Lots of snow and Easter Eggs at Davis

SAR training for Summerers

by Danny Phillips

One fine Sunday not so long ago, some awesome Davis lads, Danny, Ilias, Brad, Tim, Matt, Rod, Brent, Geoff and our FTO Mike, were up at the ungodly hour of 10am for a beaut trip to Trajer Ridge in a noisy flying contraption (someone called it a squirrel but I saw no resemblance). On arrival we quickly unloaded all our gear and held it down so it didn’t get caught in the rotors of the whirligig.

We took a quick look around to admire our amazing surroundings then we got stuck into setting up a Z pulley system to practise the raising and lowering of injured people on steep slopes.

We split into two groups and set up four ice/snow anchors for the main line, four for the belay line, rigged up the ropes for the lowering of a stretcher filled with gear and lowered it gently down a slope. We then reconfigured the rope set up into a Z pulley configuration to make a 3 to 1 mechanical advantage and raised the stretcher up again.

After all the ‘hi 5s', back slapping and cheering of achieving our goal was over, we went for cups of tea and bikkies in the little melon hut.

After a short break we were back into it. Our next mission was to all get together and make one more system with our newly acquired knowledge. This time we risked life and limb by putting a real live fearless volunteer into the stretcher, lowering them down the slope and Z-pullying them back up — the only real casualty was an unsecured water bottle that went for a solo trip to the bottom. After retrieving the shaken but not stirred escapee bottle, we put all the gear back into its correct bags just in time to catch the flying bus back to Davis for a well earned home brew beverage.

Rubber Duck Lake

A few months ago one of our team, Greg Wilson (Comms Technical Officer), submitted a recommendation to the Antarctic Names Committee to have an unnamed lake near Watts Hut in the Vestfold Hills, named Rubber Duck Lake. To his great surprise the committee have approved his suggestion and it will be so-named.

The entry is as follows…

Composite Gazetteer of Antarctica

Rubber Duck Lake

SCAR Gazetteer Ref. No 19382

A small, blue, freshwater duck shaped lake, approximately 1500m across, 1km east of Watts Hut in the Vestfold Hills. The distinctive shape of the lake lends itself to the name. The lake is a useful navigation point when walking between Crooked Lake and Watts Hut. The name is consistent with a number of other lakes in the Vestfolds, which have names based on their distinctive shapes. These include Cat Lake, Tassie Lake, Shield Lake, Lebed Lake (Russian for Swan Lake) and Medusa Lake to name a few.

Latitude: 68° 36’ 04.0” S −68.601°-68.601°

Longitude: 78° 15’ 02.0” E 78.251°78.251°

Easter at Davis

Easter at Davis was celebrated in traditional fashion — we enjoyed the downtime, making the most of our now spacious surroundings.

On Good Friday Joe, Rob and Steph took a stroll out to Deep Lake to take the monthly photos, and Cathie, Coade and Scotty made their way out to Watts Hut via Marine Plains for the weekend. The rest of us smartly devoured the hot cross buns Brigid made — the softest and most delicious I have ever tasted.

Saturday night saw us partake in a splendid feast topped off by a Chocolate buffet, complete with chocolate desserts and marzipan bunnies.

On Sunday we all hunted for our individual ‘Davis green’ nests, complete with eggs left by the Easter bunny (franchised to the Doc) — luckily none were too hard to find.

Monday was spent recovering from the excesses of the days before!

Trip to Deep Lake

Snowfalls in the Vestfold Hills change everything — what was familiar before takes on a very different appearance.

Joe, Rob and Steph left on Good Friday for a walk out to Deep Lake — once a month Joe records the tide level there, as part of an ongoing monitoring programme — the Deep Lake water level being one of Australia’s ‘State of the Environment’ indicators of change.

As you can see from the images Rob captured, the snow adds a wintry feel to the usually brown landscape.

Doc’s Dozen — Goldie

Michael Goldstein

Plant Operator/Boating Officer/GoPro master

Goldie, is this your first trip to Antarctica? What brings you here?

No… this is my third summer in Antarctica but the first time to Davis. My other seasons were spent at Casey. I came down originally after seeing photos that my parents had taken from a tourist boat trip they did to the Antarctic Peninsula. Coincidently, the following week, there was an advertisement for positions in Antarctica in the employment section of the newspaper. Three attempts later, after wearing them down I guess, I got a phone call and six weeks later I was on the ice.

What is it like being a Plant Operator here at Davis?

Well, I have two roles here. My primary role is Station Plant Operator, or SPO in government talk. Basically I operate all the heavy machines like cranes, diggers, mobile crushing plants to little Bob Cats on station for both the resupply operations and infrastructure program.

My other role is more fun, if that is possible, I am also one of the Station Boating Officers. This role means I get out in the IRBs, cruising amongst the bergs a fair bit, and believe me it’s tough, (Goldie, you are not fooling anyone. Iceberg cruises are a summer highlight!) but on the serious side, I also ensure the safe operating of the boats by all the other coxswains and crews.

If not a Plant Operator/Loveboat Captain, what would you do?

Well, that’s a tough one as I have quite a wide and varied list of previous occupations. I am a baker/pastry cook (who could forget Goldie’s pies over summer… yum) with experience in the hardware/paint industry, commercial real estate, coffee shops …mmmm love a coffee right now with REAL MILK, franchising and quarrying, which is where the plant operation comes in. I always say I am a baker that happens to be able to operate heavy machinery. So, in short, I have no idea what I want to be when I grow up but I’m having fun in the meantime trying to work it out.

What has been your best gig as a plant operator Goldie?

Best gig on the big machines was probably my first season on the continent. I was involved in the Wilkins infrastructure program and the building/towing of Halkes Hut up to the Wilkins ice runway. I’m pretty sure in saying that it was the biggest tow in Australian Antarctic history at approximately 50 ton, but any gig with Ken and Joe as ESS’s is just as good if not better …grovel, grovel. (I wonder if Goldie is looking for a job next season?)

What has been your best experience in Antarctica?

I can even tell you the date, 2nd January 2011, we were at Casey on a cruise in the IRBs going to Peterson Island. The weather was magic and the wildlife was everywhere, in fact it would be a shorter list to tell you what we didn’t see, but I’m not going to miss a chance to rub it in. There were several Leopard Seals, Elephant Seals, Emperor Penguins, Adélie Penguins, Weddell Seals, orcas and Minke Whales. It was a day that I will remember too, due to the fact that one of the more rowdy expeditioners was taking pics all day, only to realise that he didn’t have a memory card in his camera! LOL.

What do you love about Antarctica?

Well, before I came here I was thinking that it was going to be the wildlife and scenery, and I guess it is, but that is not all of it. It is the strong friendships that are formed that make this place so special. Sharing unique experiences with good mates in one of the harshest places on earth, where sometimes you really are putting your life in your mate’s hands, has a habit of doing it too.

Who inspires you Goldie?

My parents. How sucky does that sound?

(I think that’s so sweet. Note to self… must get my kids to read this)

What have you learned living in our little community at Davis?

Tolerance, adaptability and the ability to go with the flow, roll with the punches and whatever other analogy you can think of.

If you were a car, what would you be?

Probably a Dodge Challenger like the Dukes of Hazard… big, loud and expensive to run. Sounds like me! (Expensive to run? Yes, wasn’t it Goldie who won the award for breaking the most equipment over the summer?)

If you could be someone else, who would you be?

Who would want to be anyone else? I have the BEST life, friends and family. Give that up to be someone else? I don’t think so!

If you were granted one wish Goldie, what would it be?

To be granted as many more as I want, seriously, who wouldn’t think of that! But then, if you asked my father that, he would say “an eye at the end of my finger so I can see in my ear” …hmmm that’s my Dad.

What is in store for you when you return home Goldie?

Work isn’t high on the list but I think we are going on a family holiday this year somewhere. I will try and get some scuba diving in somewhere else and some ‘fishing’ on South Stradbroke Island, not that I am a fisherman if you get my drift. (No I don’t get your drift Goldie! I’m Victorian, I don’t understand Queensland-speak)

Thank you so much for this little chat Goldie. Let’s go look at some of the big boys’ toys!