Temperatures plummet but spirits are high at Davis this week as we host a chilly murder mystery and examine plans for the new WTF. The Doc also interviews dashing Aircraft Ground Support Officer, Matt Ryan.

Murder mystery mayhem

With temperatures hovering around −30ºC and daylight decreasing decidedly daily, most things around Davis are finding it difficult to get started, including us.

Not so Saturday evening. We all received our invitations a few weeks ago so had ample opportunity to get to grips with the characters we were to play in this evening of intrigue and entertainment. The night began early with mug-shots taken of everyone as they arrived at the LQ, now transformed into a den for delinquents, followed by platter upon platter of delicious finger food to satiate our hunger courtesy of Ali Bye (aka Brigid). 

Expertly and aggressively hosted by Dana Badthing (aka Steph) and Lou Ting (aka Joe) the festivities started with a shoot out, the fastest gun in the East Antarctic being Ann Onomous (aka Cathie) cool, calm and collected against Celia Fate (aka Linc). No surprises there!

The next thing we know there’s been a cold blooded murder in our midst. One of our own, Travis Dee (aka Jose) has been cut down in his prime and we spend the next few hours competing for clues, fairly or foully, to bring the murderer to justice.

In between blaming each and every one in opposing teams, and your own, and solving the crime, we also enjoyed musical tables. Ali Bye (aka Brigid) was the last dancer standing and feeding and eating cake while blindfolded, Con Traversy (aka Tom) and the Gambler (aka Nick) cleaned off the cream cake before most had even got their first mouthful.

The finale saw us all on the right track some time around midnight. Ruth Less (aka Steve) was the culprit. (S)He looked the part anyway!

The Graham Cook WTF

Within the next two years, Davis will have a brand new Waste Treatment Facility(WTF), yet another 3 letter acronym that is just concrete footings at present.

This building will incorporate a ‘state of the art’ biological sewage treatment plant that will deliver uncontaminated (drinkable, apparently) water back into the sensitive marine environment around Davis.

This will of course make the current Graeme Cook Outfall Pipe obsolete. To maintain continuity there is a proposal to transfer the title. The Graham Cook WTF has a lovely ring to it. 

Doc’s Dozen with Matt Ryan

The Doc interviews Matt Ryan, Aircraft Ground Support Officer

Matt, I know this is definitely not your first trip to Antarctica, what brings you back here?

This is my third trip to the ice. I wintered at Davis in 2007 and Casey in 2010. This is a very addictive place. Generally Antarctica attracts people who are looking for ‘something else’.

What is it like being an Aircraft Ground Support Officer here (AGSO)?

In short, great. It’s a very diverse and challenging role.

If not an AGSO what job would you do?

Florist. (Not my first pick for you, but yes, I can see it. Creative, personable, chatting to the ladies…)

Best gig as an AGSO?

I had some great opportunities as an AGSO this season, but there is nothing like the smell of ATK in the morning as the sun rises over a frozen continent. That said, the few trips I managed out to places like the Prince Charles Mountains or Mawson Escarpment this year will take some beating.

Best experience in Antarctica so far?

Hard to say. Basically when there are so many ‘once in a lifetime’ experiences packed into such a short period of time it is hard to identify just one. There are so many things that I have been lucky enough to be part of as an expeditioner with the AAD. I have been involved in traverses, visited the Chinese, Russian, American and Kiwi bases, had my breath taken away by a sky full of auroras, had my eyelashes freeze together, been for a swim in Antarctica on midwinter’s day, flown over glaciers, been stuck in blizzards, shared the comradery and privilege of being part of a small group for a very long time, along with many, many more experiences that words cannot describe.

What do you love about Antarctica?

The sheer remoteness of the place requires adaptability and resourcefulness. (Of that, you are the master Matt. Need anything? “Ask Matt”, I say.) It is nice to be judged on what you can achieve and the role you can play in the community rather than the usual ‘what do you do, and where do you live’ type mentality.

What have you learned living in our little Davis community?

Along with the fact that the walls are very thin and have ears, there is a big difference in the experience each time you head south depending on who you are lucky or unlucky enough to share the experience with. No two trips will ever be the same. I was very lucky this time to be surrounded by so many good people. Good people always make for a good experience.

What has been the toughest gig in Antarctica?

Apart from the politics, answering questions from school kids proved a challenge for me. Questions like, “What bugs are in Antarctica?”, or “How many different types of wildlife are present in Antarctica?” required some significant research. One of the toughest questions I had was “What can I do to help Antarctic animals struggling to cope with climate change?”.

Matt, if you were a car, what would you be?

An 80 series Toyota Landcruiser. (Practical, tough, dependable, that’s you all over Matt, although I wouldn’t describe a Landcruiser as cheeky!)

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

The guy on the other side of the looking glass.

Matt, are you a morning or a night person?

It’s fair to say that I take a while to warm up in the mornings, as people who approach me for deep and meaningful conversation before my two standard morning coffees work out. (…really?)

What is likely to be in store for you when you get home?

I’ll head back to Darwin and enjoy good friends and a great place. I suppose one day I should try and get a real job and live a normal life, but I’m in no rush.

Matt, as always, it has been a delight, and again, a big thank you for my surprise little stainless steel creation.