A dispatch from a Casey Comms Tech on the station's skills and talents

Bread, coffee, salads, and ham radio

CQ CQ CQ, This is Victor Kilo Zero Whisky November at Casey Station Antarctica.

For many of us, the winter just past provided an opportunity to learn some new skills. Wander around the station and you'd find people occupied with diverse activities. For example: a group in the kitchen with chef Justin demonstrating his artisan craft of making sourdough bread. In the mess, our field training guru and coffee connoisseur Flynn presenting 'Zen and the Art of Coffee Making' with the aim of achieving the holy grail cup of coffee. In the library, a photography group with experienced photo shooters passing on their skills to newcomers. At other times, the Spanish class would be in there focussed on their online tutor Señorita Veronica.

Explore further around town and you'll discover a very silent group learning Auslan from instructor Brenden. Then, venturing out to the hydroponics building, chippie Zack explaining how to test and balance pH levels for growing our fresh salads. The list of tuition goes on, apologies to those I missed.

Apart from learning new skills, many pursued crafty work, like Dr Dee churning out beanies while sitting by the bay window taking in the Antarctic landscape, or watching old and new movies in the Odeon such as Top Gun and Maverick. Others took to giant Lego creations like the Imperial star destroyer or a remote controlled bulldozer. The latter was built by chief mechanic Shane, who even demonstrated it outside in the snow. Other people would simply find a comfortable spot to hang out and dive into a book.

My passion is amateur radio. After I arrived at Casey, the hobby hut was quickly pointed out to me as an ideal ham shack location. Turns out previous hams have used it as well! The hobby hut is a workshop available for recreational users and is set up well for woodwork activities and the like. The warm atmosphere inside and scent of timber offcuts make it a very cosy hangout. After settling in at Casey, I eventually rigged up my radio and started calling on the shortwave bands. There is something odd about hams trying to get to very remote places, then being desperate to make contact with home or other locations around the world. Anyway, to date I've made nearly 600 contacts, about half to Australia and half to 40 other countries. Contacts vary from being a brief exchange of callsigns and signal reports, to extended chats or "rag chewing" going for an hour or so. Certainly a hobby that I enjoy, especially when curious people join me in the hut.

That's a quick rap for this week. Signing off and going QRT, 73 de Warren VKØWN