A fuel transfer that’s anything but dull, a dose of Scottish culture and an interview with Jeremy Browne are your stories from Casey this week.

Midwinter Fuel Transfer

As part of every new season Casey station is resupplied with approximately one million litres of SAB (Special Antarctic Blend Diesel). Unfortunately there are two fuel farms here at Casey meaning that there is a requirement to transfer half of that fuel around June/July from the lower fuel farm to the upper in order to keep the station operational.

This year it was decided that the transfer would be completed in early July. After initial planning and some speculation about the weather it commenced on Monday the 2nd of July at 0800.

Team Dieso, consisting of Cam, Mike, Misty, Jon and Jason, had spent a number of days preparing and inspecting equipment in readiness for the transfer. This meant digging out the lower farm to access the pump (a task that unfortunately was seen as an annoyance, where as one month ago we would have all been extremely keen, given we have completed the lap around Antarctica in the walking exercise, snow shovelling now had the feeling it was for free). Misty groomed a perfect road through Thala Valley to lay the fuel line out, Jon set up the lighting for the arduous trek up and down the hose inspecting for fuel leaks and the line was pressure tested before pumping.

It was decided that this year the operation would be completed around the clock. (Timings were essential as there was the need to consider the third State of Origin match on the Wednesday night, something that we did not want to miss.) Working a 2hr on 4hr off shift, the entire station was put on notice. The roster was made up allowing the first 4 hrs for the set up to be completed.

With no faults noted, the set up was finished and the official pumping of fuel commenced at 12:45pm.

The operation was in full swing, with all seemingly going well. Changeover of personnel in the −17 to −20 degree temps was efficient, fuel was flowing and many conversations were had during the cold night. Many encouraging signs were crafted into the snow for the oncoming shift, notably about the upcoming NSW v. QLD Origin match (thanks Misty).

By early morning things were going very well and we were well ahead of what was considered our planned schedule. (Origin was looking safe). With the flow rate of the fuel consistent, the fuel was re-routed out to the station filling the MPH (main power house) and the vehicle bowser before being redirected back to the upper farm.

At approximately 0910 the pump was shut down and the transferring of fuel complete. We were well ahead of schedule and this was certainly a surprising outcome. All personnel were knocked off to go and have a hot breakfast and catch up on sleep, with the exception of Team Dieso who packed up and officially completed the transfer. We were sitting in the mess and having a well earned coffee at 11:00am on Tuesday. Overall it was a very smooth operation. There were no fuel spills and it was completed in extremely good time, only 27 hours. Well done to all.    

Jason Blackwell, Plant Inspector/Mechanical Services Supervisor

The Casey Single Malt Whisky Appreciation Evening

One of the great things about being on station is how people all have expertise about different things and are generally very happy to share their knowledge (sometimes after a bit of prodding). This year at Casey, one of the wintering team is a Scotsman, Stuart Gibson, and as part of our midwinter celebrations a week or so ago, Stuart agreed to put together a single malt whisky appreciation evening for us. This is something that Stuart should be good at. Not only is he a Scotsman but he grew up within 3km of the Talisker distillery on the Isle of Skye.

The first challenge was to find some single malt whisky and preferably a range of whiskies that reflected the key distilling regions in Scotland. The call went out across the station and Stuart identified five whiskies of what he deemed suitable quality, and of sufficiently broad distribution and variety. These were a Dalmore (Northern Highlands), Dalwhinney (Central Highlands), Laphroig and Lagavulin (both Islay malts) and a bottle of Talisker (an island malt from the Isle of Skye). Unfortunately there were no lowland malts on station. We also turned up some Glenfiddich (Speyside) and Glenmorangie (a second Northern Highlands malt) for comparison if needed as well as a high quality blend (a 21 year old Chivas) and a bottle of something really nasty just to emphasise the difference in quality (won’t mention what it was in case we offend someone). To cap it all off Mark G found a bottle of Hobart’s own Lark Distillery single malt to provide a real contrast with the Scottish produce.

To start the evening, Stuart gave us a PowerPoint presentation covering the history of whisky and the distillation and aging process. He then took us on a virtual tour around Scotland, explaining the differences in geography, process and whisky characteristics of the key regions and some sample distilleries. After this, we watched a movie about how to taste whisky, what attributes to look for and how to describe a whisky to someone else. Then we got down to the serious business of actually trying some. We had maps and tasting wheels as well as cheat sheets to help us describe what we were tasting. Some people seemed to have the language of whisky tasting well under control ('leathery, smoky, kippery') whereas others used more colourful language ('like drinking medicine through an ashtray').

About half the station participated in the night and learned all manner of things about whisky that we probably didn’t really need to know. But we had a lot of fun (in moderation of course) and everyone appreciated all the effort that Stuart put into pulling the evening together.

And by the way, my favourite was the Talisker.

Mark (SL)

Misty’s Mad Minute introducing Jeremy Browne

Name: Jeremy Browne

Nickname: Jeb

Role on station: Electrician

Other appointments: Brewmaster, Fire & SAR Teams

Who inspires you? My father.

What is the 1 thing you enjoy most about your current job? The diversity of work & locations.

Why Antarctica? Both my father and sister tried to get down here and never succeeded. After the passing of both of them I said I’m going.

What did you give up to come to Antarctica? Full time job in the mines.

Do you have a home to go back to? Yes

Do you think your pets will bite you? No. Blu, my dog, might stop barking every night.

Any work lined up on your return to Australia? No

What other occupation would you have if not a sparky? Dive Master or Skipper on a tourist boat.

Are you continuing study/ tertiary ed. / services duty? Thinking about electrical engineering degree.

If not at Casey this year, what else would you be doing? Travelling Australia.

Hobbies at Casey? Brewing and making a suit of armour.

New hobbies for home and the future? To finally get my Dodge ute on the road.

Buying any large toys on your return home? New Hemi motor for the Dodge.

Holidays planned? I’m thinking Fiji or PNG diving.

The Red Shed is burning down and you are only have time to save 1 thing? The brewery.

You are stuck on a deserted island with one person? Les Higgins.

Which other Antarctic station would you like to visit? Commonwealth Bay.

What are your taste buds craving most? Fresh mangoes & tomatoes.

Your favourite hut? Browning

Favourite Antarctic wildlife? Leopard seals.

Most important thing you would take on a jolly? Camera.

Favourite summer highlight? Trip down.

Antarctic highlight? Leopard seals hunting Adélie penguins and destroying them.

Winter highlight so far? Midwinter celebrations.

Name three people you would like to invite to the midwinter dinner? Sarah (GF), Mark (brother), Daniel (best mate).

Name one person you most like to winter with? Rob.

If your life was a song, which one would it be this week? Friends in Low Places.

Favourite day of the year? Australia Day.

Favourite place in the world? Prague.

How do you have your jalapenos? On everything.

If Comms could download one Olympic event for us to watch this year, any request? Hockey.

What is the first thing you will do when you return to Australia? Get some sun.