The new Davis wharf takes shape, venturing into the Vestfold Hills and farewell to the fixed-wing crew.

Davis wharf update

The Wharf at Davis is nearing its completion. With only 15 metres of shutter (wall) material to go it should be completed in a few weeks. Weather permitting, of course.

To date the wharf project has utilised nearly every piece of plant equipment the station has. This includes cranes, excavators, bob cats, front-end loaders, CAT IT heavy forklift, tele-handlers, rock Drills, generators, heavy roller, Mack tipper, cement truck, welders and oxy sets to name those that I can remember.

Once the walls have all been installed that will be cut to length, earthworks completed, bollards, ladders, and hitching rails will complete the job.

A total of some 55 tons of steel has gone into the project.

Tradies on tour

One of the highlights of the season for expeditioners in the Trades group was the opportunity to get away from the “big smoke” of Davis Station and get out exploring the Vestfold Hills.

John Hodgson was instrumental in enlisting one group with Matt, Rod and Francis, while Bradley, Geoff, John Harris, Dave and Tim formed the other.

The plan was for the two parties to walk in opposite directions stopping overnight at Brookes, Platcha, Trajer Ridge and Marine Plain huts. Although the total distance walked was a modest seventy kilometres or so, the terrain made it fairly strenuous going. We were relieved to find the huts at the end of the day’s walk and indulge in a frenzy of carbo-loading. Rod was quietly amazed at how much tea the Poms could drink.

About half-way round the two groups met up and swapped tips on routes best avoided. Geoff advised which lake he had filled his water bottle from, only to discover later it was brine. John’s group had overcome this by brewing tea when a natural break arose en route.

We also met up with a group of Russian geologists staying at Crooked Lake who kindly offered us vodka at 9.30 in the morning. We tactfully declined and had tea with them instead.

For all the team members, walking in the boulder-strewn valleys of the Vestfolds to the edge of the Antarctic Plateau was an awesome experience, in every sense. It is impossible to convey the sheer enormity and wilderness of the ancient landscape, its sculpted rock formations and the sense of desolation that is so vast as to be almost intimidating.

The weather was exceptional throughout the trip and, with 24 hours of daylight, made for excellent walking and photography.

After five days we were pleased to see the radio masts of Davis and were greeted by a platoon of Adelies as we approached.

Hot showers and a hot meal in the mess were accompanied by a couple of well deserved beers and followed by a very early night.

Bye bye black, red and white bird

This is the time of year we say goodbye to the fixed-wing contingent that has been with us this summer. These guys work really hard to support the science projects and operations off station and between stations. They become an integral part of the team and as such we miss them when they leave us.

Here are some excerpts from an email sent to Davis by the Twin Otter (OKB) team on departing:

Every year it is easier to fly to Davis — Head South — Keep Rockies on Right — Pickup Interstate 10 to Houston — Fly over house on beach in Mexico — Cross Panama Canal — Keep South America on left — Don’t drink the water — Leaving end of land — Head south to Rothera — Continue South until you have to go north — Angle a bit to the right — Eat snails, Boeuf Bourguignon and the like at Dome C — Stop briefly at Casey — Travel to Davis.

All found, 3 days to prepare, 10 days flying, 8 days of blizz.

Leaving is a great deal more difficult. Packing baggage is easy; we each have an extra pair of socks. The helo ride was simple, since they would have been glad to see the back of us. We had previously packed Tim Tams.

It’s that ‘damned’ emotional baggage. You might think that a scruffy, only occasionally-washed lot such as yourselves might be easy to leave behind.

Coming to Davis wasn’t so much going to work as coming home. Since rocks and snow are pretty much constant in our world, and we live in red buildings over in Casey, that can only mean that the feeling came from being with all of you. Thanks for that!

Waitangi Day at Davis

On Monday this week the many Kiwis amongst us celebrated Waitangi Day — New Zealand’s national day.

It was on the 6th February 1840 that the Treaty of Waitangi was signed. This document made New Zealand part of the British Empire and guaranteed the protection of land and rights for the Maori people.