Casey is wired for science, walking across Antarctica, watching the State of Origin rugby league clash and talking to the very interesting Jamie Lowe in this week’s update.

Wired for science

One of the winter tasks for us electricians was some upgrading and retrofitting of the science building. What we thought would be a quite simple task ended up taking much longer than expected due to access issues. The original modular floor had been covered in continuous linoleum and this made it very difficult to get to the underfloor services. The switchboards also required a great deal of reorganisation in order to achieve what we wanted. But in the end we did it and, from an electrical standpoint, the science building is now in absolutely first class shape and ready for the influx of boffins (and boffinettes) at the beginning of summer.

Some of the tasks that we completed were:

  • Connecting the new −80 freezer and incubators to the alarm system
  • Providing new uninterrupted power supply GPOs
  • Labelling all circuits and ensuring all wiring corresponds to these labels
  • Upgrading the earth leakage circuits breakers and RCDs
  • Cleaning up of the switch boards and general maintenance

Jeb Browne and Phill Marthick, Station Sparkies

The Casey health and fitness spa

Casey Station is a hub of activity over summer. With nearly 200 people passing through during the busy season there is a frenetic mood about the place with a focus on work and social interactions. Lots of sunlight and tight schedules mean that people often work very hard and put in very long hours. The communal living areas are a hive of activity nearly 24 hours a day as the sun is always up and there is always someone to chat to, play ping pong with, or share a movie with when work isn’t otherwise calling. The food is laid on in large quantities and enormous variety, and this is very important as ‘the first layer’ of protection against the cold, but it is very easy to over indulge. Add to all this the intermittent celebrations, a beer after work, a wine with dinner and a quiet whiskey on Saturday night sorting out the station’s (who cares about the rest of the world?) problems and it is easy to see that by the end of a five month summer a person can be in need of a little, in housing terms, renovation.

And so when the Casey wintering crew had their end of summer medicals last month, the news wasn’t all good. Not that we were ailing by any means, but many waists were larger, not all blood pressures were where they used to be and cleaning the gym each Saturday hadn’t been a very onerous task. Our Doc, Sheri, had already forewarned us that her approach to winter was going to be health and well-being promotion, not just waiting around for one of us to get sick or have an accident, so we had a fair idea of what was coming, but for a few of us the reality was harsher than expected.

Sheri is far too nice to say things outright like “you are way too fat” but when you have nasty little measures like BMI, % body fat, and blood pressure, the numbers really speak for themselves. There was no escape for us. And so for many (but certainly not all), we were offered the opportunity to do something about it. Personal health and fitness plans were written and targets set.

As well as reducing intake of things like coffee and alcohol (the rations would make you weep), we had to cut down on a range of other things like meals (apparently four a day is too much), desserts (can you believe that dessert every night isn’t desirable?) and treats (I thought that as long as we didn’t run out we could eat as much chocolate as we wanted). But not even this was enough to satisfy Doc Sheri. She was also expecting us to exercise!

Now, exercise didn’t pose too much of a problem for some of the folks here. Stuart is an international level endurance athlete. Craig and Gavin both ran the Antarctic Circle marathon here a couple of months ago and some of the guys do spend a fair bit of time in the gym. But for many of us the summer had meant a gradual retreat into sedentary behaviour and the whole exercise thing was a little confronting.

But timing is everything and the Centenary Walk around Antarctica was due to start a week after our medicals. For those of you who don’t know, the Centenary Walk is organised by the AAD to promote getting active and healthy. In teams of six people log their steps each day using a pedometer and by computing step equivalents of all sorts of other exercise. The aim is to accrue enough steps as a team to travel the 7849km route around the continent within the 100 days, an average of about 16300 steps per person per day. The aim is definitely not to compete with each other or to get there first (sure). Being a reasonably competitive group of people the Centenary Walk provided us with a focus towards which we could direct our health and well-being program.

There are nineteen of us here and we quickly organised ourselves into three teams with one reserve and set about putting together various exercise opportunities based on the varied experiences within the group. So in short order our working weeks tarted looking like this: at 5.15 in the afternoon (before dinner) we scheduled yoga on Monday nights, Zumba on Tuesdays, Tae Bo on Wednesdays and circuit training on Thursdays. The Cardio Room and the Green Store Gym have both been occupied most waking hours and people spent more and more time out on the ski loop, using the rock climbing wall or just walking around the place, clocking up steps. Most people on station have been spending two to three hours in one of the gyms every day for the last month or so. It is a little confronting to go to the effort of getting out of bed at 6:00am and getting to the cardio room only to find that all three bikes, the rowing machine and the treadmill already have someone on them.

Of course our Relay for Life, regular running/skiing from the ski landing area back to station and sled hauling to huts instead of taking Haggs or quads have all been a feature of the winter so far as well.

And two months down the track, heading into a big long weekend of midwinter celebrations, what have we achieved? Well, whilst the Centenary Walk is definitely not a competition, out of the 58 teams entered, Casey Teams The New Age Huskies (Craig, Stu, Gav, Dan, Sheri & Mark H) and Team Dieso (Mike, Jason, Cam, Misty, Jon & Jeb)both completed the walk early in the week, in under 50 days and averaging about 35,000 steps per-person, per-day, the first teams to reach the finish at Commonwealth Bay. The third Casey team, Snowblind from the Start (Dave, Andy, Bri, Mark G, Phill & Jamie) is still moving around the course at a very respectable pace in the forward half of the field. The evening fitness classes have become so popular we have really had to think about how best to run them because of space limitations (nine people at the circuit class this week), people are wearing clothes they haven’t been able to fit into since they arrived and everyone just seems more upbeat and energetic. And apparently all of our health stats are looking much better too. Sheri is very pleased with us.

Now we just have to make sure we don’t blow it over midwinter…

Mark Hunt — Station Leader and New Age Husky member

State of Origin version 1

As told from the Queensland (QLD) perspective.

Whilst this is of course an unbiased, factual opinion it is not necessarily shared by all NSW supporters.

Often dubbed “mate against mate” “state against state”, STATE OF ORIGIN is arguably one of the toughest contact sports of today. It is frequently cited as being the highest level of rugby league played anywhere in the world.

First played in 1980, and won by QLD I must add, up until this current series the slightest mention of State of Origin reduces the truest of supporters from New South Wales and Queensland to out and out verbal war.

Cane Toad versus Cockroach…..

Competing for the ultimate prize in rugby league, the State of Origin shield and bragging rights for the next year, the figures speak for themselves.

Most overall wins: Played 94: Queensland 50

Series Wins: Queensland 20 NSW 12

Most origin appearances: Darren Lockyer QLD

Most origin points: Mal Meninga QLD

Most origin tries: Greg Inglis QLD

Most consecutive series wins: QLD

Do we need to say more?

This year at Casey has been no exception. The true at heart have come out firing. QLD supporters have had very little to worry about given QLD have dominated the game and won the last six series, 2006–2011, and are poised to take home a seventh.

There has been no lack of support from back home either, with a plethora of supportive emails and pictures sent rallying behind the mighty Maroons.

Such is the lure of the game it has even swept up the odd AFL fan here on station in the excitement. The odd bit of banter, the odd poster (predominately offending all NSW supporters) have found their way up around station and even the odd sign has sprung up out of nowhere in an effort to let all know who is the superior team.

It’s very true what they say. “No one is perfect, but coming from Queensland is as close as it gets”.

Year after year, it’s the same old comments coming from the Blues supporters. “Next year you just wait and see”. Or “The bloody refs” but when it’s all said and done the proof is in the pudding, as they say.

The results of the previous two games this year have finished one a piece. QLD won the first and NSW the second. This has set the final game up to be a nail biter. More signs are frantically being painted, fans are becoming a little rowdy with anticipation, battle lines have been drawn and the bantering is about to move into over-drive.

With the QLD side made up predominately of Australian representatives (12 of the 17 says a lot for the other team) QLD’ers can take some comfort knowing a few things. Statistics are in our favour. History is in our favour. But most of all it’s not just a sport to a Queenslander, it’s a passion, a life and rest assured the entire state will stop to watch and get behind that mighty Maroon team to bring home the shield for yet another year and in fact be the 7th in a row.

C’MON QUEENSLAND! Crush them Cockroaches!

Jason Blackwell, PI, SAR Leader and quiet, reserved QUEENSLANDER

State of Origin version 2

As told from an equally factual and unbiased NSW persective.

Normally here at Casey we all get along quite well. But recently battle lines have been drawn and a fierce rivalry has emerged on Wednesday nights. Yes, it’s that time of year. State of Origin! The build up to the first game was huge with plenty of trash talk coming from the Queenslanders, confident after one or two victories in recent years. The NSW faithful fought back though ensuring that all viewers were pumped up for game one. Unfortunately for Blues supporters, their domination of the game all across the park was not reflected where it counts, on the scoreboard. Everyone was left totally bemused when Greg Inglis was awarded a match turning try despite clearly knocking the ball on. Even the Queenslanders on station were shaking their heads in disbelief at the decision.

This week we were entertained by one of the greatest origin games in history. The Queenslanders on station had been noticeably quieter in the buildup, clearly nervous after getting out of jail in the first game. Blues fans stepped it up a notch with some impressive decorations. From the kickoff, Blues front-rower Grant sent his mentor Civoniceva flying and set the scene for a torrid battle. With their forward pack leading the way the Blues dominated the first half, however yet again they were behind where it counted on the scoreboard making all Blues fans a little worried.

The second half was a feast of top notch rugby league. NSW were desperately unlucky not to be awarded a penalty try in the early stages, but the sin binning of Cronk did lead to two epic Blues tries. One involved the Hayne plane at his very best, taking off and ripping through the Maroons’ defence to set up a great try. Despite the Maroons’ typical late charge they were not getting out of this one and Blues fans rose as one as the full-time siren sounded and victory was ours. Unlike the Queenslanders three weeks before, the Blues fans on station remained humble in victory. It sets up a tantalising decider in three weeks time. Whilst the crowd at Casey will be small, they will be very, very loud.

Craig George — Met Observer, Manager of Casey Gym & unbiased NSW supporter

Misty’s Mad Minute, introducing Jamie

Name:  Jamie Lowe

Nickname:  Jaylow.

Role on station:  Wintering Building Services Supervisor(BSS)/Plumber.

Other appointments:  Electoral officer/Music manager

Who inspires you?  People who look for positives in any situation.

What is the one thing you enjoy most about your current job?  Every day is something new, or there’s a different challenge added to any normal jobs.

Why Antarctica?  Because it was there.

Do you have a home to go back to?  Possibly.

Do you think your pets will bite you?  Most definitely. Ian, (my dog) is apparently quite mad at me for being away so long.

Any work lined up on your return to Australia?  FIFO is tempting?

What other occupation would you have if not a BSS?  If i had a choice? Marine Archaeologist.

Are you continuing study/ tertiary ed. / services duty?  I think they would keep asking me if I was the teacher at my age! But I would love to do a degree in engineering.

If not at Casey this year, what else would you be doing?  Gold prospecting in Victoria.

Hobbies at Casey?  Woodwork at some stage and some goodies on the lathe is the plan.

New hobbies for home and the future?  Prospecting underwater, get back into flying, maybe rotary wing this time?

Buying any large toys on your return home?  Block of land?

Holidays planned? I’d say so, most likely the US. Still want to see New Orleans and New York.I'd say so, most likely the US. Still want to see New Orleans and New York.

The Red Shed is burning down and you only have time to save one thing? My iPod.

You are stuck on a deserted island with one person?  Anyone except Osama Bin Laden. Took the world 10 years to find him.

Which other Antarctic station would you like to visit?  Would love to get to the South pole, and Mawson’s Hut. That would be amazing.

What are your taste buds craving most?  Fresh tomatoes. Won’t be long!

Your favourite hut?  Wilkes, if only the walls could talk, incredible history.

Favourite Antarctic wildlife?  Summer scientists, emperor penguins.

Most important thing you would take on a jolly?  My GPS. I get lost in the shower.

Favourite summer highlight?  The BBQ on the Aurora Australis as we approached Casey in the sea ice.

Antarctic highlight?  Walking amongst the elephant seals with the scientists at Browning.

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

Name 3 people you would like to invite to the midwinter dinner.  Leonardo DaVinci, Buddy Rich and Leonard Cohen. You did say “like” to invite?

If your life was a song, which one would it be this week? Strange Brew by Cream.

Favourite day of the year?  Christmas Day. Catching up with family.

Favourite place in the world?  On a boat, anywhere.

How do you have your jalapenos?  Filthy things. Should be illegal.

If Comms could download one Olympic event for us to watch this year, any requests?  Coarse fishing? A close friend and 70 year old British sax player is the captain of the Australian coarse fishing team. Kid you not.

What is the first thing you will do when you return to Australia?  Vote, even if there isn’t an election.