At Davis this week: to Bandits and Beyond, Christmas in July, ramp onto the plateau, an in-depth with the BSS, and patterns in the snow.

Bandits and beyond

Thanks to Cathie’s organisation, Coade, Scotty and Ali were pretty much ready to go at 1130 Friday morning.  The survival packs were stowed (or so we thought), the food and beverages were packed along with all the rest of the paraphernalia required to get off-station for a few days.  Scotty drove the Hägg onto the sea ice and away from station as the day dawned. It was clear to the northeast and we were hopeful of a glimpse of the sun for the first time since the beginning of June.

We had to drill on the way as the sea ice past BR2 was uncharted territory. There had been no-one that way since the sea ice formed in March.  Drilling showed the sea ice to be well over a metre everywhere without exception. We passed a myriad of icebergs all shapes and sizes, some forcing us to divert from the way-pointed route, but all pristine and magnificent in the morning light.

Settling into Bandits was easy once the generator was started and the kettle was boiling. That night we enjoyed a sky full of aurora australis, made even more spectacular by the lack of station lights.

The next day bright and early, well, before lunch anyway, we left for Mikkelsens Cairn. It was here in 1935 that Norwegian Captain Klarius Mikkelsen and his wife Karoline (officially the first woman to step foot on the Antarctic continent) stepped off the whaling ship Thorshavn and spent the day. There is a photo of them at this very spot.  Some of us hugged the pole sited there then we gazed out over the icebergs at the golden rays of the sun now barely above the horizon. I thought of how the Inuit’s must have felt in early times when the sun returned to start warming the earth once again and how relieved they must have been.

We then travelled to Wilkins Cairn, a rocky outcrop peeking from beneath the formidable east Antarctic ice sheet.  I don’t think I have ever been there without the wind blowing before this trip.  It was a perfect day and that high up the sun was back with us again.  We got the flag out and read Wilkins’s proclamation claiming the area for Australia, just has he did in 1939 (I love doing that bit) then packed it all up again for the next explorer to find.

Next was a quick visit to the largest of the Wyatt Earp islands to hug a few rocks then back to Bandits for some warm food and congenial conversation over a very fine port.

Christmas in July

To brighten up our winter, station doctor Jan decided to organise a ‘Christmas in July’ themed Saturday night dinner. The tree and Emily were decorated accordingly and Greg set the table in Christmas style.

Jan cooked all day, helped by Brigid and Adam, to produce a superb three course meal worthy of any restaurant. The pièce de résistance was the Christmas pudding, set aflame in 1861 fashion.

Thanks Jan for a wonderful evening!

Ramp onto the plateau

Doc’s Dozen with Steve Edwards

Steve Edwards, Building Services Supervisor / Deputy Fire Chief / Emergency Response Team — SAR Leader / Hydroponics team

Steve, you have come straight from Kiwi Land, is this your first trip to Antarctica and what brings you here? This is my first time here in Antarctica and it was because it was time for a change from my comfort zone.

What is it like being the Building Services Supervisor here?
It is great working with good tradies. I learn something from them each day, and vice-versa I hope.

If not a BSS, what job would you do Steve? A mechanical services plumber.

Best gig as the BSS? I would have to admit going out in the taxi (helicopter) and doing the hut inspections and repairs. (Don’t say that too loud around the heli boys Steve!)

What has been your best experience in Antarctica so far? My best experience would have to be flying to Beaver Lake hut then climbing to the top of the hill and seeing the snow covered Prince Charles Mountains. I love the scenery and the wildlife. The adelie penguins are the comedians of the Antarctic.

Who inspires you Steve? Mostly everybody.

Steve, what have you learned living in our little Davis community? I live in a small town, Kerikeri, in New Zealand. It’s the same there. You have to remember to be understanding and appreciate what others do.

What kind of car would you be Steve?
A solid 4x4 truck with a hoist on the back. Very practical.

Steve, you have spent a bit of time in the medical facility this season. Who is the best looking nursing assistant in Team Orange that we have? They all look beautiful when you are coming out of an anaesthetic, including Linc. (Oh my goodness! I’ll have to keep an eye on those anaesthetic drug doses!)

Steve, how did you get your nick name ‘Papa Smurf’? I have the right age, figure and moustache. Go with the flow.

How many cartons of potatoes, carrots and onions do you think you have peeled this season? I lost count after counting on all my fingers and toes.

If you were granted one wish what would it be? To go back 30 years and be wiser than I am now, but I am very happy being me and I am looking forward to putting the motor home on the road and going for a holiday when I return home.

I do believe that it was Papa Smurf’s duty to ensure all the Smurfs of the village got along well, were nice to each other and did not fight, but when troubles arose amongst them he took measures to solve the problems, often using magic alchemy. Thank you very much Papa Smurf, still going strong at 542 years of age.

Patterns in the snow

The station looked terrible after the recent grit storm we had. All brown and gungy! Since then, successive layers of snow have formed the most amazing patterns as the following images illustrate.