The iconic Casey sign gets a much needed makeover

The Casey Sign Refurbishment Project 2020/21

One of the winter highlights for the 74th ANARE has been the refurbishment of the iconic Casey sign.

The seed for this project first entered my mind during the annual resupply operation. For a dieso, that means being heavily involved in the transfer of over one million litres of Special Antarctic Blend diesel. And so it was during a fuel transfer shift at the lower fuel farm that I first noticed the iconic Casey sign was ripe for a refurb.

After a bit of research, I discovered the Casey sign was originally constructed some 30 years ago – during the 1991/92 summer season. It had weathered the intervening years remarkably well, but was a bit overdue for a new coat of ‘International Orange’.

It was a bit of a race before the end of summer to ensure that we had everything we needed for the project to go ahead over winter. The process started with rounding up some of my fellow expeditioners, with the intent to take down the sign and move it indoors for the winter refurb. Our day 1 best laid plans were quickly demolished, with the ‘A-factor’ intervening to deliver a blizzard, forcing us to quickly abandon the sign and return to station.

Over the next few weekends, we finally managed to get all the letters safely inside and from there the hard work began. Many hours were spent removing the old paint with scrapers, sanders and wire brushes. Once that was completed, it was time for several layers of rust proofing paint. The final stage was a few coats of International Orange. The last few letters were a bit tense as the limited supply of paint left no room for error. The final coats went on just in time for our station photo, which we took with the newly painted sign.

It’s been an honour being able to refurb the sign and I can only hope it remains a beacon for Casey in the ensuing 30 years. I’d like to give credit to the original Casey crew who built it. I’ve been fortunate enough to track down a couple of the crew and have a chat. It was great to get in touch and hear about life down here in the ‘90s, particularly how some of the bumps and scrapes came to be on the sign. Turns out it blew over in its first blizzard! To the Casey sign crew of 1991/92, we say thank you:

- P Hooker (Hookie), K Healey (Kenny), D Low (Cyclone), R Sherwood (Shaggs), R Grice (Gricey) and S Kelly (Ned).

- Cam Hart (2021 Casey winter expedition mechanic).