A VIP visit and some media attention — and station life goes on.

Huffington post visit

Casey research station hosted the Huffington Post in the past week as part of the Division’s media program. Tom and Josh arrived on station on Friday, flying in via Wilkins Aerodrome on the C–17A. They spent the first day on survival training, visiting the Adélie penguin colony on Shirley Island before camping out in the field in the trusty “chip packet” –a tough introduction to life in Antarctica! They’ve been enjoying life on station, undertaking plenty of interviews and chatting with expeditioners new and old.

A highlight was a day on the sea ice in O’Brien Bay with two of our scientists — Glenn and James — and a third visitor in the form of a Weddell seal, which made for a great backdrop for an interview! We’re all looking forward to seeing how they share our story — keep an eye on the Huffington Post website for our smiling faces.

Governor General pays us a visit

Last week the Governor General, His Excellency the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd) visited Antarctica, meeting expeditioners and scientists at Wilkins Aerodrome. We were hoping he would be able to visit Casey research station but unfortunately the weather kept the helicopters grounded.

The Governor General had a tour of Wilkins Aerodrome, received a briefing on aviation and cargo operations, and met with scientists and expeditioners undertaking research and logistical support work on the continent. He also flew over Casey research station in the Twin Otter, with a few of us outside in time to give him a big wave!

Ongoing training

The past week has seen more groups of expeditioners go through survival training, involving the now standard activities of trekking across to Shirley Island, drilling holes in the sea ice to check its thickness and integrity, and sleeping outside in a makeshift camp.

Hägg training has also commenced, with those staying on through winter being the first up. Activities include learning to navigate a Hägglunds vehicle solely by GPS to simulate a whiteout situation, which is a reasonably common occurrence in this part of the world.

Training of a more leisurely kind, in the form of ski inductions also kicked off — or perhaps shuffled off — during the weekend. With the four kilometre cross–country ski loop behind the station now officially open, numerous skiing enthusiasts of varying abilities signed up for the tuition provided by Rebecca, Johan and Andy. The result was some minor bruising, and major fun.

Mixed weather

After the preceding week’s “big blow”, the most recent weekend featured a significant amount of snow — the most we’ve seen since the summer crew arrived. This meant another weekend spent indoors, although most seemed to enjoy the tranquil scene created by the white blanket.

Activity surrounding some of the science projects has been somewhat limited by the lack of suitable flying weather of late, particularly in the area of Totten Glacier where conditions have been less than ideal. Shorter flights by the Twin Otter and helicopters have been slotted in here and there, though everyone is hopeful of getting a decent spell of clear weather so that activities can be ramped up.

The weather forecasting team has endured the brunt of this frustration, and is blaming the situation on a malfunctioning dartboard in the met office.

One of the surest signs that the seasons are changing has been the retreat of sea ice in front of the station, with the warmer temperatures and recent high winds being the main causes of its break–up. Still, there’s a fair way to go before the ship turns up in the harbour for station resupply mid–December.

Social activities

With numbers on the station climbing towards peak summer levels, there’s always something happening outside of work hours. The weekend featured a ‘loud shirt’ night, at which several questionable Hawaiian shirts were spotted, and a snowman…errr, snow-person, building competition. Due to the inclement weather, many chose to spectate from the warmth of indoors, with the winner being decided by a panel of self–appointed experts.

There are rumours circulating that the greatest rock band ever to play at Casey station has been rehearsing solidly, and will soon wow the masses with their inspired renditions of popular classics. These rumours are thought to have been spread by band members, and are of dubious credibility.

With the increasing number of people now trained and eligible to head off station in their leisure time, options are increasing for day trips or overnight adventures to field huts. As such, it is expected that the handful of trip leaders on station are going to become very popular people over the coming weeks.