This week we're busy with preparations for our mid-winter festivities, we meet Troy (or is that Trey) the station IT and Comms guru (and resident historian and travel expert), and Shoey is contemplating midwinter and why we're all here.

Station update

Wow this mid-winter festivities thing is time consuming.

While work continues on around station it seems that much of our spare time this week (and I must admit even some of our work time) has been taken up with preparations for our mid-winter celebrations.

The invite has been sent and replies are incoming. Some not quite getting the joke and indicating that they’re busy filming in some far off exotic location or we just haven’t give them enough time to get a trip to Antarctica into their schedule, but some others providing very inventive and entertaining responses which we look forward to hearing and watching next Thursday evening.

The Red Shed needs some work; refurbishments mean we’re living amongst a building site but this will not be the case for our celebrations. Nick and his team have been working frantically to make sure we have a clean, building materials free, location for our party. All going well, we’ll be using the new Splinters bar and the new first floor (and even new ablutions) next Thursday. For just one short week of the winter we can have a reprieve from the renovations.

Dom is busy in the kitchen working on the menu of goodies to be consumed through the day. The luxury goods he and Jason, in the green store, have been hiding away for the last seven months are being extracted from their hiding places ready for a grand appearance as part of our bountiful banquet of delicacies.

The photo of the team has been taken, ready for the mid-winter greeting to be dispatched to all Antarctic / sub-Antarctic stations. This year we’ve rocked the historic explorer look (a’la Mawson’s men on the Aurora) and we have a magnificent photo; thanks to Dom’s spectacular photographic skills and largely due to the fact that we’re an extremely photogenic and good looking lot!

Then there’s the entertainment. Video production team “Jeff-Mann Productions” has a tight schedule of filming to ensure not one winterer misses their chance for 20 seconds of fame. Whether they want to be famous of not. No excuses have been accepted. Locations, scripting, soundtrack recording, acting coaching, costuming, herding of penguins, it’s all happening for our “sounds of penguins” movie. To be premiered on the red carpet next Thursday. Unfortunately, it’s highly unlikely that it will be coming to a movie theatre near you… you’ll just have to take my word for it that it’s Sundance Film Festival worthy!

And the swim… as much as I’d like this to be a long forgotten tradition, it seems that we will be swimming in a hole, in the ice, next Thursday morning. Plans for cutting and extracting the ice have been made. Monday we start, chainsaws, augers, manpower all drafted in for some cold work down on Newcomb Bay. We’ve had our medical brief warning us of the imminent dangers, we’ve signed our waiver, and now with much trepidation we await to fulfil our part in this very questionable tradition.

Happily, the outdoor spa has made an appearance, serviced and ready to warm us up after the swim. Here on station we don’t just fill it up with a hose… oh no, the skid steer dumps snow in to be melted and heated over the next few days.  It might even get a pre-work out over the weekend. Well it’s in location, why not give it a tester?

So, party planning underway; here’s to a successful festival of the winter solstice. See you on the other side.

Rebecca (Casey SL)

5min with the 71st ANARE crew: Troy Henderson

 Troy Henderson

Nickname(s): Tray, T-rex

From: Originally a Newcastle boy, Up the Knights!

Previous seasons? This is hopefully the first of many

Job title: Station Communications Technical Officer

Describe your role in two sentences: Pretty much keep the internet, phones and anything electronic working so our expeditioners can talk to home. I also get to do some cool science support jobs like setting up sea bird monitoring cameras or taking Magnetic Observations for Geoscience Australia.

What did you do before your joined the AAD?

I was a Communications Technician in the Navy and then as a Defence contractor for a long time, had a stint working for Google Streetview over in Europe, the Middle East and Africa for a bit. I’ve been in Engineering Asset Management the last few years though.

What is your favourite part of your job here at Casey?

In summer when you sometimes get to walk past penguins to get to work is pretty fantastic.

If you were not a Communications Technician what would be your dream job?

I think owning a company in Europe running tours and pub crawls would probably be the dream (it’s going to happen one of these days).

I think I would be a pretty successful Rugby League coach too (NRL lets hook a brother up!)

How does this season at Casey compare to your previous seasons down south?

It’s my first season, but it will be a hard one to top when I come back.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I’m currently half way through a degree at the moment so down here I spend a lot of my time studying. If I’m not studying I like to get involved with the Casey social scene, or get out and spend a night in a hut.

What song sums up your Casey experience so far?

Brian Fallon — A Wonderful Life 

What actor would play you in a film version of our 71st ANARE season here at Casey? 

I really want to say someone a bit like Jon Snow from Game Of Thrones, but in all honestly, someone like Robert Baratheon would be a much closer resemblance.

Favourite piece of Australian Antarctic Division kit?
The Canada Goose down jacket! There is nothing like walking out into −20 degree weather and still cracking a sweat.

What is your favourite book and movie and why?

Book — The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay. I think I’ve read this book about 20 times in my life. I love the thought that if you work hard and, even if you have a few setbacks you can achieve anything.

Movie — Before Sunrise (and the sequels). All you need in life is good conversation, a great backdrop, a little bit of hope and a pretty girl to love. These movies nail it!

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

I don’t really have a genre, but I’ve been listening to a lot of 21 Pilots, Larkin Poe, Frightened Rabbit, The Menzingers and the Gaslight Anthem lately.

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

Sight: It’s hard to get over those Auroras on a clear night.

Smell: The elephant seal wallow out at Brownings… I can still smell it now!

Sound: Sadly, it’s 2 Dogs (Scotty Clifford) ‘Singing’ Dirty Deeds every time we have a Karaoke night.

Feeling: That bitter cold feeling if you don’t rug up properly before walking outside.

Taste: Dom’s formal dinner Sous Vide Steak!

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

Be decisive. Right or wrong, make a decision. The road is paved with flat squirrels who couldn’t make a decision. — Unknown

Employee or Expeditioner?

Living and working in the same place even if it wasn’t the bottom of the world is always a tricky thing to do. You spend all day working with each other and then instead of driving home each day to your own family, you then proceed to spend the evening with your colleagues. Weekends are still consumed with the fellow expeditioners as no one can leave station on their own. Day in day out, sometimes feeling like groundhog day; it’s like living in a bubble or I like to compare it to the old 90s movie called ‘Biodome’.

No way in or out during this ever dark winter period. People start getting the winter blues, dragging their feet a little more trying to lug the big winter boots through the snow. Maybe not putting the bread away or not putting the dishes through the cleaner. Even not cleaning the coffee machine correctly or not re-filling the milk jugs. It seems trivial but very noticeable when usually the station runs like a well-oiled machine.

But with mid-winter on the horizon and the unhurried return of the sun it brings more than just much needed vitamin D to our Casper like pale skin. It also means the turning point of the season, it’s the home stretch. We start getting ready for the new season and new crew eagerly awaiting to take our spots and send us packing. Something that really excites me is the return of the wildlife back to the area. Adèlie penguins in their scores come scurrying across the sea ice to find their spot on the islands getting ready the summer and more importantly the mating season.

As for expeditioner or employee, sometimes this place feels like all you do is work, sleep and repeat. But it is more than that, we’re here for a purpose. To keep this station running and ready to go for the summer and years to come, without us they would rock up to just a mountain of snow and a station below it. Much like Wilkes station across the bay. Our due diligence allows for the continuation of pivotal scientific projects that significantly impact the research that may one day prolong the life of this slowly dying planet.

Darren (Shoey)