Fun and games at Casey station

We’re going to Bunger Hills…

On January 24th, Alex and Louise, two of the Bureau of Meteorology forecasters working at Casey station for the summer, were fortunate enough to fly out to Bunger Hills in the Twin Otter and spend the day there learning about the local weather to increase their knowledge and improve their forecasting skill of the region. Travelling out there with them were AGSO Dave and Plumber Billy to do some work on the camp being set up at Bunger Hills.

After the morning briefing where the pilots (Doug and Joe) decided the conditions were appropriate for flying, the aviation crew along with Dave, Billy, Alex and Louise headed up to Casey Skiway in a Hägglunds to prepare and board the Twin Otter for their 2-hour flight to Bunger Hills. Despite the chilly morning and some cloud at the skiway, conditions were forecast to be good en-route with mostly clear skies and light to moderate winds.

The flight out there didn’t disappoint. With clear skies, the views out the window were spectacular. The route followed the coastline for the first part of the journey, before heading more inland over the continent and experiencing the vast expanse of ice that is Antarctica. Upon arrival at Bunger Hills, the visiting crew were warmly greeted by the team that have been based out there since December.

After some lunch, a cuppa and a catch up, Dave and Billy got to work on the camp, while Alex and Louise explored the camp and region in more detail and had conversations with those who had been living at Bunger Hills for the last two months about how reliable the forecasts had been, and where there was room for improvement. Since weather observations are taken out at Bunger Hills that are used to assist in producing a forecast, it was also good to see where there were obstructions (i.e. hills) in the area that were blocking full visibility of the clouds and potentially affecting the accuracy of weather observations.

During the visit, the Basler pilots also dropped by to deliver fuel drums and a few other bits and pieces for the crew and after a quick chat, headed back to Casey station. After another cup of tea and some more conversation, it was time to do the same. Dave and Billy remained at Bunger Hills overnight as they had further work that needed to be completed.

The flight back to Casey Skiway was just as special as the flight in. The team were able to view more of the Bunger Hills region from the air before heading back toward Casey. Flying overhead Casey just prior to decent to the skiway was a great opportunity to see the place we have all called home for the summer from the air, and how small it looked with the backdrop of the continent.

– Louise Carroll; Bureau of Meteorology Forecaster

Connections at Casey

A rhythm occurs when enough time is spent at an Australian Antarctic station. That rhythm consists of breakfast, followed by another three cooked meals with some important work in between. They do say the first line of defence against the cold is to have a full belly.

After the last meal of the day is done and the kitchen is packed up, expeditioners keep busy with all sorts of social events and because the sun never sets in the summer, we’ve got plenty of daylight available. Over the last few weeks, a round-robin competition has been underway, comprising of darts, pool and table-tennis with the finals being played on Australia Day. There was a buzz of excitement for the people who were working their way up the ladder and the finals generated a large crowd of people to witness the champions of each category.

In addition to the round robin competition are always additional groups gathering for other activities on station including:

  • Arts and craft mystery box – the multi-talented Dean Ahern hosts weekly arts and crafts round tables with all welcome.
  • Casey talks – where stories are shared about the scientists and specialised expeditioners showcasing some of their work and exploits, including daring trips to far flung parts of the world scaling mountains and most recently, something about paragliding (thanks Gemma!)
  • Spicks & Specks night at Bunger Hills – where David Knoff – leading the bearded team – stomped home to victory with their in-depth knowledge of a wide range of music and trivia as part of the Bunger Hills edition of Spicks & Specks.
  • Sea Shanty choir – drink up me hearty’s, YO HO! The station boasts a cohort of unknown (even to themselves) seafarers belting out numerous shanty’s and dirges at volumes bordering on offensive!
  • Auction night – we are all looking forward to parting with our hard earned cash for various charities as all manner of home made treasures are auctioned off at the upcoming auction night.
  • Boxing classes – Dean Ahern will soon be able to boast coaching and discovering the next golden gloves or Lionel Rose on the Australian amateur boxing circuit, with many participants turning up every morning to sweat out a training session in the green store. The 0545 start time has proven too much for some though…

Other groups will often gather in a comfy corner playing guitars and singing while others might be playing a game of cards. Another group might be working on a 4000 piece jigsaw puzzle, while another group is watching a movie in the Odeon.

Life is not dull on station and there are plenty of laughs to be had with fellow expeditioners.

Live life well.

Billy Merrick, Casey station Plumber