This week we visit Aaron at the green store, take a look in a day in a life of a station leader, pack away Wilkins aerodrome for the winter and introduce our weekly picture gallery.

Green store inventory project

The station supply officer (SSO) has begun the inventory project in the green store this month, starting with moving all the shelving out of the racking to the mezzanine floor. This will allow for more pallet spaces in the racking so we can make use of the area on the mezzanine floor.

Once everything has been moved to its new home, it’s time to identify, consolidate and locate it all back the shelves to be accounted for in the new inventory system.

A day in the life of an Antarctic station leader

6:00am Feet down

“Tumble outta bed
And stumble to the kitchen
Pour myself a cup of ambition
Yawnin, stretchin, try to come to life
Jump in the shower
And the blood starts pumpin…”

That dammed Dolly Parton song plays on the mental musical loop way too often, especially at this time of day. Any busy day, feet on the floor before 6am is the only way to go.

7:00am Meeting

Well during summertime at Casey this is the time for the morning weather briefing for aviation movements, field trips, boating trips. The duty forecaster has been hard at it for some time getting a forecast together so we can confirm our days plans which were made the evening before.  Ops coordinator confirms the daily movements, Pilots discuss minimums & endurance Aircraft Ground Support Officer’s (AGSO’s) look at their watches wondering how soon they can get at it, boat master discusses crewing requirements, Station Leader nods sagely — job done.

8:00am Brekky

Breakfast usually means the first sustenance for the day, except for station leaders who do their first press conference of the day, poised with Weetbix halfway from plate to palate the gallery begins the questions, “can I” “should I” “will we”. What follows is the “Of courses” “Yeps” and the “you are kidding’s” and the station day is underway. A working station is a small town so what is not seen is the electricians and plumbers and mechanics busily keeping things working. The communications team keeping us in touch with the world, the Meteorological people keeping us ahead of the weather game the chef keeps the food coming and so on. It happens, it doesn’t just happen but it happens and with a minimum of fuss while the Station Leader smiles sagely — job done.

8:30am Desk 

Inbox keeps pinging as a myriad of things come in and get dealt with. Average email flow in summer  is about 120 a day, mostly work related information, IHIS reports, sitreps, reminders, weather METAR’s, plus the general administrative stuff,  a manager from Kingston with a query about a whatsismagiggler that was installed, does it work, how many people use it, all pretty standard types of things. Station Leader frowns sagely — job done

10:00am Smoko

Well don’t think anyone stops to smoke these days but the chef generally has some smokin’ muffins on the go by then and the Weetbix that never quite made the full journey are forgotten about. Time to write some new stuff on the whiteboards about meetings, events, warnings, and all manner of things housekeeping; the station whiteboards are a seething cauldron of useful information. The station leader writes sagely- job done

10:30am Work

At last the real work starts — sortta — the phone rings people wander into the office for chats, questions, pre-planned meetings, it gets away. The Station Leader sagely guides the discussions.   

Midday Lunch  

Hang on, didn’t we just have smoko, yep and now its lunchtime and the chef have excelled again. Plenty of choice too, so for the SL today a piece of grilled fish and a salad, and not just any salad but salad from the Casey hydroponics team. Perfectly fresh Tomatoes, rocket and cucumber, throw in some onion a few olives and some fetta — hang on where’s the fetta, what no fetta, oh well a salad without fetta is still a salad. The Station Leader chooses sagely

1:00pm Back at it     

Well the phone rings less now and the projects sitting on the desk start to get some life of their own, reports, rosters, approvals, minutia has its moment in the sun and the station leader works sagely.

3:00pm out and about

Well time flies, out and about, what is happening down at the quarry, time for a walk around. Who is doing what, where, actually where is everyone? Well the diesos are over at Penguin Pass fixing a big smoker that wouldn’t start this morning, the plumbers are in the waste treatment plant looking at poo, the sparky’s are in the wallow looking at a panel with a light, the met guys are looking at the sky, the chippies are unpacking a huge cardboard box that has some heavy stuff, the slushy and chef are telling jokes and peeling spuds, the storeman is looking at stuff to put away, the coms guys are looking intently at a spreadsheet and muttering about axiom dollows — what the hell is an axiom dollow. The station leader sagely seeks the doc for a hearing test.

4:30pm P90X 

Oh here is the Doc, smiling, pretending to be a healer when all know very well he is behind the sore muscles and aching joints. One asks oneself at times like this, is the fitness thing really necessary, do we need to avoid the ravages of a western diet and lifestyle.  Yeah I guess so, on comes the P90X video and all questions are forgotten as we struggle to do yoga. A plumber,  a comms tech, a storeman, a sparky and the station leader share the secret pain and awkwardness of pushing prefect bodies into imperfect challenges. We know elsewhere on station another group of hardened athletes is pushing the limits of human endurance in a valiant endeavour to keep the doctor off our case. The station leader groans sagely.

6:00pm Dinner 

A daily highlight is dinner where the battle between good and evil has its daily culmination, the good of the fine chef who slaves away at preparing us essential sustenance and the evil doctor who convinces us to subject our bodies to unspeakable tortures. The universal battle between good and evil rages on many battlefields, this is ours. That said, dinner is a wonderful time of day on station, you get to see most people, the food is always excellent and there is generally a winding down vibe. The station leader sprinkles sage sauce on a sublime steak. Oh it couldn’t last all day.

7:30pm Meeting

Summer time, and the living is easy

Fish are jumping

And the cotton is high

Oh your daddy's rich

And your mommy’s good looking

So hush, pretty littly baby

Don’t you cry

Well somewhere but not at Casey, we have an evening meeting about tomorrow a weather briefing followed by a planning session and a review with the ops coordinator.

8:30pm Social time

Time for a social chat in the wallow, well sort of but it is usually all business, longer term projects, the Building Services Supervisor (BSS) wants to discuss the refit of a room, the Senior Mechanical Supervisor (SMS) wants to discuss rosters, the met guys want to do a rec trip (recreational trip) and the station leader is thinking yesterday was parsley, today sage, is tomorrow rosemary or thyme.   


Wilkins pack-down

Another successful summer at Casey was officially ended with the departure of the last A319 flight out of Wilkins Aerodrome for the 2012/13 season. After the flight had departed one of the first jobs on the winter agenda was the winterisation of the aerodrome’s facilities and machinery. 

Tim, Andy, Matt and Ben stayed up at Wilkins for two weeks to complete the task which included packing up the runway and camp infrastructure as well as towing some very heavy buildings away from their summer positions to their winter storage positions on the winter berm and exposed ice areas. 

Armed with endless amounts of tape, food and fuel as well as some great help from members of meteorological services, communications technicians, mechanics and tradespeople (and without much help from the weather) the chaps did a magnificent job, managing to pack down Wilkins safely and successfully.

Everything at Wilkins now rests in its winter position braving the strong winds, snow and cold, waiting for the crew to return for the summer of 2013/14. With a bit of luck it will still be there when they arrive. 

Picture gallery of the week

This week’s picture gallery features photos taken by Michael Salinas from the Bureau of Meteorology.