The first time I remember being aware of the Australian Antarctic Division I was 19. A friend had applied and that got me thinking that perhaps one day I’d put up my hand for the chance to travel south to the icy continent, a chance for adventure. At that moment in time I was yet to meet someone who had a very important role in making that happen. Less than two years later I’d met and fallen in love with Ellen. We spent the first year apart. Not long after we’d met, work and providence required one of us to move. I was to be the first. We lived in separate cities because the type of work we had at the time required routine relocations. It was a way of ensuring that staff received a chance to move upwards and to expose them to different opportunities. Try as Ellen would, her job couldn’t shift fast enough and so Ellen was the first to make a sacrifice. To bring us under the same roof, a promising career went by the way. Another career was soon started and together as a young couple we settled in.
Over the following years we moved across the country a couple of times for work. On the other side of Australia my job took me all over the country and several times on overseas deployments. I would run off on my exploits while Ellen worked on her career and did the hard yards keeping the home fires burning. After several years it was time for us to bring the pace down, move back across the country with our belongings to purchase a house and create a new home. We both spent the subsequent years forging our careers and enjoying our lives. The new job I’d happened into, enabled me to keep moving. I worked up and down the state on so many road trips. Ellen advanced her career and that too, required more travel. We’ve supported each other through tough times and enjoyed more than our fair share of good ones. Throughout the years a thought would occasionally pop back into my head and eventually it refused to leave. It kept on in my ear.
The itch from the thought of ‘what if...’ provoked me. The idea, from long ago, of heading to Antarctica demanded action. I carefully submitted an application online and crossed my fingers. I’d considered myself a chance but figured it was an outside one at that. I was stunned to be successful and after travelling a slightly unusual route, sit here today, at the Casey research station in Antarctica. The year has been a busy one for me. Even a quiet day here beats most usual days at home. I put that down to the energy coming from the team. It was welded together by the Australian Antarctic Division and then flown, in sections, to Casey by a chartered plane. They couldn’t fit that much excellence in one fuselage. Here it was reassembled and put to work. And play.
I’ve had the privilege of being part of that team. We do the things we do in life so often because of the support that we receive from those we love and those who love us. Thank you Ellen.
Most of my scheduled time here has passed, there is some more to go but not much. In the not too distant future I’ll be home again. I’m looking forward to sitting with Ellen on our back lawn, among the gardens, enjoying a drink in the hot summer sun. At least I won’t need a jacket for a while.
Justin Ross, Station Communications Technical Officer