This week at Casey we report on what is happening up at Wilkins and Early asks what's next

What's happening at Wilkins

And so it came to be that yet another week had passed by at Casey station.

The days growing longer currently with a grand 7 hours and 24 minutes of sunlight, sunrise is currently 0901, and sunset 1625. While the longer days are a welcome change from the dark depths of an Antarctic winter, time seems to be flying by currently with only a few weeks left until the four Wilkins team leave station to set up the Wilkins buildings and construct the ice runway.

While closed between March and September, Wilkins Aerodrome is winterised between April and August, but outside of that operates as a field camp. Located around 70km away from Casey, the sastrugi and icy conditions making the trip a four-hour drive one-way on a good day. Once Dane, Glenn, Sam and Matt leave Casey, they will live at Wilkins until the first flight of the summer season (scheduled late October) with a trip back to Casey each few weeks for supplies.

As such, this week the team is busy preparing equipment, loading gear and packing supplies. A few recent trips up there to deliver some equipment show that the snow build up on the blue ice surface is minimal. However, the snow build up inside some of the winterised buildings is a different story.

What's next

As another week here at Casey station rolls past we are left trying to figure out where the past nine months have gone, like a blink we are already half way through August and the light at the end of the tunnel is really shining through. There is always a lot happening on station, with heaps to keep everyone busy.

Next week will see the initial start-up of the Wilkins Aerodrome which will deliver our replacements come the end of October. Building an ice runway in Antarctica is no easy task, but hopefully everything goes smoothly and we can have a successful end to our season and return to a world of face masks and social distancing.

We also have a requirement to go and maintain the automatic weather stations (AWS) doted around Casey, these will require a couple of deep field trips to Law Dome. With the shakedown hopefully happening this week, we will have a chance to head roughly 8 hours from station and camp for two nights at Law Dome while doing some much needed repairs to the AWS. A lot of time has gone into the planning of the traverse so we are looking forward to heading off station on a nice camping trip.

With the end of August soon approaching, the conversations on station are slowly turning to home with people discussing plans, trips and having fresh fruit again. The fruit of choice at present is pineapple. A lot of people had planned on traveling around but this seems a pipe dream at the moment with the world seemingly falling apart and border restrictions actually being a thing.

With the winter coming to a fast close, you have to take the time to enjoy the beauty of this incredible place. Walking to and from work while watching the sun travel across icy landscapes, ice-bergs and bays of sea ice will soon be a fond memory. We can’t sit back and smell the roses but the alternative is pretty special.

Nathan Earl, Casey Electrician