This week the snow has finally stopped and we get to see the night sky for the first time in a while, we go on a bit of killing spree to fill the quiet dark hours on station, and we meet ‘2 Dogs’ our project carpenter by day and brew master and karaoke king by night.

Station update

Last week you heard of the inundation of snow at Casey, well this week it’s finally stopped and we have for the first time, in what seems weeks, seen the night sky. And what a night sky! A bright green aurora shimmering and writhing like a snake just above the distant horizon sending up pillars of light and tempting all expeditioners out into the cold to try and capture that perfect photo. I’ve heard that aurorae at Casey aren’t as spectacular as at other stations, but they seem pretty good to me. Judge for yourself, I think George should be pretty happy with his shot.

The clearing of the night sky has bought with it other magnificent sights… the Milky Way and stars so big and bright you could almost reach out and touch them. Trying to recognise those constellations we know so well from our home skies is an interesting task, until the cold sends us scurrying back inside.

But, enough of the pontificating on the beauty of this place; what have we been up to?

Well, the Red Shed project is moving along at a swift pace. The new bar doesn’t seem too far off (plans are that it will be open for our midwinter celebrations which are only five weeks away) and we now have a floor where once there was an atrium over the wallow. The balustrade around and down the stairs has made a noisy and smelly appearance this week (thanks to welder Al who loves to make a noise, and make smells). And, although not as visible, Scotty T and Ben are making great inroads into the electrical and plumbing works.

The maintenance and mechanical teams just get on and do their never-ending list of tasks, fixin’ things and undertaking preventative maintenance.

We’ve also been turning our hands to maintaining the routes out to the field huts, making sure the cane lines are in place to safely guide us home in a blizzard (or at least every few kilometres to give us the reassurance that we’re on the right path).

We continue our training too. As the sea-ice travel season opens this week, we’ve revised our sea ice procedures to ensure all our expeditions out on the ice will be as safe as possible. We’ve also been learning new search procedures; the sound and light search technique which will help us find someone lost in the dark (quite useful as our dark hours are now so much longer than our light). Look out for next week’s news to see how our night time practice of this technique goes.

With a slight improvement of the weather we’ve had field trips out to the Wilkes Hilton and to Jack’s Donga. One to cook pizza over the fire and the other with the hopes of getting some great photos of the night sky away from the big lights of the station.

And then, in our spare time. What to do to break the monotony, when you can’t just go to the movies, out to a restaurant, watch or play a footy or hockey game? Well, someone decided we should turn to murder! See Catz’ story below.

My heart-rate is only just returning to normal now!

Rebecca (Casey Station Leader)

Assassins… putting an end to boredom

Creeping hesitantly down the unlit corridors. Lying in wait. Looking constantly over your shoulder. Jumping at any sound, particularly of footsteps or of a door opening. Becoming more paranoid minute by minute, if not second by second.

Welcome to the world of Assassin! As we move further into winter and the days get darker and darker, we are finding more unusual ways to entertain ourselves. When the game of Assassin was suggested, it was eagerly embraced with concerning enthusiasm. Expeditioners were armed with blunt kitchen knives and given the name of a ‘victim’ to assassinate. Safe zones were determined — workplaces, bedrooms, bathrooms and the Mess (during mealtimes) and plans were plotted in anticipation of a 0730 start the following day.

There was a flurry of activity in the minutes leading up to the start of the game, with expeditioners briskly making their way to their workplaces or getting in position to attack. With the first assassination of a half awake expeditioner occurring at 0734, the game was on. Over the next day and a half, expeditioners were picked off one by one. Assassins were everywhere — stalking their targets to learn their movements and plan their attacks, hiding in closets or empty rooms and lulling their targets into a false sense of security by pretending to be their allies. The atmosphere was tense as assassins attempted to make kills, whilst not getting killed themselves.

Expeditioners altered their routes to work, sneaking in through backdoors, sprinting down hallways and walking in groups of three of more to ensure safety. Every now and then, the noises of the typical work day were interrupted by sounds of a brutal kill and the high pitched squeals of their victim. Some victims panicked and froze when approached, others fought back and tried to escape, however were general run down and assassinated.  Allies turned on each other with resultant feelings of being ‘utterly betrayed'. No one could be trusted, everyone was vulnerable.

And then there were two left… two slightly tired, battle weary, very cautious and jumpy assassins, out to get each other (which only one of them knew). Thirty nine hours after it all begin the game was over, with neighbour stalking neighbour, neighbour locking neighbour out of their bedroom and bathroom and neighbour killing neighbour with significant delight and excitement.

With trust at an all-time high at Casey station, we look forward to our winter together, eagerly anticipating the arrival of new unsuspecting victims in six months time.

Winter is coming… Happy hunting!

Dr Catz (the Ultimate Assassin)

5 min with the 71st ANARE crew: Scotty ‘2 Dogs’ Clifford

Name: Scotty ‘2 Dogs’ Clifford

From: Hobart, sunny Tasmania

Previous seasons? 2013/14 summer/winter at Casey

Job title: Project Carpenter and Brew master

Describe your role in two sentences:

Mostly to help complete the carpentry, plastering and painting aspects of our major project this season, the Red Shed common areas refurbishment.

What did you do before you joined the AAD?

Worked as an Operations and Project Manager for a residential architectural building company.

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

Working in the warmth of the Red Shed in the middle of winter.

Also our chippy, plumber and sparkie group hugs throughout the day come close.

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

Perhaps a pilot or police officer, I’ve always enjoyed being a builder though.

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

Both this season and my last have been excellent. You meet so many great people and make lifelong mates.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Mostly watch a movie, listen to a few tunes, brew or socialise in the common areas.

What song sums up your Casey experience so far?

Slice of Heaven — Dave Dobbyn

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

Peter Griffin

Favourite piece of Australian Antarctic Division kit?

The spotters sunnies for summer but can’t go past the winter down jacket this time of year.

What is your favourite book and movie and why?

Book: Don’t read a lot of books but always been a fan of the Harry Potter series.

Movie: Does Game of Thrones count? If not then Saving Private Ryan (love a good Tom Hanks film).

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

Mostly country but also 70’s, 80’s and 90’s classics.

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

Sight: Vanderford Glacier

Smell: Years of penguin poo decomposing in the middle of summer and the wind blowing in your direction

Sound: Murdering of an 80’s power ballad on karaoke

Feeling: Summer heat then the cold depths of winter

Taste: Antarctic home brew and Saturday brunches (not together usually)

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

You want some dirty deeds, you want some dirty deeds done dirt cheap!