Lesson 1: Expos Vs Wild
The bad weather-inducing capability of our fearless Station Leader KW seems to be wearing off as summer approaches, but it still hasn’t fully dissipated yet…
A long-awaited opportunity was presented to smash out all the burning tasks, before the flying season begins – repairing our long out-of-commission Browning field radio repeater and completing important science work at Peterson Island (penguin nest camera maintenance).
With Browning’s presenting some ‘decent’ weather the next morning (read: -15° to -20° degrees, totally overcast and only 10-20kn of wind!), the resilient team of five, including KW, headed up to the repeater site to crack on!
Over a solid half day on the freezing cold, exposed repeater site, lots of frozen blood and sweat was spent. The team spirit was what drove us to battle with blowing snow and chilling wind, while replacing the damaged solar panels, frame, radio repeater, batteries, solar charger, wiring etc. A shout out to you all! Despite his bad weather reputation, KW’s continuous supply of hot drinks did help us all to counteract his unwanted bad weather-inducing capability.
With that mission complete, we set off late in the afternoon for mission #2 – undertaking important penguin camera maintenance in support of science at Peterson Island. After diligently completing the required tasks, the team had the opportunity to visit a nearby memorial plaque and cairn commemorating the 1948 American landing at this location. A tough walk and long day, but a great experience all the same.
Lesson 2: Walk with someone with your own leg length…or else
Within our 74th ANARE winter team, the phrases ‘'jolly' king’ and ‘station doctor’ have become synonymous. So, it was not a surprise that Doc Tad once again hit me with a trip idea, to go see the baby seals one last time whilst their is still good sea ice to walk on, particularly given the poor history of the dynamic sea ice surrounding Casey station.
So, we headed down to Robbo’s hut to undertake a 14-kilometre walk, with half of the sea ice covered with a fair bit of snow. Not so good for me, the '‘jolly' king’ underestimated the thickness of the snow and decided to leave the snow shoes back in the Hägglunds…and I trusted him…(see the title of this paragraph). It was a hard walk, no doubt. But all the effort was worth it, as we encountered a small convoy of sixteen emperor penguins on the sea ice - a rarity at Casey. I was blessed with this surprise!
On a more serious note, big thanks to Tad this season for pushing me out of my comfort zone in hiking. He gradually invited me to go further, almost every time we went into the field. A great buddy, willing to take extra work gear for me when my knee was hurting. Mateship was observed, as well as his endless ambitions to get out to the field!
- Andy (2021 Winter Comms Tech)