This week, as the nights lengthen and the wildlife departs, we get an update on the Red Shed refurbishment and meet Zach (Casey’s resident wildling).

Station update

It’s one month since the summer expos left us to our own devices for the winter. We mark the passing of time with long weekends (just love March), social occasions, and of course landmark events in the Red Shed refurbishment. See Nick’s report below for an explanation of the thinking behind the project and a summary of the progress to date.

Since our last update we’ve kept busy with more (and more) Search and Rescue training (a huge job to get everyone to the required level so we can feel safe and sound for the winter), lots of infrastructure work (fixin’ stuff and Red Shed refurb), and some great recreational activities — one last visit to Browning Peninsula this past weekend for some who hadn’t made it there yet (to see the elephant seals before they leave us for the winter); overnight visits to Jack’s Donga and to Wilkes, and a quick ski trip to Wilkes on Easter Monday to give a few some relief from cabin fever. An ungroomed rough track made it an interesting ski.

Easter celebrations culminated with the Casey Bunny Bar-Hop, a walking tour of the sites of Casey with themed beverages, music, outfits and activities. A great night, made even better by the full Easter moon. It rose brightly above the ice plateau’s horizon as the tour commenced with the evening’s weather balloon release, which was perfectly timed with sunset. A fabulous Antarctic moment.

Since the last edition of icy news, we have had the summer equinox. Now our nights are longer than our days. The rapid change is really noticeable as the time between sunrise and sunset shortens by about 8 or 9 minutes a day this far south; a visible reminder of the winter well and truly on its way (not to mention the drop in temperature). On a positive note, as we look towards ANZAC Day and the dawn service our dawn will be at 0837 hours, so quite respectable really.

The penguins must be feeling the onset of winter too; there has been a remarkable absence of our little black and white friends around station lately. With their moulting complete, they have left us (even despite the kind offer of a bathtub and cans of sardines to sustain them here with us through the winter).

Rebecca (Casey Station Leader)

The Red Shed report

The Red Shed Project 2018 was conceived as the logical next step in the upgrade of Casey’s capacity to deliver comfortable living and sleeping quarters for expeditioners. Whilst beds and services have come in for attention over the last few years, it was time to address the communal areas of the building — create convivial spaces, and address access and egress for the large numbers that will call the Red Shed home — the summer and winter teams, and those able to now pass fleetingly through with air transport. It will be the first time since the building was commissioned in 1988 that the communal areas have been addressed in such a major way.

The project was initiated in June 2017, beginning consultation, design approval and subsequent engineering and other professional input, then procurement and deliveries to station over summer via the Aurora Australis and RAAF C17. The centrepiece of the new works is the enclosing of the large void that currently exists over the main communal ground floor space aka The Wallow, to create a whole new first floor space.

Delivering persons to and from this space is a newly configured staircase. The staircase will link this first floor space with a new Cold Porch entry. The Cold Porch will be 10 times the size of the existing porch. It will achieve this floor area by absorbing two rooms within the building and then extending out beyond the line of the building. The new large first floor area will accommodate various configurations of seating and activities, and boast the best views northwards over Newcomb Bay and beyond to Clark Peninsula. The south side of this space will house a revamped library, quiet lounge and cardio room.

Adjacent to this space is the old Odeon Cinema, which will undergo some minor alterations, and an area previously occupied by the Air Transit Accommodation (ATA). The ATA function is no longer required and will become the new entertainment area. It will share the same splendid northwards views.

There’s a lot to do to achieve all this, and on the back of all the preparatory work, including that of the summer team, the winter project team has made a good start.

The first task was to establish easy access into the building for the volume of materials that would be passing in and out. Movement needed to be swift because of the low outside temperatures. A loading bay was the answer. The obvious available space for a loading bay within the building was a room set aside in the original construction as a hobby room. Some excellent products have come out of this room over the years, but the design calls for it to form part of a new large Entry Cold Porch. Hence, the front section of a standard shipping container was modified and inserted into the side of the Red Shed to form ready-made dock doors. Containers are loaded onto a trailer, backed up and unloaded, and in good time the dock doors can close against the weather.

Beyond the essential movement of materials associated with the project, the major construction elements to this stage have been in the new entertainment area and in the Wallow. The goods lift between the mess on the ground floor and the entertainment above has been installed, and as part of the commissioning we celebrated with drinks and nibbles delivered to that area by this means. Three of the five structural beams that form the support for the extended first floor over the Wallow are now in place. Stairs are next.

In the planning for these works much thought was given to the need to minimise their effect on general day to day life, as anyone who has lived through a major renovation of their own home will appreciate. These discussions continue on station, all recognising that the upkeep of the living spaces and the community’s sense of wellbeing is of paramount importance.

Here, it’s not often that you can easily go for walk around the block to get away…

A very satisfying start to the season. A lot achieved. Will update next month.

Nick (Building Services Supervisor, Winter Project)

5 minutes with the 71st ANARE: Zach Lockhard

Name: Zach Lockhard 

From: Cairns

Previous seasons? Nil

Job title: Instrument Electrician

Describe your role in two sentences: To do my best in putting the pieces of the puzzle together in problem solving for maintenance and improvement of station infrastructure.

What did you do before your joined the AAD? Instrumentation & Controls Technical Coordinator, based in the Northern Territory.

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

  • Watching icebergs change colour from a ghostly blue to deep purple to golden as the sun rises over the plateau during breakfast. 
  • Getting out of bed at silly-o-clock to watch an aurora
  • Working on some really advanced equipment
  • Showing photos and sharing stories with the loved ones at home.

If you were not an instrument electrician what would be your dream job? Engineering is the goal, however running a diving/surfing/spearfishing and freediving resort in the tropical South Pacific, eating fresh mangoes and avocados every day doesn’t sound too bad right now either.

What do you like to do in your spare time? Chat to my loved ones, momentarily defy gravity in the gym, read my book in the spa, chip away at my degree, pretend I know how to use my expensive camera, practice my penguin whispering, draw shapes with sparklers for someone special and a little bit of woodwork.

What song sums up your Casey experience so far? “Jack River – Ballroom”

What actor would play you in a film version of our 71st ANARE season here at Casey? At this rate, probably a wildling from Game of Thrones.

Favourite piece of Australian Antarctic Division kit?  Not much is going to send the fashion industry into havoc faster than the Frillneck Lizard sunhat.

What is your favourite book and movie and why?

Book: Fundamentals of Electrical Harmonics Engineering is really helpful with getting to sleep. 

Movie: The Mountain Between Us

What is your typical ‘Slushy FM’ genre? Do you have a particular favourite? Anything Triple J is the go to, so I usually throw in some Gang of Youths, Jack River, Sticky Fingers, Ben Howard, Kingswood, Holy Holy, Vance Joy, Kim Churchill, Ocean Alley, Jezabels, etc.

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

Sight: Blue icebergs, auroras, Milky Way, penguins playing and elephant seals basking in their own predefined glory.

Smell: Downwind of elephant seal haul-outs.

Sound: Icebergs shifting, grunting in the gym, bangers.

Feeling: The feeling of not feeling my extremities.

Taste: Nothing will ever beat sticky date pudding.

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

“You don’t try to build a wall. You don’t set out to build a wall. You don’t say ‘I’m going to build the biggest, baddest, greatest wall that’s ever been built.’ You don’t start there. You say ‘I’m gonna lay this brick as perfectly as a brick can be laid,’ and you do that every single day, and soon you have the biggest, baddest, greatest wall that’s ever been built.” — Will Smith

And a special message or two from Zach for his family:

“Massive congratulations to my sister and brother in law for their beautiful little girl”

“Thanks Mum for all the postcards, shortbread biscuits and calendar”

“Cheers Dad for the wood-turning chisels, I’ll do my best”

“Thanks Auntie for the hand-drawn cards adding some much needed colour to my room”

“Thanks Grandparents for your eloquently written postcards and words of wisdom”

“Stef — those Anzac cookies are unreal, so are the cards, happy 27th