"Professor" Braiden Richards from Casey's prestigious mechanical department on the mysteries of the tradie ecosystem

Inside the jungle that is infrastructure

Plumbers, chippies and sparkies. What makes them tick? What makes them wake up every morning to fight blizzards, lay pipe, nail timber and test fire alarms?

I dove deep to solve these mysteries.

The Carpenter (genus "Chippie")

Carpenters are rarely seen in the wild; their numbers have dwindled down to just three over the winter. Their defining traits are their inability to travel medium distances except by vehicle, and their ability to dump blocks of frozen wood in your workshop to melt over the weekend.

After months of research, a chippie was located within the Casey Utility Building (CUB). Zack Mitchell, the youngest wintering tradesman in Casey history, was busy laying drywall along a staircase.

When asked what makes a chippie tick, Zack proclaimed: “Well mate, I hate to brag, but we are pretty much the utility of Casey station. Why do you think they named this place after us? It’s the 'Chippie Utility Building'. The walls, the doors, the very world in which you reside was made by my kind. You can trace my lineage all the way back to Jesus Christ.”

“Is that right?” I replied, remembering how chippies love to chat, and how trying to end a conversation with one is a full-time job in itself.

I found my chance and swiftly made my exit, and came upon the next trade: the revered sparkie, installing a cable tray with the greatest of ease. His name was Aaron Munro.

The Electrician (genus "Sparkie")

Now, the sparkie is a different breed. His phone is constantly abuzz with building monitoring system alarms, also known as messages from the almighty. For the sparkies are the instruments of the almighty, and must vigorously fulfill the almighty's demands lest the station loses power and heat. Their most notable behaviours are stalking the halls at all hours of the night waiting for the almighty to give them direction, and their dependency on a drink derived from a plant found in the Americas.

“Aaron, my good man, who is this person that has this hold over you? Making you walk the halls all night without rest?” I asked, cautious of the power he wields at his 240V fingertips, knowing he had not yet partaken of the drink that morning.

“It is no person, but a computer that dictates our lives. I must obey, for if I don’t, the power which keeps us all alive would surely fail, and our descent into darkness would be all too certain,” he responded with a twitch and a tremor.

I remained speechless a while. I had assumed the sparkies were only being straight up bludgers hanging around the source of the drink (a.k.a. the coffee machine), but I found out through my discussion with Mr Munro that it was the only machine on station that did not call for constant maintenance. To them, it was an emotional safe space from their computer overlord. I was filled with newfound respect for the sparkies.

The Plumber (genus "self-describes-as-handsome")

There are three plumbers on station, each possessing their own variant of power. Patrick Kinsella is fire bender and Lord of the Incinerator. Ben Callahan is muck bender, Lord of the Wastewater Treatment Plant and James Terrett (Terry) is water bender, King of Casey's plumbing, whose gentle hand guides the lesser lords within his realm.

“Terry, Your Majesty”, I said, “tell me how you do it. How do you carry the burden of this station's water supply upon your shoulders? Surely the stress would break a lesser man.”

“Yeaaaah mate,” he sang in sweet melody.

“ 'Yeah mate,' what does that mean?” I asked.

“Yeah mate”, he responded as I stared at him, absolutely perplexed.

Just as I began to question my own sanity, Ben Callahan walked in, with a pronounced “Yeah mate” of his own. Terry replied in kind at a slightly more frivolous pitch.

Then I realised. The plumbers have created a language that only requires two words. Two words which, depending on the tone, can convey a myriad of meanings. Is this a sign of evolution? Could this be the advancement of mankind?

I have to take this knowledge back home to Australia, but I’m afraid of what people could do with this information. For now, I will continue my endeavours to answer the great questions of Casey station.

Your wise and humble research mechanic, signing off -

-Braiden Richards