The winning weather poem is announced and a trip to sixty six degrees south.

The winning poetry entry

Well done again to everyone who wrote a weather poem! It was a tight race with some great entries. In conclusion to our poetry contest from last week, the winner by the barest of margins was Pete Hargreaves. Congratulations to Pete. Some may say he tried to butter the ‘judge’ up with some sweet words, but nothing was said that isn’t absolutely true!

So with prize pack in hand, I kitted Pete up with safety gear and armed him with a marker pen to set free a balloon. Ian happened to be floating around, so to spread the love, I got him to do a balloon also. I was mindful that helium (no I didn’t use hydrogen in case my boss reads this) doesn’t grow on trees (and if it did, we don’t have any trees here). So as Ian’s was the consolation prize, I made him blow the balloon up himself. How many breathes was that, Ian?

Once again, thanks and well done to everyone who submitted a poem.

Casey Weather Crew by Pete Hargreaves

In our wee Antarctic Community

There’s one group who provides us Immunity,

From the wind, the snow and the Blizzards

It’s been whispered they may even be Wizards,

For whenever we go on a Jolly

We know it will not be a Folly,

As we are always to be rest Assured

That in fact our Jolly’s are Insured,

From the nastiness of the Environment

And the prospect of placing our trip into early Retirement,

Making all this Happen

In a rather orderly Fashion,

Are indeed three Wizards

No mere lounge room Lizards,

Who are these Men?

Who provide such Zen,

They’re BOM I hear the crowd Cry

As they gaze to the Sky,

They’re Dan Laban

The youngest weather Man,

And Kevin Gunn

Forever returning to the Antarctic Sun,

And last but by no means Least

The one the ladies call the Beast,

For it’s rumoured in Fact,

That you can’t ever go Back,

Once you’ve MET Steve John Black.

Sixty-six thirty-three forty-four

66° 33′ 44″ (or 66.5622° for those that way inclined) is one of the five major latitudinal parallels of the world, or as I’d say, the Antarctic Circle. Such was the conversation over a cab sav a wee time back. “Lets go for an adventure” our ‘to be’ trip leader says. “Hoorah!” we say, “To the Antarctic Circle to camp” he says. “Oh” we say not bother to hid the disappointment in our voices. “Nah the real one, not the touristy one that everybody has seen and done” he says.

Anyhow it came to pass that we did indeed make preparations to travel and camp out for a night at the Antarctic Circle — the real one. Adventurers included Ian, Steve.B, Eddie & Joe. With polar pyramids, lots of sleep mats and bags, some rat packs and a sense of adventure we ventured forth along the cane line to Wilkins. Between A17 & A18 (distance markers) the leader gave a hoy, and off to the track we went to mark our spot at 66° 33′ 44″. Funnily enough it was only about 600m from the ‘tourist’ sign. I have heard rumours about ice and glaciers moving?

Tents were swifty erected, sleeping mats unfurled, shellite cookers fired up and the mobile met station established. It was a lazy −37.5°C with 12 kts of wind on arrival, and it didn’t change much. Ultimately the lowest recorded temperature was −39.3°C -mind you, I did have to improvise the sighting of the instrument screen, so it was a non standard height (top of the Hägglunds), so lets just call it −40°C. After we had got camp set up we drilled a hole and sunk a flag on a cane pole to mark this year's Antarctic Circle, though there wasn’t much joy in boiling ice for a cup a tea outside to raise a salute. So before long we headed to our respective tents - which did warm up quite nicely once the cooker and tilley lamp were on - had delightful rehydrated meal, and didn’t re-emerge until time for our scheduled evening call to Casey.

We tried to radio Casy with HF radio, but only got Davis station. And what a magnificent evening — clear skies with brightest of stars, Milky Way and a faint aurora — though not a lot of time was spent enjoying this due to the cold being somewhat painful, so an early night to bed it was. Eddie did brave it longer that the rest of us trying to get some Milky Way photos, but who knew the lithium batteries in his camera wouldn’t work well at near minus −40°C. We also placed a minimum thermometer in the valance of the tent overnight. Alas, it kind of broke — it only goes down to −50°C!

All I can say is thank the heavens for our four layers of matts and sheepskin underlays, plus two sleeping bags. We made our way back to Casey the next day, all the richer for an adventurous trip.

Steve B