Changing of the guard at Casey research station

Final Station Update — A Love Letter to Casey

This is the final Icy News Casey Station Update from myself and the Casey 71st ANARE crew. Our handover is complete and we are now obsolete. The new team, led by Chris MacMillian, have been fabulous and are now ready and raring to go and to leave their mark on the station. We wish them all the best in their endeavours. May their year be as positive and productive as ours has been.

I couldn’t go this last time before writing one final love letter to Casey. For those who may have read any of the previous Icy News Station Updates of this past year, I hope you have ‘picked up what I’m puttin’ down’. Casey is a truly spectacular and special place and it has been an adventure of a lifetime to call her home for the past 368 days.

Casey will always have a special place in our hearts. We’ve forever been changed by the experience of living and working on Wilkes Land amongst the Windmill Islands of East Antarctica. If you see us back at home suddenly stop mid-sentence with our eyes glazed over as we stare off into the distance we’re likely back on the ice with our Casey family.

Remembering the view over Newcomb Bay, from the windows of the RedShed, of the icebergs in the distance being lit up by the rising sun; or listening for the hum of the power house or the distant squawk of the penguins; or our taste buds are watering for the maltiness of 2 Dogs Homebrew or Dom’s curries, or the crunch of multitude cucumbers from hydro. Or, we might pause as we enter a room of people, hoping that when we turn the corner it will be to arrive in the mess where we’ll see the 26 familiar faces that we’ve come to know so well over these past months of enforced closeness.

Ahh, those faces. How I will miss them. What a wonderful bunch of people to have shared such an experience with. It has truly been an honour and privilege to lead you through this past year and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your hard work, laughter, support, friendship and trust.

Just over a year ago, I spoke at the Hobart Lord Mayor’s reception for opening of the Antarctic season. In that speech I quoted the opening paragraphs of Sir Hubert Wilkins’ biography by Simon Nasht:

Looking down from the well-trodden trails and peaks first claimed by others, we feel a mixture of awe and envy at the achievements of the past century’s great explorers, the “last of the first”. For they, unlike us, had the unknown ahead of them, challenges that tested the limits of human endurance and courage… These few removed the last corners of terra incognita from the maps and from our imaginations… one after another they conquered the poles, climbed the highest mountains, and mapped the last land. Many tried, a handful succeeded… Ultimately these were men of action, driven by a curious mix of ego, courage and duty.

At that time, I said that I would like to think that this latest group of expeditioners, the Casey 71st ANARE, were following in the footsteps of those great explorers, and, like them, we were also men and women of action.

If you have followed along with us this past year, I hope you will agree that we have been just that.  Men and women of action, driven by a curious mix of ego, courage and duty.  Good job.

Rebecca (Casey SL Rtd.) 

Following is a collection of our favourite photos from the year… 

RedShed Report — End of Season Wrap Up

It was a big moment in the diary of this refurbishment when the old staircase was removed.

For thirty years, Australian Antarctic expeditioners had moved up and down its run of terrazzo steps and landings. Now, there was now a gaping hole. No going back, we joked…

Five weeks of steel fabrication later and we had a new first floor and a new set of stairs connecting it to the ground.

These are the two main elements of the refurbishment works.  Coupled with a concept for a new arrival porch, the aim was a design that addressed the access, egress and amenity of the RedShed’s communal spaces.

It’s very exciting to now be living within and using this reworked communal space. The community appears to have absorbed it, and taken it to heart. It’s not unusual for someone to comment on the difficulty of remembering the original layout of the building.

And it has been important to advance the works to where they now are. All changed surfaces are in place — finished in some areas, rudimentary in others. But the overall effect is there, and the intention for those areas as yet unfinished is apparent.

The design for the new arrival cold porch is yet to be fully realised but has been made functional for this summer season’s expeditioners.

To facilitate this, the original entry was enlarged and made into a dedicated Fire Team Cold Porch. It houses the turn-out gear and BA equipment for the rostered teams. This freed up a cold porch to be amalgamated with a neighbouring space and mark the start of what will become a 44 square metre arrivals porch, complete with WC and unprecedented amount of storage for clothes and boots.

It was important to enable at least the beginnings of this new Entry for this season to fully realise the flow of movement that is the essential part of the new interior. As a by-product, it is timely to habituate new expeditioners to this new pathway. And hopefully RE-habituate the Ol’ Guard who no doubt will have a thing or two to say about having to walk a changed route to the Mess! Ah, what creatures of habit we are. The works have at times had to walk the line of what is ‘tradition’ and what is just old habit.

And there is colour in the new work.

The sensory deprivation that is this Antarctic environment (magnificent and sometimes overwhelming for being so) is challenged by station smells and sounds and now — colour. Bold colour on the walls around us and in the carpet beneath our feet.

The task of Project Manager and then Building Services Supervisor for the primary stage of this RedShed refurbishment has been a wonderful ride. The support given to the project was bold, intelligent and constant. By essentially relying on the ‘end-users’ of this Station to inform the design, it feels like it will work well into the future.


Nick Cartwright
Project Manager/BSS
Casey Winter 2018

72nd ANARE team arrives

On Wednesday 24 October the first members of the 72nd ANARE for Casey Station departed Hobart on an Airbus 319 for Wilkins Aerodrome, located about 70km from Casey. The flight carried 35 of the Wilkins Aerodrome and Casey Station team members to begin the 2018–2019 season.

For many of us, it was our first time seeing the great white continent after arriving on the Airbus. It was an extraordinary experience. For those of us that were returning, the clear skies and almost still, sunny conditions were a welcome greeting back to the Antarctic. We flew in with a good view of the ice shelf, followed by a gentle landing on the 3500 metre ice runway. Yes, the brakes really do work on ice! We then travelled for three hours on ‘Terry’ the Terra Bus to Casey, crossing the Antarctic Circle and downhill to the Station and the views over Newcomb Bay.

The current team, the 71st ANARE — led by Bec — provided us a warm welcome to their Casey home and made sure the station was in good shape and ready for the new season and year ahead. Our team hit the ground running, learning the nuances of Casey station as we prepared for the formal handover on Saturday evening. The week included fire drills, technical handovers of all Station duties, and a few other surprises to keep us on our toes. 

The Station Handover was a really nice event, with a fitting blizzard blowing outside, and it was great to be able to celebrate the special occasion with the departing expeditioners.

I want to thank Bec and her team for everything and wish them a safe trip home and a wonderful reunion with family and friends.

I am privileged to be the 72nd ANARE Casey Station Leader of such an outstanding team and we look forward to sharing with you our year ahead.


Chris MacMillian