"This is a brief life, but in its brevity it offers us some splendid moments, some meaningful adventures" - ‘Kim’ Rudyard Kipling (1901).
I am six weeks into a year-long deployment to Casey station, and I have already exhausted all of the seemingly inadequate adjectives available to describe this frozen paradise. It really is a challenge to convey the beauty of Antarctica. I have resorted to ending any correspondence with the simple truth, “I am a lucky man”.
Life here is busy, very busy, but we have a great crew here at Casey, and a proactive leadership team that endeavours to maximise the opportunities for all of us to experience life outside of the Station Limits. For me personally, this has resulted in some of the most memorable days of my life, including a trip to the Adélie colony near the old Wilkes station to assist with scientific specimen collection (not whole penguins).
The colony consists of tens of thousands of breeding pairs of Adélies, and on my visit I was privileged to bear witness to the arrival of new lives. While most adults were still incubating eggs, there were many cute little grey chicks, mostly in pairs, very audibly demanding freshly ‘prepared’ krill. I watched a newly hatched chick being welcomed to the world by two proud parents, mirroring each other in a swaying dance above the ball of fluff. Male Adélies criss-crossed the colony, stealing the best pebbles from each other’s nests in order to build the most impressive home for their partners. All of this, and I glance up to be greeted with a glassy, golden, iceberg covered sea. To be immersed in the purity of life in this land is just quite unbelievable…I am a lucky man.
My job as a Technical Officer (Met-Tech) with the Bureau of Meteorology has also provided me with opportunities to visit remote sites, where we have Automatic Weather Stations installed. A trip to a remote camp at Bunger Hills on New Year’s Day provided me the opportunity to get up close to my favourite airplane, fly over several glaciers, spot seal colonies, and observe the mind-blowing emptiness of this continent…but that’s another story.
Bruce Dening, Met-Tech – Casey Station