A busy week at Casey this week, with searching, measuring and feasting. We also meet Dom our barbarian chef (and station photographer) and Al our rigger / welder… Coincidently both New Zealanders, not sure how that happened?!?

Station update

Searching, measuring, and feasting this week at Casey.

What a busy week, the time has just flown as we’ve undertaken a hectic timetable of training, field activities (including our first hesitant steps out onto the sea ice for the winter), and a fabulous evening of feasting in the Casey ‘Castle’.

Searching. Our Search and Rescue (SAR) scenario, late last week, was highly successful. We had previously briefed the sound and light search technique which facilitates finding a conscious but immobile person lost in the dark; a set search pattern and routine conducted by each team using a combination of whistles and torches and looking and listening.

So, with the SAR alarm sounded our search teams were quickly assembled and sent out into the dark winter night to find our lost ‘victim’, Jason. Looking out across the station from the front of the Red Shed it was most satisfying to see the lights flashing and hear the whistles blowing down in the quarry and across Thala Valley towards the wharf. Within 30 minutes our lost person was lost no more; certainly proving the effectiveness of the technique in such circumstances. Jason was then bundled up, and returned to the medical centre, where Catz and her Lay Surgical Assistants (Patty, Al, Scotty and Macca) took the opportunity to move into a full surgical scenario. Jason dozed away while being prepped for an operation and then given a faux-splenectomy into the late hours of the evening.

All in all, a great opportunity to prove the effectiveness of our SAR and surgical teams as we move into our long winter where we need to be comfortable in our self-sufficiency.

Measuring. Casey’s sea ice is quite variable and less predictable than our other Australian Antarctic stations, so after watching and waiting with eager anticipation it was finally time this week to send the team out onto the ice to take our first measurements of the season. Pre-season measurements are conducted with dry-suits donned, roped up explorations with carefully judged steps, and the rescue-alive platform ready for rapid deployment should the lead person fall through the ice. No need for concern though, our access routes onto the ice around station have been measured and not found wanting. The thicknesses proved good enough for foot and quad bike travel, so the next step is to measure across O’Brien Bay and then, all going well, all the way to Robbos so that first sea ice route can be opened for travel. The opening of these routes for our expeditioners is a great thing, opening up our station operation area for further exploration and incredible experiences that can really only be had in Antarctica. Moving across the sea ice is a highlight of our Antarctic experience that everyone has been looking forward to.

And, so we come to the feasting. The fantastic props team of Casey station came to the fore this week to create a medieval castle banqueting hall for our feast on Saturday evening. When night fell a motley crew of lords, ladies, knights, vikings, peasants, barbarians and even a hunchback and a dragon moved across our drawbridge into a mess festooned with candles and heraldic banners to enjoy a fabulous meal prepared by Dom and our dieso scullery maids (in charge of the ‘rosted pigge’). After dinner, a knightly tournament of jousting was enjoyed by all… except perhaps by the loser of each round who spent a little time in the stocks to consider their poor performance.

Not really sure how we can improve on this for the midwinter festivities, but the props department and party planners are already concocting plans to surpass it for our key social event of the winter calendar. (Ideas welcome in return for an invite to join us!)

Winter really is coming… party planners prepare.

By Rebecca, Casey Station Leader

Al’s Antarctic Adventure

As a first time wintering expeditioner for the Australian Antarctic Division, I have been afforded many honours. I am hired as a rigger who specialises in lifting and shifting heavy and large objects. Living and working in the Antarctic with my fellow expeditioners is truly amazing.

As a small population of 26 through the winter months we each hold very important roles to keep our station running. We all attend extensive training prior to our departure to prepare us for life down south.

Training for my role consisted of training in: lay surgical, confined space, working at heights, loader, boating, and emergency response — fire, incident management and search and rescue.

Among all the training the lay surgical assistant course was a stand out for me. My role for the station doctor is that of Scrub/Scout. Being taught by the wonderful people at the Royal Hobart Hospital was inspiring and gave me confidence.

Highlights of my time so far are: flag officer role, being part of Dr Al and the Survivors [the Casey band], field survival training, search and rescue terrain familiarization in a DC3, sea ice cruise, Australia Day swim, resupply from the Aurora Australis, aerial artist for Miss Casey Pageant, Red Shed refurb, Two Dogs Brewing.

I encourage anyone contemplating a career with the Australian Antarctic Program to take the bull by the horns. The environment, the science and the people make it very special.

Message to my loved ones thanks heaps for the great support.

Many thanks also to our summer expeditioners — we miss you. 

By Allan Rose.

5 min with the 71st ANARE crew: Dominic Hall

Name:  Dominic Hall 

Nicknames: Dom

From: NZ

Previous seasons? 16/17 summer 

Job title: Chef

Describe your role in two sentences:

Feeding the troops, managing stock with Jason, baking birthday cakes.

What did you do before your joined the AAD?

Cooking at a ski resort in NZ

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

Having a huge modern kitchen to work in.

Getting out on the quads and exploring the surrounding area.

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


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

Totally different. Winter is an entirely different job to summer.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Photography, gym, yoga, read, field trips

What song sums up your Casey experience so far?

If I had a boat — JVM

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

Bill Murray

What is your favourite hut for field trips and why?

Browning. It’s the furthest from station and has the Vanderford.

Favourite piece of Australian Antarctic Division kit?

Sorrell Boots

What is your favourite book / movie (or both) and why?

Carving a Sky. Just finished it last night.

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

Blues or indie rock

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

Sight — Winter sunset in front of Casey.

Smell — nothing. My sinuses are shot from the lack of humidity.

Sound — 2Dogs Karaoke.

Feeling — Lucky to be here!

Taste — Morning Coffee

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

By endurance we conquer — Ernest Shackleton