This week we feature Australia Day celebrations and get some new visitors. The team make the most of the warm weather and take part in an early ‘Clean Up Australia’ day.

Australia Day at Casey

Australia Day at an Australian Antarctic research station is one of the most anticipated days of the season. Casey this year was no different. With a small group of passionate people to help organise the day so that all the activities ran smoothly, our morning kicked off with our summer station photo. The phrase “like herding cats” gets thrown around when you are trying to assemble everybody on station to stand still in one place… at the same time. We nearly achieved perfection this year with only a few people not present. The end result is an amazing picture taken by Stu, one of the expeditioners that have truly made Casey their home this summer.

Next item on the agenda was the traditional Australia Day swim. We call it a swim but it’s mostly a splash and dash of adrenaline fuelled excitement and it tends to be over in the blink of an eye. But none the less all the brave souls willing to participate had passed a pre–swim medical check and were eager and ready to go.

The water temperature was a pleasant 0°C and the air temperature not too much higher, but with no wind and a perfect blue sky day we couldn’t have asked for better conditions to go for an icy Antarctic dip. Some Adélie penguins briefly came over to check out what all the fuss was about but soon retreated to the safety of a nearby ice floe.

After the feeling returned to our extremities, and still buzzing from the icy dip, it was time for a delicious Aussie Day brunch prepared by our amazing chefs. The mood in the mess was jubilant and with the Triple J Hottest 100 countdown streaming live around station the day was taking shape.

It’s not Australia Day without some sport being played in the afternoon and after a warm up of Frisbee and footy kicking, a cricket game erupted. The Aussies vs The Internationals.

Backyard cricket rules — loosely adhered too by the umpire (who did an awesome job I might add!). The Internationals won the toss and chose to bat first. Their team consisted of Canadians, Scots, English, Kiwis and people who seemed confused as to where they were born…

After a few quick tips on the finer points of cricket were handed out to some of the players, like how to hold the bat, it was game on. The Internationals did quite well given the relentless pace of the Aussie bowling attack and that most of them had never seen a cricket match before. All out for somewhere around 100.

Team Australia were up to bat next after the drinks break. All I will say is that one ball ended up on top of the Red Shed and the display of batting was something Bradman would've been proud of. The Internationals didn’t quite come to grips with once you have a bat you need to field to complete the game. So as a result many boundaries were struck with the field having more holes in it than a colander.

A special treat was organised in the mid afternoon with a Qantas flight flying low overhead. Quite the site to see a Boeing 747–400 flying over the icebergs.

What many are calling the highlight of the day was the premiere screening of Luke’s short film about why you should never pick a snowball fight with someone nicknamed “Blackfish”. Some critics are calling the 17 and a half minute film a ‘masterpiece of cinematography’ and ‘Oscar worthy'. Hopefully when a fast internet connection becomes available it will make its way to YouTube for all to see. Five stars!

Last of the formalities was the Australia Day BBQ dinner which featured a beautifully cooked roast lamb on the spit. The night then kicked on till the wee hours for the die–hards but quite a few retired early after such a big day.

A big thank you to everyone at Casey and Head Office for making this an Australia Day that will not be soon forgotten.

Ferret – Plumber

Work goes on

Work projects continue around the station, and each and every week reveals new and different obstacles to be overcome. A fault in the site service required the removal of a huge snowbank to trace the source of the problem. And the lads have been busy every day with huge concrete pours to lay the flooring for the new CUB (Combined Utility Building).

Ness continues her weekly analysis of the remediation process of old fuel contamination in the soil substrata around Casey, as well as weekly monitoring of X–ray changes in the protective bentonite matting in a selected part of the remediation area.

Lloyd – Doctor

Casey clean up day

On Saturday January 28th, Casey station proudly became the first Antarctic location to register and participate in the annual ‘Clean Up Australia Day'.

Even though the official event is scheduled to occur in March, the Aussie Day long weekend was used to take advantage of the peak in population and warmer weather that characterise this time of year at Casey. Following through with a brilliant idea from Building Services Supervisor Lorrienne, a few hours were set aside to make our beautiful station even more beautiful, through the removal of various unwanted items that had accumulated over the years.

The master–plan involved the station being strategically divided into six zones, with each zone having a designated leader, and all working under the watchful eye of chief coordinator extraordinaire, Lorrienne.

So, after a typically delightful morning tea in the Red Shed, we all assembled in our designated clean–up groups, dressed dashingly in hi–vis attire and the mandatory gloves, ready to take out the trash.

For the next three or so hours, everyone worked feverishly at removing anything that was out of place, loading all manner of bits and pieces into buckets, utes, buckets, trucks, buckets, bigger trucks, buckets, and bins.

By the end of it all, a load of assorted stuff had been collected, consisting of such things as wood scraps, metal scraps, cable ties, plastics, and mind-boggling number of nails (many of which, disturbingly, were uncovered on the main road through town).

Pats on the back and high–fives ensued, with a feeling of contentment surging through the station, each happy in the knowledge that they’d made the station that little bit better. It is hoped that this will become an annual event at Casey, and who knows, it may even spread to elsewhere on the Antarctic continent!

US visitors

Casey station received a visitor in the form of a US LC130 (Hercules) this week. The flight came across from US Antarctic station McMurdo and stayed a night at Casey, before linking with an Airbus flight from Hobart and transporting passengers over to Davis. The US crew returned to Casey later that evening where they were able to stay for another night before flying back to McMurdo.

The crew were impressed by the facilities at Casey, with only one of the crew members having been here before. Casey is quite a bit smaller than McMurdo (in terms of population) and the scenery and wildlife here is quite different.

The crew, who are mostly from upstate New York, took the opportunity to have a walk around the station and exchange some stories (and gifts) with the Caseyites.

The crew added to the already long list of international visitors that we’ve had here this season.