The milestone month of May, a birthday bonanza!

A milestone on the ice

If you were to ask me a couple of years ago what I would be doing on my 30th birthday, I would have answered with something along the lines of sailing through Indonesia or road tripping through Mexico in search of warm water waves and living the boardshort life. Fast forward to 2023 and here I am celebrating my 30th birthday at Casey station, Antarctica, and although it is the complete opposite of my tropical surfing trip dream it is one hell of an adventure none the less. Being a bit of a milestone birthday, it was always going to be tough not being able to spend it with my girlfriend, family and friends back home, but my Casey family put together a day that I will remember forever.

The day kicked off with a surprise present waiting in the wallow of our main living quarters the Red Shed — a plywood surfboard with a cartoon drawing of me from our local artist and sculptor Jacko. Jacko being the joker he is, it came with a set of instructions stating that I must carry this surfboard with me at all times throughout the day until 6pm, or there would be severe consequences. Rules being rules and not really wanting to find out the punishment if caught without it, I carried it around with me all day. I was also gifted with a selection of amazing hand-crafted presents from my fellow expeditioners; receiving something handmade and personalised you know it’s come from the heart and that really means a lot.

We don’t need much of an excuse to have a party and a good time here at Casey, so with a string of birthdays in May including myself and SMS Nick turning 56 on the same day, the social committee put together one hell of a celebration for us. The night kicked off with an amazing Japanese Tapas feast prepared by our chefs Claire and Rocket, with help from lots of volunteers. This was followed by a huge six layer cake loaded with caramel whipped cream, chocolate cream, fudge sauce, more caramel, tim tams, chocolate bars and other tasty bits. After the formalities (which involved some out of tune singing) we had East Antarctica’s best and favourite band ‘Quads, Dogs and Beer’, a four-piece melting pot of 70s rythym and blues, putting funk and soul into some absolute classics. The band features our fearless senior field training officer Sean on lead vocals and Hendrix-esque guitar, BoM observer Clare on vocals, chef Rocket slappin’ the bass and Bullseye Billy (a plumber in his spare time) holding it all together on the drums up the back while also singing vocals. The band had the whole of Splinters bar rocking and dancing and there wasn’t a person in sight that didn’t have a big cheesy grin on their face.

For me this night sums up my time at Casey pretty well. It has been such a fantastic experience, and it is the people here that have made this experience so great. It has been almost 6 months for me down South and I have already made many lifelong friends and memories.

A few other highlights of the season so far have been cruising around Newcomb Bay in IRBs both during station refuelling ops and recreationally. This was some much-needed saltwater therapy for me. I think this is the longest period I have ever gone without being in or on the ocean. There have been numerous field hut trips, each one a unique experience filled with good vibes, wildlife, sunsets and sunrises, auroras and the sheer beauty of the Antarctic landscape. Becoming part of the SAR team and being appointed deputy SAR leader has been a great opportunity and I’m really enjoying learning new skills and progressing in this role. Just this week we started some exciting new training on the sea ice, which has recently become thick enough to walk on. There is something special about walking on frozen water and there is going to be some great walks to be had over the coming months on the ice. All in all, I’m really grateful to be here in Antarctica, and I look forward to my next adventure on the ice.

- Brad Jackson (chippy)