As the end of Summer has come we hear what it’s like to live and work at the Wilkins outpost and have our last 5 minutes with a summer expeditioner, Wayne.

Station update

As I write this update, the sun is setting on our summer and winter is upon us. Today we have seen the last of our summer crew depart. There were fond farewells, contact details exchanged (Facebook friends made), and even a few tears as the 32 people who have been our family for the past four months flew out of Wilkins on the last flight for the season.

It has been an extremely busy and successful summer and we, the 26 winterers who remain (four still left up at Wilkins) pass on our heartfelt gratitude to the departing team for all their hard work, their great company, and their sense of humour. We hope to see many of you back on that first flight at the start of next summer (8 months from now).

As a farewell to the summer team, I thought I’d give a short summary of what we have achieved this season at Casey station.

  • We have received 18 inter-continental flights and 24 intra-continental flights.
  • We have had over 225 people on station (that amounts to approximately 30 inductions and 200 beds made and sets of sheets washed).
  • We've alternated between hotel, tourist site, cargo facility, construction site, airfield, operational wharf, restaurant, and training camp.
  • We've had six major science projects underway on station, all of whom have been able to tick off their key priorities for the summer. This has all been with the support of a great operations team (Operations Coordinator, Aircraft Ground Support Officers, Communication team and Bureau of Meteorology) getting aircraft, helicopters, boats and vehicles all out and about safely and often at the same time.
  • We've received on station and entered into operation our new bus, ‘Terry the Terrabus'.
  • The East Wing of the Red Shed (Living Quarters) is now complete with the first residents in from 9 December.
  • A stop/start resupply of Voyage 2 eventually successfully pumped ashore nearly 1 million litres of fuel, discharged our cargo for the remainder of summer and our winter, and filled up with RTA (Return to Australia cargo) before (thankfully) finally departing.
  • The maintenance team has dealt extremely effectively with a number of unexpected (and unpleasant) breakdowns, conducted the Main Power House shutdown without a blip, and worked tirelessly on weekends and out of hours to ensure the power was on, we had water for showers, and our waste was treated.
  • The project team started off in the East Wing and Casey Utility Building, has worked on the lower fuel farm bund sealing, lots of fuel line works (some planned and some unplanned) and of course (very importantly) has relocated the brewery to make way for the red shed refurbishment which is to occur over winter.
  • The training has continued all season, successfully getting us all ready for the Antarctic environment and giving some of us our best times here (in chip packets and the field huts).

I am wary of listing all, because I've likely missed out something wonderful which has been done, please forgive me if I have. We have, and do, appreciate each and every contribution made at Casey over the summer.

For our departing summerers, we wish you well, we thank you for your incredible efforts, for the friendships made, and the good times we've had together. I hope the experience has been overwhelmingly positive.

On behalf of the wintering team, we are looking forward to some peace and quiet, some time for that quiet contemplation of the Antarctic wilderness which everyone has promised us (if only we’d had time to stop and think over the past four months). But in turn, ‘parting is such sweet sorrow'; we've made some lifelong friends who will be leaving us for exciting adventures which we will have to live vicariously through Facebook and Instagram posts. But the 26 of us left at Casey for winter will survive, we look forward to a wonderful winter, and we will all be here waiting for you next October.

Fair winds and following seas.

By Bec J, Station Leader

Wilkins’ summer

The end of summer is fast approaching which means a busy flight schedule for those of us living at Wilkins. With some bad weather sticking around this week it will be challenging to have the runway prepared for all of the Casey crew that are eager to get home. I’m sure we can get it done with a small break in the weather. (Note from Ed: they did!)

For me personally it has been a pretty incredible time living here so far. I’ve been lucky enough to have some return offenders here to teach and pass on knowledge about building and maintaining an ice runway in such a remote location. The runway is 70km from Casey station and with only eight people living here I have been pleasantly surprised just how well everyone has become good friends. Every 8 or 9 days we make the journey down to station to pick up more fuel and food supplies. The trip takes about 4 hours but in good weather it’s quite a nice drive and it’s always good to catch up with the Casey crew.

In some of our spare time we were able to build an igloo which was quite an experience. With loads of enthusiasm and no previous igloo building expertise we started building. On our days off, when we were able to get outside and then even spending a few hours after work cutting, shaping and placing blocks layer by layer until about four weeks later we finished. It turned out really well and was loads of fun to build.

It’s not long now until we say goodbye to half of our crew, which will mark the end of my first summer on the ice and I can’t help but be excited about what winter will bring us.

By Greg Millner

5 min with the 71st ANARE: Wayne Phillips

Name: Wayne Phillips

From: Woodburn Northern NSW

Previous seasons? 2011/12 Macquarie Island

Job title: Plumber (Projects)

Describe your role in two sentences: Install new infrastructure associated with all things plumbing on station

What did you do before your joined the AAD? Plumbing supervisor on a hospital redevelopment

What is your favourite part of your job here at Casey? Working alongside a talented group of tradies and assistants (Matt Mckay)

How does this season at Casey compare to your previous seasons down south? First time in Antarctica

What do you like to do in your spare time? Play pool and darts

What song sums up your Casey experience so far? Hard Sun — Eddie Vedder

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

Favourite piece of Australian Antarctic Division kit? Beanie

What is your favourite book and movie and why? Not big on reading and any movie by Quentin Tarantino

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

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

Sight: Vanderford Glacier

Smell: Communal bathroom

Sound: Hum of power house

Feeling: Tiny

Taste: Sunday brunches

Do you have a favourite quote that you’d like to leave us with? Such is life – Ned Kelly