Birthday reflections from an old Met-Tech

50, not out...

The month of May saw us celebrating 11 birthdays here in the festive surrounds of Casey station. That’s almost a third of the wintering contingent, and kept our two amazing chefs very busy with the additional culinary tasking…so many cakes! There was no relaxing as the month of May drew to a close however, as my own milestone was clocked up – a solid half century at the crease.

On my 30th birthday I was at the helm of a dived submarine, for my 40th I was flying a remote submersible in Bass Strait, but I never imagined I would be in Antarctica for my 50th. While my daughters have probably always seen me as 'old', for me this event is a bit hard to grasp and has led to the inevitable contemplation of what has happened so far, and what do I want to achieve in the second spell? My parents have always supported, and even encouraged me to choose ‘the road not taken’, and I had believed that this was what I had done. However, surrounded by the calibre of human that inhabits Casey, I realise that I have barely scratched the surface of this amazing planet and all the adventures it holds. Obviously we can't do it all, but we can have a good crack. It is an inspiring place to spend a year.

So is this the stereotypical mid-life crisis, or an acknowledgement of just how important it is to make the most of life, and to strive for the enduring satisfaction of challenging yourself and succeeding? Definitely the latter I believe. Through my working life in the Navy and the oil and gas industry, I have become accustomed to what some may consider harsh and remote places, from Angola to the Arctic Circle, but this place is something else. Winter darkness is descending on us here, and the daylight is brief. As I pen this reflection a 150km/h blizzard howls past the mess window, as it has done for the last 20 hours or so… but it’s beautiful, and I love this place. There is comfort here in the shared experience, and we have become a family through it. I need more of this.

We have at least five more months before we are reconnected with the world, so I have plenty of time to narrow down the next adventure, and plenty more stories to hear from my fellow expeditioners that will guide me down that less travelled path. In the meantime, it seems that there is always something to look forward to here. The next event being Midwinters Day, and a dip in the refreshing water hidden under the sea ice bordering the station! Never too old, right…

Back to the crease to put a few more runs on the board.

Bruce Dening