This week at Casey: 29 November 2019

This week, it’s time for a plant operators perspective and an eye on the sky.

A tale of plant operators in Antarctica

The season got off to a shaky start with a few flight delays but we made it to the icy coast safely.

With no time to waste we got into clearing snow from around the wintery station, beginning with areas destined to be used for projects and maintenance.

Access paths for expeditioners to get to work safely were first on the hit list with a few blizz tails stopping (or at least slowing down) the intrepid trades teams from getting to work.

Crane pads for projects came second, to ensure no delays from our side if projects were required to start early.

With those areas sorted, we needed to move onto the quarry. The quarry being where most containers on station are stored, and being nearly the lowest point, it was completely buried by snow. Moving the containers quickly moved up on the priority list as a few held equipment required by the summer trades.

Now vehicles with wheels don’t behave well in the snow, and seeing as Casey is on a snowy hillside, clearing roads around station took priority next. We began with the biggest of the internal roads that leads to the CUB (Casey Utilities Building), which also services remediation and the quarry. Within a few hours this mini monster was subdued, and it was business as usual for the wheeled machinery on site.

We lost one plantie (Rod) early in the season due to the fires back near his home. We were pleased to see him back on station with his home still intact and family safe.

To tackle the big beast of Wharf Road we enlisted the help of an old hand on station who is basically part of the furniture, Johan the great! With the mighty Macca away doing a cargo run to Wilkins, and new blood Alex holding down the fort around station prepping containers, we started on Wharf Road. Within one productive day we had the road pretty much beaten, a great partnership between remediation and planties. Day two of Wharf Road saw Rod return from the mainland and into the excavators seat and with another good day, finishing touches of the road, drain, and surrounding areas were completed including a nice smooth track for the fuel transfer being conducted in the days to come.

Over the coming weeks, the planties will be getting a head start on RTA (Return to Australia) container weighing, support for tank cleaning and general movements around station. A great team effort by all plantie members and our honorary plantie Johan. Thanks to the remediation team for letting him come out and play!


Four men on a snowy road with tall stacks of snow on either side of them.
The team responsible for the excavation of the wharf road at Casey.
(Photo: Nigel Howarth)
A yellow crane arm over a yellow skip bin filled with snow and a man wearing a blue jacket in front of the skip bin.
Sorting what’s needed for the summer
(Photo: Nigel Howarth)
Arty shot of the crane appearing to lift the sun
If it’s not tied down we move it
(Photo: Nigel Howarth)
An arty shot of a truck with the sun as cargo on the back
It’s not just containers we move
(Photo: Nigel Howarth)
An arty photo of the forks appearing to carry the sun
We'll move anything
(Photo: Nigel Howarth)
A crane moving a container around Casey with the cargo ready for the C17 in the background
De-winterising containers around Casey
(Photo: Nigel Howarth)
Johan Mets with the Casey wharf road excavated in the background
Johan with the finished wharf road in the background
(Photo: Nigel Howarth)
The plant operators in action digging out the wharf road in preparatioin for V2
Excavating the wharf road
(Photo: Nigel Howarth)

It’s a bird…no it’s a plane!

On Sunday we heard from the pilots on-board Qantas flight QF 2905 out of Adelaide as they approached Antarctica on one of their summer sightseeing flights over parts of the continent.

As it happened it was a stunning day here at Casey with not a cloud in the sky and temperatures up into the positive for a short time (0.2°C). With all the ice and snow around station and the edge of the east Antarctic ice sheet gleaming whitely it still looked suitably chilly — apart from the t-shirts and jandals (Ed note: AKA thong…flip flop…plugger).

Casey expeditioners outside the Red Shed trying to spot the Qantas flight last Sunday
Spot the plane
(Photo: Ben Keyes)
Expeditioners outside Casey’s Red Shed looking up at a Qantas plane in the sky
Following the flight path as the plane circles Casey
(Photo: Ben Keyes)
The Qantas plane in the sky above Casey
It’s a plane…
(Photo: Michael Keating Kearney)
The Casey expeditioners waving to the qantas plane outside the Red Shed at Casey
How many limbs can you wave?
(Photo: Michael Keating Kearney)
Dean A out on the sea ice near the Swain Group waving to the plane
Out on the sea ice near the Swain Group Dean waves to the plane
(Photo: Tanya Maddison)
The Qantas plane above the Red Shed taken from the wharf
12,000 ft above the Red Shed
(Photo: Chris Burns)