The doctor gives us a rundown on her LSA team, a plumber muses on facial hair, and we share a secret.

Musings on facial hair

Facial hair is hair grown on the face, usually on the chin, cheeks, and upper lip region. It is typically a secondary sex characteristic of human males.

Men may style their facial hair into beards, moustaches, goatees or sideburns; many others completely shave their facial hair and this is referred to as being "clean-shaven". (See Wikipedia's page on facial hair.)

Throughout history, facial hair has come in and out of fashion, like the hackey sack, three quarter length pants, big brother and respiratory related illnesses caused by materials used in the building industry.

Even from a young age, children’s idols were proudly sporting some form of facial hair. From jolly old Saint Nick, to the Easter bunny and if you grew up in my house hold, then even the tooth fairy.

Here on Casey station and undoubtedly on most stations across this vast continent of Antarctica, there are the brave men, and women, that are making history! Setting fashion statements! And being an idol, to all those "clean-shaven" individuals that either lack the courage, the discipline or the testosterone to grow a sweet mo. So the story has gone thus far…

The 10th man discipline

The 10th Man discipline is one where the group intentionally appoints at least one person to serve as the loyal dissenter.

Today, I am that person. I don’t write this whilst caressing my smooth freshly shaven and lotion lathered baby faced cheeks, no. I’ve dabbled in the art of facial hair sporadically since my early teens and knew then that resistance was futile. I gave in to the hairy side in my mid 20s and now I know there’s no going back. I didn’t choose the bearded life… it chose me.

These are the things the facial haired ones won’t tell. Until now.

Beards are super warm! Until they develop multiple ice/snot stalactites from your upper lip all the way down to your knees! Then their thermal properties are out the window and they just become heavy… and a bit salty. We have issued buffs (a type of tubular scarf) that can eradicate the issue of needing to keep the face warm anyway.

Speaking of buffs, they’re great, in the first 4 seconds of putting them on. Then you say g’day to old mate in the cold porch and you’re instantly assaulted by a barrage of whiskers stabbing inside your mouth from every which way, treating your tongue like a pin cushion and even tickling your brain by driving your moustache up your nostrils. It’s really soothing…

Facial hair can be a fantastic filter, except it works in the wrong direction. It doesn’t filter what comes out of the mouth, which after adjusting a salty semi frozen buff for the 8th time in 45 minutes can start getting a fraction vulgar. But it does do one hell of a job filtering everything that makes the journey into the mouth, much like our good friend, the baleen whale.

But the fun doesn’t stop there, “filtering” is just step 1. Step 2 is a sensational game of hide and seek. And if your one lucky little bearded man, or woman, then step 3 is everyone’s favourite, tug-of-war. Real spectators game too.

So if it’s such a hassle to have a bit of facial hair, why not shave it off? There’s a few reasons and everyone has one, maybe two, maybe a whole bag full of reasons why they soldier on like they do.

Could be to hide the fact that under that goatee there is in fact no chin at all and all that hair is simply growing from the slither of skin that is directly below the bottom lip.

Could be a lazy factor - why shave or even trim once a week say, when you can just not.

Or perhaps it’s because slowly but surely the hair that was once upon a time on top of your head has migrated south and instead of being both bald/balding and clean shaven and have to look in the mirror each day and have an egg stare back at you, you’ve got some hair somewhere at least, for a bit of contrast.

My final theory is clearly the most obvious. People with facial hair make skipping down the hallways look tough, real tough! If you have a marmot fused to your face, then you sing that Spice Girl’s song at whatever octave you want, viva really is forever.

Stay hairy Antarctica.

Daniel Dardha, Casey Plumber

A Doc’s support on station

Down here in Antarctica, each doctor is assigned four people (termed ‘lay surgical assistants’ or LSAs) to assist us in case of emergency. As I am the only doctor over winter, it would be impossible for me to perform surgery and keep the patient asleep at the same time if it were required. I'd need some extra minds, eyes and hands! Unfortunately, the doctors have no say in who the LSAs are (I’m just kidding!).

The LSAs are selected from the Wintering team and participate in 2 weeks’ training at Royal Hobart Hospital prior to departure. This year, my team consists of 2 chippies/one Building Services Supervisor (Glen and Jimmy), a plumber (Dan), and a Bureau of Meteorology Observer (Jane). The first time I met them was to run through a scenario at the hospital, and they did great! We were being filmed at the time, so now we have Dan's infamous opinion on anaesthetics immortalised ("It's just fancy plumbing"). See the surgical tradies story.

We continue training together through the winter with scenarios and other hands-on activities that may be required in an emergency. Sometimes they help me out when I need a second set of hands such as when suturing or doing dentistry, or Dan helps me out with a beat on the drums in the band. If I’m lucky, I won’t need them for anything more serious!

Natasha Behrendorff, Station Doctor

Surprise guest

As part of our Midwinter celebrations we invite friends and people we admire to our winter feast. Knowing they can’t actually attend we expect an RSVP to keep us entertained on the night.

This year Casey scored an A-lister thanks to a certain chef who luckily for us counts him as a friend…