From Davis this week: An Antarctic Dictionary, plenty of cake, making clouds from boiling water, cheesy goodness, SAR training, and farewell to the sun. How do we fit it all in?

The Australian Antarctic Dictionary

According to Greg

Often in Antarctica we use terminology which is less frequently used back in Australia. As a service to our devoted readers, the folks at Davis have put together a handy guide of terminology.

AAD — The Australian Antarctic Division (note the silent T in the acronym).

AAP — Australian Antarctic Program (See ANARE)

ANARE — Australian National Antarctic Research Expedition (See AAP)

BoM — Bureau of Meteorology

Boffin — A term of endearment to describe intellectual science types.

Chicken chaser — A biology boffin researching Antarctic birds.

Comfy chair — Originating from a Monty Python skit, the comfy chair is located in the Station Leader’s office and is where you sit when you’ve been naughty.

Comms — Those techo dudes who keep the internet, phones and radios going and are generally the oracle of computing knowledge on station, no matter what hour of the day or night.

Dieso — The God-like being who not only keeps the generators going to keep the lights on, but also keeps those important machinery and vehicles working when it is −30°C.

Donga — A bedroom/personal space. Dongas have improved massively over recent years and no longer located within leaking shipping containers or uninsulated fibreglass shells. Expressions like, “Would you like to see my Donga?” are considered risqué and inappropriate.

Filthy Boffin — A boffin who has been out in deep field for some time without access to a shower (See Boffin).

Field hut — That oasis at the end of a long walk. Contains food, heat and a comfy bed.

Field manual — That omnibus of useful information for when you are out in the field. Explains how to do just about anything to avoid getting into trouble and helping you out when you get into trouble. Note: no longer contains humour. Get an earlier version if you want humour.

First Aid Manual — A doctor in a book

FTO — Field Training Officer. Everybody needs at least one in their kit

Gash run — Garbage collection rounds

Hägg — A Hägglunds. Swedish dual cab tracked vehicle. Very capable on snow and rough terrain. They float (for a period), although it is best if you don’t test that out.

Hot smoko — the most treasured of smokos. The most important 30 minutes of the week. May contain bacon. (See Smoko)

Jolly — Any trip away from station. Usually rated by how good it is or what transport is used. Eg A walking jolly is just a jolly but a heli-jolly is extra special. A mega-jolly is normally one which lasts multiple days and involves visits to multiple field huts.

LIDAR — Light Detection and Ranging. At Davis this is a big green light which is often seen in photographs. Apparently it has a scientific purpose but it’s main use appears to be attracting photographers to come out at night time. Some have suggested that the boffins who run it are actually communicating with their mothership, while others say the big green light is burning a hole in the sky and letting all the ozone leak out.

Met fairy — A term of endearment to describe any employee of BoM

Petrel head — See chicken chaser.

Plumbers — If Diesos are the Gods of Light and Machinery, Plumbers are the Gods of Water and Poo, and without either we would surely die.

Quad — A 4-wheel drive motorcycle type vehicle designed to be driven at no more than 30km/h with all four wheels on the ground and facing precisely in the direction of travel.

Rock God — Geology boffin.

Rock licker — See Rock God.

Seal botherer — A marine biology boffin, often associated with sticking weird antennae on seals.

Smoko — The short break between breakfast and lunch, used by hard working tradies to rest and get some food in their guts.

Slushy — Kitchen slave. In charge of washing the pots and pans amongst other things.

Snotsicles — The cold air makes your nose run, and when your runny nose freezes on your face/beard, you have a snotsicle.

Sparkie — An electrician. They don’t create too many sparks these days. Spend most of their lives endlessly testing fire systems.

WTF — Waste Treatment Facility. A mythical machine-like creature for making waste materials disappear. A bit like a unicorn. Apparently we’re getting one.

Birthday cakes

We celebrated three birthdays over the past week or so. First Mel on the 27th of May, then Tom on the 30th May, and finally Joe Glacken on the 1st of June. It’s great when we get to eat cake thrice in quick succession!

Not to mention also Perry’s, Greg Crawford’s, Cliffy’s, Ray’s, Dave Russell’s, Matt Morley’s and Clive’s birthdays. We were thinking about you! 

Making clouds

Temperatures have been slowly dropping and in the past week we had several days below −30°C. At these temperatures the water vapour given off by boiling water instantly condenses. So the folks at Davis have been foregoing showers and other pleasantries to throw a cup of water into the air. Makes for a nice pic.

We also asked the people here to come up with the best explanation, which didn’t let science or facts get in the way of a good story. Here are the top two entries:

“Everybody knows water boils at a lower temperature the higher you go. Also that most world maps are drawn upside down. So in Antarctica, at the top of the globe, water thrown into the air boils immediately and then freezes because it’s so damn cold.” 


“This only works for the super awesome. If you are not super awesome all you get is a cup full of boiling water land on your head. The boiling water is so super excited to be in your presence that when unleashed from its vessel, it cannot contain its excitement anymore and explodes with pure joy therefore turning into ice crystals. It’s like a dog wagging its tail, excitedly for some people and biting others. Same principle if you’re not super awesome, you get nothing.”


Saturday cheesy fondue night

This weekend, with reduced numbers on station due to trips out to huts for a few, we enjoyed a relaxing Saturday night with lots of cheesy goodness: a fondue up in the lounge. We do it so hard!

SAR training

As Friday rolls along, a young Antarctic Expeditioner’s mind turns to the weekend. But weekends are a luxury and to enjoy that luxury you must first pay a luxury tax. That tax is the biweekly SAR training. This fortnight we refreshed our skills in knots, ropes, hauling systems and stretchers, ably led by our outdoors, climbing, adventure freak Darryl the Ferret.

Only a few people managed not to hit their heads on the 5” beam which runs straight across the middle of the SAR Equipment storage area. Thank goodness it’s padded.

Last sunset

On 2nd June, Davis said goodbye to the sun for about six weeks. The sun rose at 1:43pm and set again at 1:49pm. As we head towards mid-winter, the amount of daylight will reduce until it is only an hour or two of twilight in the middle of the day. The next sunrise will be on the 10th July.