This week at Casey we take a photographic tour of the sights of Wilkins, hear an update from field training and we are left with some closing quotes from the exiting winter station leader.

Field training underway

This year the field training officers at Casey station are Mick (Senior Senior or the Wizard), Billy and myself (James.) Unfortunately Mick feels like he is the only Field Training Officer (FTO) waving the Australian flag and feels outnumbered by us South Islanders, which is kind of true. So Billy and myself are nurturing him through to voyage three, when another Australian FTO (Tim) who will replace our Senior Senior FTO will eventually feel the same sort of love the Mick has grown to know so well!

It was a nice feeling at the start of the summer season to get to Casey station in one day from Hobart via McMurdo; even though there were new expeditioners and Joe who wished they could have a little stay over so they could have a look around.

After landing at Casey ski landing area I was amazed at how little snow there is and how much blue ice there is exposed. It must have either been a dry winter or very windy!

Once all had settled in on station we had a good storm which is always good for those new to the icy continent to experience. I got the six new aviation lads to experience the storm by navigating 500m off station, so they get to feel the power of Mother Nature and where it all can go wrong quite easily if they don’t follow the right procedures. Once we got back to station I had Steve demonstrate how to get into a bivvy in 50knots winds. Well done Steve, nine out of ten!

The storm had cleared and off into the field we go, first off the block is the aviation lads, keen as! Four days of survival, field travel on quads and Hägglunds driver training. There were some tired lads by the end of the four days.

While the aviation lads were in the thick of their training, Mick and Billy were out training all our new and old expeditioners as well as the Aurora Basin traverse team in survival and safe field travel.

I am amazed at how little sea ice there is and how fast it has disappeared, also how warm the temperatures are for this time of the season.

This year we have a recreation programme over the weekend which the FTO’s will guide trips, like skiing to Wilkes, guided quad trips, ice climbing, polar camping etc. This will make sure over the busy summer that people can get off station and see the sights during their down time.

Not long now until we get on the water with the boats.

As I type we are expecting the first A319 flight of the season from Hobart with a new wave of fresh faces to train.

Quotes of the year

During 2013 I had the privilege of delivering a weekly Situation Report (aka Sitrep) from Casey and I took the opportunity to append a quotation to them. I did this to make the otherwise dry material a little more digestible but also with the hope for everyone who reads these that my little add-on quotes made the world a little better, if only for a moment.

I enjoyed doing this and these are a few of my favourites amongst some fifty I sent out.


“Why were you lurking under our window?”
"Yes - yes, good point, Petunia! What were you doing under our windows, boy?"
"Listening to the news," said Harry in a resigned voice.
His aunt and uncle exchanged looks of outrage.
"Listening to the news! Again?"
"Well, it changes every day, you see," said Harry.”

JK Rowling — Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

For your philosophical enjoyment this week I draw your attention to Friedrich Nietzsche who purported that “there are no facts, only interpretations” …please enjoy this week’s interpretation from Casey.

Nietzsche could however be mistaken — he also said “without music life would be a mistake”… so how does that account for Slim Dusty?

“In the morning we went up to the village and bought a wire rat-trap and fetched it down, and unstopped the best rat-hole, and in about an hour we had fifteen of the bulliest kind of ones; and then we took it and put it in a safe place under Aunt Sally’s bed. But while we was gone for spiders little Thomas Franklin Benjamin Jefferson Elexander Phelps found it there, and opened the door of it to see if the rats would come out, and they did; and Aunt Sally she come in, and when we got back she was a-standing on top of the bed raising Cain, and the rats was doing what they could to keep off the dull times for her.”

Mark Twain — The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Jenny Curran: Hey, Forrest, were you scared in Vietnam?
Forrest Gump: Yes. Well, I-I don’t know. Sometimes it would stop raining long enough for the stars to come out. And then it was nice. It was like just before the sun goes to bed down on the bayou. There was over a million sparkles on the water. Like that mountain lake. It was so clear, Jenny. It looked like there were two skies, one on top of the other. And then in the desert, when the sun comes up, I couldn’t tell where heaven stopped and the earth began. It was so beautiful.
Jenny Curran: I wish I could've been there with you.
Forrest Gump: You were.

From the movie Forest Gump

“He had heard about talking to plants in the early seventies, on Radio Four, and thought it was an excellent idea. Although talking is perhaps the wrong word for what Crowley did. What he did was put the fear of God into them. More precisely, the fear of Crowley.

In addition to which, every couple of months Crowley would pick out a plant that was growing too slowly, or succumbing to leaf-wilt or browning, or just didn’t look quite as good as the others, and he would carry it around to all the other plants. “Say goodbye to your friend,” he’d say to them. “He just couldn’t cut it… ”
Then he would leave the flat with the offending plant, and return an hour or so later with a large, empty flower pot, which he would leave somewhere conspicuously around the flat.

The plants were the most luxurious, verdant, and beautiful in London. Also the most terrified.”

Neil Gaiman — Good Omens

Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. “Pooh?” he whispered.
"Yes, Piglet?"
"Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh's hand. "I just wanted to be sure of you.”

A.A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh

As I was preparing this week’s Sitrep yesterday I received news of the arrival of a granddaughter and got to wondering what piece of pithy wisdom I could pass along this week and decided I like this one.

“Listen to the mustn'ts, child. Listen to the don'ts. Listen to the shouldn'ts, the impossibles, the won'ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.”

Shel Silverstein

Ralph Waldo Emerson defined success in a simple life, well lived as:
“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and affection of children; to learn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a little bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.”

…and a final word, looking forward to the next year:

“May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you're wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art — write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.” Neil Gaiman

Wilkins aerodrome final preparations

This week we take a photographic tour of the Wilkins aerodrome, after some final preparations in anticipation of the upcoming first A319 flight direct from Hobart.