Another look back at the busy week of resupply, Casey gets the long awaited visit from the north and it’s time to play “Survivor — Antarctica” for some of the newcomers.

Hanging Out at the Beach

I was excited to get the news a few months back that I was successful in applying for my third season as station carpenter, and what will be my first winter. So after a great few weeks in beautiful Hobart I stepped foot onto the famous Aurora Australia to make passage for Casey station.

I was asked to take on the beach master role by station leader Allan Cooney once we had arrived on station, which was an opportunity that was too good to be passed up. After waking up to the calm of Newcomb Bay on Boxing Day aboard the Aurora Australia, it was time to disembark and get serious about unloading the big girl so we could turn her around to meet the rest of the demands for resupplying Davis, Mawson and Macquarie Island stations.

Voyage management included Chris Calloway as Voyage Leader (VL), Leanne Millhouse as Deputy Voyage Leader (DVL), and Brad Collins on refuelling. They were all exceptional and proved to run a very efficient and safe dispatch of fuel (SAB — special Antarctic blend), cargo and loading of RTA (return to Australia cargo) from the ship’s end whilst Kenny Smith and myself dealt with the logistics wharf side, with the support of the entire station behind us.

Re-supply involves everyone on station and I believe every role is just as important as the next. It is a complex operation that requires everyone to assist — whether it be walking the fuel line, doing dishes in the kitchen, driving plant or coordinating the whole operation — everyone plays a crucial role to efficiently and safely turn the big orange girl around to complete the season. I also have to take my hat off to the ship’s team who also work around the clock to assist the Australian Antarctic Division.

So with the help of everyone involved with the Casey resupply and mother nature, we successfully dispatched close to 900,000 litres of SAB and 630,000 tonnes of cargo to resupply the station and all RTA was delivered to the ship. This was all done in near-record time of seven days in total and most importantly it was all done safely and with no environmental concerns.

I would like to thank everyone who made my first time as beach master a thoroughly enjoyable and successful one and I look forward to taking on the role next resupply with a monster of a beard!

Timothy New

Belated Casey Christmas

With uncertainty about when the Aurora Australis would arrive, bearing its load of new season winterers (and its resupply of food!), the Casey Christmas schedule was in a state of flux for a while. The ultimate arrival of the ship on Boxing Day meant Christmas festivities were somewhat multi-phased and extended at Casey this season.

In the first phase, the wallow was decked out in Christmas decorations, the tree erected and smothered in an explosion of tinsel and there was carol singing on Christmas eve, led by the Casey band and choir — a small piece of Christmas shared with the departing winterers. The lyrics to the Carol “I Saw Three Ships” were modified by Vicky to reflect the anticipated arrival of the Aurora Australis on the 25th December:

I saw a ship come sailing in,

on Christmas day, on Christmas day,

I saw a ship in Newcomb Bay,

on Christmas day in the morning

We’ve fixed up all the IRBs

on Christmas day, on Christmas day,

For off-loading the crates of cheese

on Christmas day in the morning

We’re hoping for light winds this year

on Christmas day, on Christmas day,

nineteen days, yes, that’s the fear!

on Christmas day in the morning

Work and haul and lift and stack

on Christmas day, on Christmas day,

The winterers then heading back

on Christmas day in the morning

The time is near to say farewell

on Christmas day, on Christmas day,

And face the Southern Ocean swell

on Christmas day in the morning

Our full Christmas feast and celebration was delayed until after resupply and the departure of the Aurora Australis. It was also preceded by a beach party and BBQ to celebrate the new year when we farewelled friends on the ship.

Thus, after a couple of days off following the hectic resupply period, it was January 5th when Casey formally celebrated Christmas. Fortunately Santa Claus and Mrs Claus were available to make an appearance, accompanied by an entourage of three elves and two reindeer to draw the sleigh (Hagg). Gifts were shared including some beautiful items crafted in the Casey workshops, the wallow was transformed into a festive dining area by the enthusiastic hands of many and an amazing feast was put on by chefs Scotty and Jarrod, supported by the super, super slushies Ange and Marie, as well as Adam and the others who took time to help in the kitchen. With a toast to the new wintering crew from Bob, and a grace offered by Aaron, a great community night with Christmas spirit ensued and was enjoyed by all.

Survival of the Fittest

With the successful completion of resupply and the arrival of the new 2012/2013 winter and remaining summer expeditioners, it meant that it was time for some hands-on survival training on the ice.

Two teams, lead by the field training officers Nick Morgan and Ian Whiteley, left station for a 24 hour outdoor survival and navigation training exercise. This was conducted on the Bailey Peninsula just south of the station and also led onto the sea ice at Shirley Island, which is about 2.5KM east of Casey station. 

Team VNJ2 comprised of Dr Gerry Bulger, Janet Shelley — our summer weather girl, Gavin Starr — the dieso boss, Mick Williams — an expedition mechanic and Abrar Shabren — station wintering weather observer.

On the other hand, VNJ3 was an all-boys affair with the Vin Diesel look alike Sir Lee Mitchell — the building services supervisor and fire chief, Mark Johnston — our wintering plumber/waste manager, Jeremy Meadowcroft — the station wintering electrician and Mark Beecher (also known as the tough guy) who is also a station mechanic.

Equipped with our new outdoor survival packs and ice axes, the teams left station around 10:30am with their respective field training officers in two different directions. Making our way in the cold, windy and chilly conditions we began learning the skills of navigation from Ian and Nick.

After having a bite to eat and a rest, the teams again set off to drill some sea ice at Shirley Island. After this we merged as one team back at survival camp. Upon reaching camp the boys organised their villas and kitchen. We all had dinner together then relayed back to station that we were all safe and enjoying ourselves in our nightly scheduled report. After dinner saw the arrival of some unique penguins on skis that came to visit the lone campers.

It was definitely an amazing experience digging snow and ice with a shovel to make our bedrooms, cooking on snow and using our bivies and sleeping bags to spend our night, especially when we didn’t have much darkness as the sun set for only few hours before it was up again. As newbies we all learnt a lot of new and important skills which we will surely be using during winter or whenever the need arises. There is more field training left for the new winter expeditioners in the forthcoming week. Until then it is good to know that “we survived the Antarctic Ice”.