This week at Casey the SL gets a little reflective when thinking about leaving Antarctica, we learn about the seabird camera maintenance just completed in preparation for the return of the penguins, get a wrap up of the Casey 24 hour fitness challenge, and see Jason’s time in Antarctica through photos.

Station Update

As we count down to home time and the onset of the summer season in Antarctica, the time is slipping away rapidly in frantic activity of station deep cleans, conclusion of the winter’s Red Shed project, packing and consignment of personal effects, last field trips out to the huts, and preparation of handover schedules and documents for the incoming team.

We also found the time for a 24-hour fitness challenge which was to raise money for Camp Quality. To us, it’s also a celebration of Scotty 2 Dogs’ magnificent efforts over winter to get fit and lose an extraordinary amount of weight. He may be reticent to mention it in his story below but, from us all… Good Job! (Although those who had the sessions in the middle of the night were cursing 2 Dogs through every 2:00am step on the treadmill!)

Not long off the treadmill and the conclusion of the 24-hour challenge, we were dressing into 1950s stylish fashions to take part in a Murder Mystery Dinner. It was ‘all aboard for Murder on the Orient Express. A disparate group of individuals with a few spies thrown in — a murder is committed, a scavenger hunt for clues, some incisive interviews from the famous (?) detective, Herpetia Perdot, some random guesses as to who the murderer might be (none successful), and then the outcome revealed in a dramatic announcement. All in all, a great night, and probably our last chance to get into fancy dress before we head home.

So, for those who might have been worried after last week’s Icy News, I’m happy to report that our psych debriefs all went well and we’ve been given the clearance to return to Australia.

Just three weeks from today and we’ll be touching down in Hobart. Ready to see green trees and colourful flowers, feel the rain or a warm breeze on our faces, eat fresh fruit and vegies… and to return to the love of our friends and family.

But in turn, that means only three weeks and we will no longer look out across Newcombe Bay at the icebergs; drive down the A-Line in a Hägglunds and see the Casey station Lego village nestled comfortably amongst the rocky hills below; hear the gentle hum of the Main Power House or the distant squawking of the penguins as the soundtrack to our life here; taste the 2 Dogs home brew (and not have to pay for it); have our three meals a day supplied without fail by our personal chef; or be forced to wear some fancy dress costume by the station leader AKA station party planner.

Our Casey family will soon disperse to the ends of the earth in pursuit of work and recreation. We’ve come together from all walks of life, and despite our differences we’ve lived and worked harmoniously for 12 months, bought together by this incredible experience which will live on in our memories long after we’ve returned to the warmth and fresh fruit and vegetables.

Live long and prosper the 71st ANARE.

Rebecca (Casey SL)

Seabird Cameras

Whilst there are many great activities and projects to keep yourself occupied at Casey, the unofficial king of ‘Science Support’ programs to get involved with is the Southwell/Emmerson project AKA Seabird Camera project.

Now, the seabird cameras can be very delicate bits of equipment, so who can the scientists responsible for these cameras trust to look after these cameras over the year? Well, the diesos just hit things with hammers, so they're out. It has more than two wires, so it’s too technical for the sparkies. It doesn’t have valves or vents, so the plumbers won’t be able to figure out how it works. And the chippies don’t like leaving the warm surroundings of the Red Shed.

That leaves only the Comms Tech, the old trusty Comms Tech. These members of the station are commonly regarded as the most handsome on station, but another widely known fact is that they are the most technically gifted expeditioners, and as the scientists that work down here will confirm, the most trustworthy. So the penguin camera maintenance falls to the Comms Tech to look after.

Around Casey Station we have nine seabird monitoring cameras, set up on the surrounding islands and rocky outcrops where a range of penguins and several species of petrels nest over summer. Most of the cameras are located in ASPA’s (Antarctic Special Protected Areas), which means they are generally off-limits to visitors and curious expeditioners. This means there are no shortages of volunteers to assist.

The cameras are visited twice a year to confirm they are stable, taking photos of the correct area, the batteries and solar panels are functioning correctly, and to collect the photos from the previous six months. The cameras survive through the harsh Antarctic elements, which can include 100 knot winds, metres of snow, curious penguins and −35 degree temperatures. So unlike anything our station tradies make, they're build to last.

Some people say that the best part of helping out with the sea bird project is spending the day with the dapper Comms guy. Sure, but for me, it’s the long, stunning hikes out to Blakeney Point, or across the mountainous Ardery Island, and then the reward of sitting in the middle of a colony of curious Adélie Penguins that seem just as keen to figure out how the cameras work as some of our assistants.

Troy Henderson
Casey’s Trusty Comms Tech

The Casey 24hr Fitness Challenge

During the winter months on Antarctic stations, there’s always a David & Goliath encounter stirring behind the scenes. This is a battle between the Station Doctor and the Station Chef. The winner is determined by whether there’s overall station weight gain or weight loss over the winter months. Weight loss would see the Doc win and weight gain would see the Chef win.

To start the winter, a 12 week Casey ‘Biggest Loser’ challenge was organised. Everyone who aimed to lose weight in this period was successful.

After the completion of the Biggest Loser, we decided to set our sights on another challenge to finish off winter - a 24-hour fitness challenge where expeditioners are required to complete a fitness relay on a piece of gym equipment, or yoga or any other fitness activities in their allocated hour timeslot.

We also incorporated our challenge into a fundraiser to benefit Camp Quality. Camp Quality help support children living with cancer and is a charity close to a lot of Australian Antarctic Expeditioners.

At 5pm on Friday we started. The first competitor was Bec, our station leader, who completed a stint on the treadmill and rowing machine. Next was myself, I used a run/walk on the treadmill to prepare for my marathon run period coming up the following day. After a quick relocation of the exercise bike to the Odeon, Catz and Shane were able to complete their element of the challenge while watching the new Jurassic Park movie with the rest of the station.

George, Jane, Scotty T, Zach, Bec (again), Ben, Catz (again) and Misty were the night-watch people, competing throughout the night and into the early hours of Saturday morning. After some running repairs to the treadmill due to overheating after Allan’s inclined run at 5am Saturday morning, Dom, Patty and Marcus were able to complete their sessions. Shane also did a yoga session and a walk around the station ski loop and to the wharf, taking us to 12pm. I was next, completing my first ever marathon run over the next 4 hours and 13 minutes. Troy was our final competitor after a last minute rush to the treadmill following a return from a field hut trip.

At the completion of our challenge we had compiled a total of 232.96km’s and raised over $2500 for Camp Quality. A big Thank You to everyone who has donated and an amazing effort by everyone who participated.

It’s never too late to donate; please help support Camp Quality:

Scotty ‘2 Dogs’ Clifford

Jason’s Casey in pictures

First time down. An amazing experience.

Just a few photos.

Jason Beachcroft