Departing the remote Wilkins Aerodrome for the big smoke of Casey station

Wilkins crew assimilates to station life

The final passengers are boarding the A-319, the last flight of the summer season has lifted off the runway and cleared Wilkins Aerodrome, and the sense of wintering finality is settling in.

Now the next phase for the Wilkins crew begins...

YeeeHaaa! Lets kick this mule!

Pack down starts as soon as the AirBus is out of emergency return range.

Flags are whipped off poles in record time, poles are coming out of the glacier like candles on a cake, ERT trailer is backed into a container like a finger in a glove, wind socks and sleds are lowered and packed away quicker than my Old Man would have the Christmas tree down on Boxing Day, this is no time for mucking around, we are outta here!

I heard whispers that this was the quickest Wilkins packdown in history, and I wouldn’t deny it, we were a cohesive well oiled machine, nothing could stop us, personally I’d liken it to Mozart but in heavy machinery. There was a party on down at Casey the coming Friday - we weren’t about to miss it.

It wasn’t all the Wilkins Crew, there was a fantastic team of Casey tradespeople who came up and worked through all the nitty gritty but necessary tasks that come with the winterising of the camp. Chippy’s making sure our doors would seal up properly for the next 4 – 5 Months, electricians isolating power, testing and tagging, plumbers purging water lines so they wouldn’t burst and possibly the worst job - the smelly grease trap cleanout!

We were very glad to have a great team who weren’t afraid to have a crack and get the job done.

I felt quite sad leaving our home away from home, we’d been at Wilkins since early November ’22 and due to the enormity of the snow clearing task we’d inherited there wasn’t much time available for station trips other than to replenish fuel supplies and enjoy the big Christmas + Australia Day public holidays so we had become quite happy in our little camp environment.

But here was our chance to get down to station and make it our new home for the next 4 – 5 months.

We didn’t stay long, two days in at Casey and we were already due for another taste of isolation! Straight out to Brownings Hut for a few nights was just what the doctor ordered. We were lucky enough to make it out there before all the Elephant seals left the northern wallow for the winter so that was certainly a highlight of our visit.

All in all, it hasn’t taken us long to settle in with the Casey team. We have got the most incredible group of people on station here so the laughter and silliness we had fostered in our team up at Wilkins was a welcome addition to the Casey cohort.

This is also a fantastic segway into the latest successful event the social committee has recently run. Lochie and myself had plenty of time for brainstorming fun and inclusive social ideas to bring to Casey from Wilkins (we had no internet so the thinktank power at Wilkins is next level!).

So a charity Jag the Joker and Friday night Meat Tray Raffle was born!

People asked us, why a meat tray in Antarctica? What will you do with it? Well, the answer was simple: Who doesn’t love winning a meat tray! And what will you do with it? Cook it to your personal liking obviously!! Thank you to our amazing chefs, Claire and Rocket, for organising and providing the glorious meat tray.

We also had other prizes available if a meat tray was not desired:

A tractor ride (within operational needs – T’s&C’s Apply)

A pick a dinner for Casey night (KFC Style feed highly recommended)

Weather balloon release (T’s&C’s Apply)

Challenge Lochie in a “Rock Off” for the prize of a delicious icy cold Great Northern Beer.

All in all a great time was had, prizes were won and the punters all went home happy knowing they contributed to raising $1390.00 for the Black Dog Institute towards mental health. Thank you to all who donated and supported.

- Tom Gersbach (All round good guy)