October has arrived. This is the month that we go home. So much yet to do and so little time. The days left are disappearing rapidly.
Apart from the inevitable packing, preparing of cargo to return home with us, cleaning up the communal area and workspace, writing reports, and responses to numerous RFIs (requests for information) from the incoming team as they prepare to arrive; we’ve also had time for some viewing of the footy grand finals (both codes) — sad for some and joyous for others — and for some trips out and about.
A two night trip out to Robinson Ridge Hut (Robbos) to undertake the bird camera maintenance, prior to penguin arrival, on Odbert Island was a huge success. It gave ample opportunity for the field party to also explore the surrounding area via quad bikes on the sea-ice. However, despite looking very hard, there’s no sign yet of any seals or penguins in the vicinity.
For those uninitiated to the Antarctic Hut experience, there is the customary food item of the little known but widely appreciated Antarctic delicacy — the Fray Bentos steak and kidney pie. Basically a pie in a tin: remove the lid, reveal an uncooked pastry top, whack in the oven for 30 to 60 minutes (depending on the capability of the oven), and voila, an Antarctic legend is born.
As the opportunity for hut visits is quickly evaporating, this hardy group of expeditioners decided the time was right to sample this traditional food item. A first time for four of the five to do so, it just had to be done. And success! Who would have thought that a pie, in a tin, potentially many years old, could turn out so tasty and have such light fluffy puff pastry on top? So warm and hearty. No wonder it’s a hut tradition. Something that won’t be looked upon with such trepidation for future trips.
The runway is nearly ready up at Wilkins, the hut booking board is filling up as the team plans their final trips off station, and I think we can say we’re well and truly into the run-down period. As undeniable proof of that, we’ve commenced our psychological debriefs this week (just to make sure we’ll handle the return to civilisation after so long away) and the final expeditioner performance reports are being drafted. We even change to Eastern Australian Summer Time on Sunday… so summer really must be just around the corner.
Wish us luck for the psych debriefs, hopefully we won’t be deemed unsuitable for Return to Australia.
Rebecca (Casey Station Leader)