This week at Casey we finalise preparations for the traverse team with suture training, lend support to the Wilkins team, meet the hirsute members of the Casey community as we are introduced to the smorgasbord of beards on station, and meet Shoey our HVAC balancing technician (who may be an evil infiltrator from Davis).

Station Update

Not much change to our winter routines that can be reported this week; we do our final checks and training for the winter Traverse (departing next week), support the Wilkins team in their preparations of the runway, and continue working hard to complete September work lists and finalise the Red Shed renovation’s large construction works.

Spring weather has bought intermittently fine and cold, and windy and warm weather, constantly changeable and unpredictable. The sunny days are deceptive with the warmth of the sun radiating through the windows when sheltered inside, but step outside not correctly covered and the digits will still quickly complain about their exposure.

Training for our winter traverse to Law Dome is now complete and the team are packed and ready to head off on Monday. This week the traverse team completed their suture training and on Friday night undertook the overnight familiarisation camp up at the Casey Ski Landing Area. The suture training was opened up to the whole station and was an opportunity taken up with much enthusiasm. Let’s really hope it’s not required; despite some great skill displayed, it might be a bit more difficult performing suturing on a live wriggling patient as opposed to pig skin. In a lucky happenstance, excess pig skin, salted and roasted, made for a fabulous bar snack on Friday night!

The Wilkins team are progressing well with their runway preparations. Some broken machinery required a ‘road train’ transfer to station on Monday in order to undertake repairs in the station’s workshop, and Troy, George and Baz visited this week to lend their skills (comms tech, met tech and electrician) to finalise the establishment of the summer camp.

So, a bit like Groundhog Day, we find we're in a bit of a September lull before the expected excitement in October, when we do our final preparations for the incoming team and pack!

At least we don’t need a groundhog on station to predict if winter will persist. Whether Punxsutawney Phil emerges and views his shadow or not… we’re betting on another six weeks.

Rebecca (Casey SL)


Our winter team has now been down here for over 300 days and those of us with the ability to grow one, now have pretty sweet beards. There are many reasons to grow a beard and not really any not to.

Reasons to grow a beard are as follows:
  • It keeps your face warm
  • You look awesome
  • It gives you something to play with during long conference calls or movies
  • You get to take cool photos with it all frozen
  • You are constantly complimented by other men with sweet beards
  • Women love men with beards

Reasons not to grow a beard are otherwise known as excuses and some examples are:

  • It’s itchy
  • It takes too long
  • My girlfriend doesn’t like it (probably want to break up with her)
  • I can’t grow facial hair

None of these excuses are accepted by the beard growing community and show lack of commitment, perseverance and poor character.

Some things to consider if you are coming down to Antarctica for a winter are an ample supply of beard oil, facial hair balm or for the naturalist — coconut oil. If you run out half way through winter you can ask your friendly chef for some extra virgin olive oil, though I personally do not recommend this unless you are going for the greasy Mediterranean look. Another thing to consider is to bring some anti dandruff shampoo as beard dandruff is a very real problem in such a dry environment (Dear Kingston, please supply humidifiers). A decent comb is important for your beard down here as we humans moult fantastically and often a stray beard hair on the dining table is taken as a hair from another region which shares the same coarseness and texture. If you decide to trim your beard then be extra careful and use the correct tools as many beards have been lost due to accidentally taking out a chunk and then having to take it down a few inches to even it out.

The most common and by far the most impressive beard in Antarctica is the free range beard where one does not trim or shape the beard and lets it take it’s natural course. When the moustache gets too long it is customary to trim using your teeth and chew the tips off. This keeps it a very natural looking moustache which compliments the free range beard. Of course there are no rules to beards and some do prefer to take a different route.

Señor Ben has adopted the “chops” look. However, he has recently decided that a beard is the way to go and is attempting to connect the “chops”; which will take some commitment to grow through the awkward patchy stage. Good work señor Ben!

Shoey, a veteran from last winter at Davis station, is the undisputed leader of our bearded community and the envy of non-bearded folk who lack the stones to commit to the process.

Allen and Macca both have fantastic salty beards and would not be out of place at the helm of a deep ocean voyage.

Zach has recently decided to start growing again and still has a couple of months to come up with something special for the folks back home.

Jason, our ginger FTO, has a magnificent red pirate beard which fits well with the pirate black metal he makes me listen to on his slushy days.

Scott Beardsley (actually his name) has that sweet military kind of beard which features in many Hollywood action movies of the past decade.

As for my beard, it is a work in progress and you can be the judge.

When out in the field in temperatures of −30°C with blowing wind, the strong beard acts as a fantastic wind breaker and also another layer between you and your neck/face warmer. Though if you are out for an extended period be very careful when taking off the face warmer as your beard may have frozen to it and could pull your beard clean off if not removed carefully. The loss of a beard whether deliberate or accidental can lead to separation anxiety and severe depression so please take care and consider carefully whether exposing the skin beneath is really what you want

Grow hard lads.

Dom Hall

5 min with the 71st ANARE crew: Darren Shoobridge

Name: Darren Shoobridge

Nicknames: Shoey

From: Minnipa SA — a little farming town in the middle of nowhere.

Previous seasons? Davis 16/17 Summer/Winter

Job title: Plumber / HVAC Balancing Technician

Describe your role in two sentences: Keep the station going until the next crew turns up and it’s their turn.

What did you do before your joined the AAD? Was running my own plumbing business. This feels like a holiday compared.

What is your favourite part of your job here at Casey? Burning everyone’s rubbish.

If you were not a plumber what would be your dream job? Instro Sparky… They get paid more.

How does this season at Casey compare to your previous seasons down south? Each season has been completely different but both equally rewarding.

What do you like to do in your spare time? Stir Baz up about Geelong losing.

What song sums up your Casey experience so far? Electric Light Orchestra — Mr Blue Sky. Regarding the long winter nights.

What actor would play you in a film version of our 71st ANARE season here at Casey? Ryan Reynolds… It’s like looking into a mirror. (Ryan from Deadpool)

What is your favourite hut for field trips and why? Bandits Hut because of the ride there and excessive amount of icebergs at your doorstep. Davis does it better.

Favourite piece of Australian Antarctic Division kit? AAD issued Beanie is a life saver.

What is your favourite book / movie (or both) and why? So many to choose from. Movie — The Departed. Books — A Song of Ice and Fire

What is your typical ‘Slushy FM’ genre? Do you have a particular favourite? Triple J

Describe your Casey experience with: a sight, a smell, a sound, a feeling and a taste.

Sight: Warren in full swing

Smell: Not smelling anything while off station

Sound: Fire alarms or the mysterious cuckoo clock coming from the green store

Feeling: Walking out into a blizzard trying to get to the workshop.

Taste: My birthday steak.

Do you have a favourite quote that you’d like to leave us with?

“Success only comes from failing first” by Shoey