C this time of year, water turns to ice very quickly and is not so easy to pump!

This is where our little helper called “the melt bell” comes into play. This little guy was the invention of some clever polar plumbers some years ago and without it, we would have some problems keeping up the water supply to the station. It is submerged in the ice in the lake and is a hollow vessel that we pump heated water through at about 60°C. The bell heats the surrounding water (just above zero) and this then allows us to draw a small amount off each day as required.

As we collect the majority of our water over the summer, there is often plenty of water in the lake that is not frozen so this is when we fill up our main reserves for winter and our fire fighting water storage tanks.

The fire fighting system is located and maintained with our drinking water as the ‘tankhouse’ is a heated building so the water is always available if required.

We have two separate fire fighting systems: one is the electric pumps that are started manually if required in the event of a fire. These charge the water mains with a higher pressure needed for the hoses and hydrants around the station.

As a backup, we have a diesel powered pump that we can start if the power to the site is down.

Once the water storages are topped up, the plumbers also look after the spa, test the water, check the filtration systems and top up if required. It’s a popular place to thaw out after a day in the great outdoors here!

Plumbing other stuff

Once the daily tasks are completed, we then head back to the plant rooms in the various buildings where we continue with our yearly maintenance programs, servicing of plant and air conditioning systems, throughout the station. We also work on upgrades to installed plant and modifications if required. 

Jamie Lowe, Building Services Supervisor and Plumber

Antarctic Food Festival

Last Saturday, Casey joined the other stations around the icy continent in being part of the Antarctic Food Festival. This is an event that is the brainchild of the chef from the German base, Neumayer III.

The rules are simple. Each station is required to nominate a single ingredient, get as many people involved and make a dish, a meal, or even just something edible. But most of all, the point is to have some fun in the kitchen.  This year, ten stations participated and nominated an ingredient. Casey’s ingredient was olives. South Pole station chose hickory chips, an item they thought maybe others would not have. And we certainly didn’t have any in our station provisions. Fortunately, I just happened to have some with me in my personal chef supplies.

After a quick team brainstorm, with ideas being thrown around as if they were out of the latest edition of Delicious Magazine, a plan was hatched.

Jeb (electrician) smoked beef fillet like a pro, while Bri (summer forecaster/winter observer) whipped together an amazing carrot, pecan and ginger pudding. As I stood back and watched Jon (aerodrome plant operator) weave some magic in the pastry section and Jamie (building services supervisor) made poached salmon in pickled ginger, I knew the station was in good hands if ever another chef was needed at short notice. Craig (senior weather observer) who was the slushy (kitchen hand) of the day even managed to keep pace under the pressure.

A couple of hours later, without even the slightest inkling of a Gordon Ramsay meltdown occurring, and just in time for dinner, the rest of the station joined us for an amazing meal.

Bon Appetit!

Gav, Casey Chef

Misty’s Mad Minute introducing Cameron

NAME:  Cam Dempsey



OTHER APPOINTMENTS: 1st Responder SAR Team, BA1 Fire Team, Amenities Officer, Teaching the Station Leader how to play Table Tennis & Darts.

Describe yourself in 3 words.  Honest, Dependable, Trustworthy.

Who inspires you?  No one in particular.

Why Antarctica?  I wanted to know more about the “unknown” and to see the amazing wildlife and scenery this continent has to offer.

What did you give up to come to Antarctica?  Too much!

Do you have a home to go back to?  Yes, Clermont, Central QLD.

Do you think your pets will bite you?  I’m hoping not. I have a rottweiler (Frank) so it could be painful if he does.

Any work lined up on your return to Australia?  No.

What other occupation would you have if not a dieso?  Olympic Table Tennis Team.

Are you continuing study/ tertiary ed. / services duty?  Ummm NO!

If not at Casey this year, what else would you be doing?  Working in mining, a lot of shooting, camping.

Hobbies at Casey?  Table tennis, darts, photography, gym.

New hobbies for home and the future?  Rock climbing, photography.

Buying any large toys on your return home?  Already purchased one, more are possible.

Holidays planned?  May go to Bali for a few months and visit my sister who lives in Paris.

The Red Shed is burning down and you are only have time to save one thing?  Fort Knox.

You are stuck on a deserted island with one person?  Kate Beckinsale.

Which other Antarctic station would you like to visit? Amundsen-Scott Base, ‘South Pole’.

What are your tastebuds craving most?  Fresh fruit.

One item you wished you brought down?  A decent telescope would have been pretty cool.

Your favourite hut?  Pizza Hut.

Favourite Antarctic wildlife?  Emperor penguin.

Favourite summer highlight?  The summerers leaving, “except for some”.

Antarctic highlight?  Trip down on the Aurora Australis and berg cruises.

Winter highlight so far?  Seeing auroras for the first time.

Name three people you would like to invite to the midwinter dinner?  I would like to invite many people to the dinner, but I think you have to earn your seat at the table.

Name one person you most like to winter with?  I think Tim “Big Daddy” James would provide a lot of entertainment.

If your life was a song, which one would it be this week?  Incubus, Wish You Were Here.

Favourite place in the world?  North Stradbroke Island or Port Douglas.

How do you have your jalapenos?  Anyway, stacked high & hot.

If Comms could download one Olympic event for us to watch this year, any request?  Men’s 100m sprint final, maybe some women’s synchronized swimming and gymnastics too (it’s a long winter).

What is the first thing you will do when you return to Australia?  Get to the airport and head home.