At Casey, even blizzards can’t stop Team Dieso. The doc shows off Casey’s commitment to health and fitness and Misty interviews Andy.

On call

What “on-call” can be like for a dieso

Being a dieso looks very easy from the outside due to the relative calm we have at all times. The truth, however, is that it can be quite challenging at times.

Take the early morning of 31st August for example. Cam (the duty dieso) sleeps soundly in his room when he is awoken by the horrid beeping of a pager displaying the dreaded MSB alarm. The time is 3:30am and he is not impressed!

He checks his phone to find the blizz has cranked up to an impressive 93 knots and knows this trip to the power house is not going to be fun. Jeb (the duty sparkie) has also received the page and the two tradies gear up to get their butts kicked by the wind after waking the station leader to let him know they are going outside. After a slight hiccup, they drag each other the 75m to the power house door using the blizz lines to guide through the zero visibility.

Sorting the issue in the powerhouse is easy as always for a dieso and they are soon faced with the return journey. This time it’ll be a head wind! On all fours, hauling themselves along the rope with ice blasting them from the front they reach the safety of the Red Shed cold porch door. Shaking the snow of like a wet puppy, they get out of their goose down jackets and return to bed.

We are always ready to answer the call of the powerhouse, no matter what the weather gods may be throwing at us.

Doctor’s orders

At the beginning of May I took stock of the station health and decided to implement a well being program. Not as scary as medical boot camp but a way to kick start the winter team to use the opportunity of a long few months to look after their physical health and mental well being. 

On the whole, you may think expeditioners will pig out, lard up and get fat, lazy and depressed until it’s time to go home where at that point you shrug your shoulders and say “I ate well” or “it was far too cold outside/way too cozy inside” to do anything more than enjoy another pizza from the plush seat in your personal cinema.

At Casey we changed all that.

All I asked was that as a group they hold back on smoko if possible, find some time to do an exercise DVD or take a gentle walk around the ski loop and check in with me on a monthly basis to be accountable for their own goals. 

Little did I know what I had unleashed. With more type A personalities than at Mount Everest (direct quote from the station chef) diet and exercise fever took serious hold practically as soon as the last ship left. Everyone wanted to take part, do well, better and, okay, outdo each other. In the end, it was the combination of doctor’s orders, the new well being program, a record breaking charity relay and of course the battle to consistently come first in the Walk Antarctica challenge that really upped the ante at Casey. 

And we kept it up. The gyms were full day and night, more and more station exercise classes were offered, 5km challenges turned to 10km and people not previously fit found their gym shoes and their mojo. The guys and gals got fit and lean with gut-busting fat-burning cardio workouts on a daily basis, some waking up at 5am for an early morning fix. Monthly medicals took on a competitive weight loss edge and the day the battery on the scales burned out there was a queue in the surgery. Goals got higher and weights got lower. As the weeks went on, people seemed to find, better, fitter versions of themselves in clothes that were now far too big.

As a consequence, dessert has all but disappeared, smoko and even dinner has become a bit redundant, and carbs are avoided at all costs by some. The bar is empty most nights and even the smoker’s hut has all but been abandoned as one by one the smokers quit in disgust. 

Haggs are rarely used for jollys when it is more cardio-efficient to sled. Indeed the current sledding team (yes we have one!) thinks nothing of doing a 100km foot traverse in record time. Good weather on a Sunday means a 10km run back from the skiway followed by a quick ski around the Nordic trail. 

It has been inspiring to watch and I am so proud of the success of this station. It has been a huge effort by each person, carried by the encouragement of each other that made this incredible change. When we head home, we take the smug success of our fitness and well being with us.

Sheri Newmanm, Casey Station Doctor

Misty’s Mad Minute introducing Andy

NAME: Andy B


OTHER APPOINTMENTS: Librarian, Social Committee, Karaoke Singer

What do you enjoy most about your current job? The chance to work with such a diverse group of great people.

Who inspires you? People who relate honestly.

Why a winter in Antarctica? It is the best time to be here. Summer is fun but winter gives everyone a chance to be themselves. Also the scenery changes daily with snow falls, blizzards, amount of daylight etc.

Any work lined up on your return to Australia? Not at this stage. I’ll think about around March.

What other occupation would you have if not Communications Technician? Chef.

Are you continuing study/ tertiary ed. / services duty? No.

If not at Casey this year, what else would you be doing? Some sort of work in Telecommunications or IT or maybe I’d have bought a yacht and be off sailing somewhere tropical.

Hobbies at Casey? I’ve been trying to get a good Aurora time-lapse. Fired off about 16000 shots but still have not got it yet.

New hobbies for home and the future? None.

Holidays planned? Definitely somewhere hot and beachy and I owe my sister a visit in New Zealand.

Do you think your pets will bite you? No.

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

You are stuck on a deserted island with one person? Firstly, I can’t see that happening by accident so it would have to be planned therefore, someone I love.

Which other Antarctic station would you like to visit? Vostock. That whole lake thing is very interesting.

What are your tastebuds craving most? Avocados, Avocados, Avocados.

Your favourite hut? Wilkes. It’s the warmest hut I’ve ever stayed at and the wood fired pizza can’t be beaten.

Favourite Antarctic wildlife? Penguins. They do some amazing things and you can watch them for hours.

Most important thing you would take on a jolly? Good food, good people and a sense of humour.

Favourite summer highlight? Having a tour of Scott’s Hut at McMurdo on the way to Casey.

Antarctic highlight? Travelling to Hopp Island by helicopter to do some comms work.

Winter highlight so far? Too many to be specific. I’ve loved every minute.

Name three people you would like to invite to the midwinter dinner? Richard Branson and some of his hostey, err, flight attendant friends because he might actually turn up.

How do you have your jalapenos? I’m not such a big fan these days but I used to like them whole.

What is the first thing you will do when you return to Australia? Catch up with my son and the rest of my family, enjoy some fresh food, the sound of rain and leaves rustling.