More trips to the Larsemanns, countdown to the ship’s arrival, elephant seal playground, and the Doc’s Dozen.

Welcome to Davis

Maybe more of a welcome than this seal expected…

The below photo was taken a few days ago on the track down to the beach. At present we have 113 male elephant seals (Mirounga leonina) consisting of 53 juveniles and 60 adults, hauled out to moult on the beach in front of the station.

Many are starting to leave as they finish moulting and realise the sea in front of the station has now frozen and is thickening at a rapid rate. Some are even finding they can crawl over the ice without breaking through.

Twenty five are sporting the latest in elephant seal headwear courtesy of our seal scientists. The headwear is a CTD-SRDL tag — a devise that will measure the salinity and temperature of the sea water the seal is in, plus the depth to which the seal dives to feed and travel.

It is not only the seals that are moulting as the adelies have been busy too, replacing every feather on their body in preparation for the next few months at sea, feeding. 

Bharati visit

Bharati is the brand new Indian station 120km to our South-West in the Larsemann Hills but only a short ½ hour chopper ride with our fantabulous Pilots Frank and Dougie. Originally we were meant to go on Sunday for their ‘Grand Opening’ but unfortunately the ‘A’ factor kicked in with the weather turning, giving us some more white stuff and the choppers were grounded. So Monday the weather cleared and we had the opportunity to visit our Indian neighbours.

On approach to land, you are confronted by something that could mistake for something from the movie Space Odyssey with a very space ship style building. The station has been built from the ground up this season — the only thing done last season was the footings. The station was made out of prefabricated 20’ shipping containers meaning that a majority of the work could be done back in civilization. The new station will summer up to 47 expeditioners with a winter crew of 12. In the background on one of the pics you’ll see their Russian supply ship, the MV Ivan Papanin, with her 18m draft only 25m from shore. Their harbour is nice and deep at 300m. 

We're packing up

It’s almost time to leave Davis. The past week has seen myself, Goldie and Danny, running around station, picking up rubbish, stacking shipping containers, and putting machinery and equipment away, in readiness for the coming winter.

It’s amazing just how many last minute jobs crop up! Patching up pot-holes in roads, storing timber off cuts into boxes, putting up “blizz’ lines” (ropes tied between buildings), it seems to go on and on! At least the days go quicker.

 Then there’s the job of collecting as many empty cage pallets as we can find. Danny’s developed a talent for this job. Whenever I turn around, seems he has got another from somewhere or another! These will be filled with cargo, ready to be shipped back to Hobart.

Jacki has the unenviable task of organizing all the cargo that’s to be packed into the cage pallets and shipped home. Not exactly sure how Jacki decides what goes where, but she does. Maybe “secret storeperson’s business”? We get to give her a hand with the packing (photos to prove it too!).

For most of us, it’s time to think about packing our bags, saying goodbye to the people staying over for winter, some old friends, some new, the trip back to Hobart via Casey, then seeing family and friends we left behind 6 months ago.

The wildlife, the scenery and the people. That’s what stands out for me.

Once again, my time in Antarctica has been truly amazing.

Greg Crawford

Another Doctor’s Dozen — Keaton Manolas

Keaton Manolas

Boiler maker/General trades/Poo pants fashionista

Keaton, is this your first trip to Antarctica and what brought you here?

This is my first trip to Antarctica but I have dreamed of coming here since I was 14 after I saw a television show about people working in the Antarctic. They showed the workshops and I just couldn’t believe there were people down here doing those sorts of things. I sent my first application in when I was 22, so when I was finally offered the position I was really stoked. It was a dream come true.

What is it like being a general tradie here?

It’s great. I love it. There are 3 boilermakers here this summer. I am doing mainly the maintenance work which includes going out to the field huts to work which I love.

If not a boilermaker what job would you do?

Nothing else. I have the best job in the world. (good answer…catwalk model was never going to happen)

Keaton, best gig as a boilermaker?

Definitely being here. I have never seen snow before!

Best experience in Antarctica?

That is hard to pinpoint. Flying in a helicopter for the first time was unique and different.

What do you love about Antarctica?

I have loved everything about it. I would like to come back again for a summer, and perhaps a winter as well in the future.

Has being here at Davis been what you expected?

Living and working here at Davis is different, but in a lot of ways, a lot better than I expected. I expected more ice and snow and it is warmer than I thought it would be, but that is good for me because I really feel the cold.

Who inspires you?

I shared a room at the selection centre with a guy who had spent 5 years riding around Europe and Russia, sleeping rough on the side of the road. I would like to do that, ride around and spin the globe.

What have you learned living in a small community?

I have learned to be there for others, just to listen to them. Not to say anything, just listen. I have noticed people starting to get a bit grumpy as the summer season is finishing. (Davis has learned about a whole new fashion trend named ‘The Keaton Poo Pants Look’ — photo below)

If you were a car, what would you be?

I’m not much of a car person, but it would be an old sports car from the 60’s, the type of car James Dean or Austin Powers would drive.

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

Not sure…that’s a tough one.

What is in store when you return home?

First up, I am going to finish completing my private pilot’s license. I have spent a lot of my time flying with my step-father. He has a Mooney 201, a cool little plane. I am going to travel around Australia a bit to catch up with my friends and then head back up north to Cape Preston near Karratha where I have been working in a magnetite mine.

Thanks for your time today Keaton and for the great photo shoot.