Turning 25 in Antarctica can be pretty special, even without a surprise party! Also at Davis, Hägglunds training and a chat with Craig, dieso and model enthusiast.

Nick’s Cartoon of the Week

Not the type of Hägg training we had in mind, Nick. For more information on the real Hägglunds training conducted on station during the week, keep reading This Week at Davis.


The weekly sea ice measurement project continues to attract interest amongst the team as more expeditioners put their hand up to assist Paul measure the depth of the sea ice. We think it could be a combination of getting off station on the quads, assisting with science projects and/or ganging up on Paul making his work a little more challenging as the team enjoy playing a few jokes on him. It’s all in a days work for Paul and he is yet to be really challenged.

Last week Layla and Dave provided Paul with that much needed assistance. Ice measurements are now over 600 mm and growing.

On the job

A couple of shots from work this week at Davis. 

Hägglunds recovery training

The sea ice has been at a consistent depth acceptable for foot and quad travel for some time now and we’re currently only a few weeks away before the ice is at the point when we can take Hägglunds out into the field.

We have a few teams eagerly awaiting to retrieve vehicles from Whoop Whoop (on the plateau) and for our scientists to commence water sampling at a number of designated sites — the Hägglunds are required for both of these projects.

As a refresher, ‘Team Dieso’ (Mark, Corey and Craig) organised and delivered a very professional Hägglunds recovery training session during the week. With everyone on station involved , ‘Team Dieso’ split everyone into two teams and the training was held over two days. All expeditioners enjoyed a brief presentation which focused on what to avoid, followed by a detailed practical exercise. The exercise involved retrieving a Hägglunds from a difficult location with both teams doing an outstanding job. Now not that we are a competitive bunch but there was talk amongst team one when packing away the recovery gear to temporarily hide a few essential items which would make the recovery a little more challenging for team two the following day.

Thank you ‘Team Dieso', as a result of the very detailed practical exercise you provided you are now highly unlikely to be called out to provide assistance. (Kidding!)

Social times

Last Saturday, while a few kept Alyce very busy and away from the living quarters, a team of decorators and kitchen assistants  were busy preparing a surprise birthday party. It’s not often one can say they had their 25th birthday on station so to mark this special occasion the team went to a great deal of effort for one of our youngest station members. Chef Lesley had a few additional assistants in the kitchen to prepare canapes whilst others decorated the dining area with balloons and streamers. Alyce was surprised and a great night was had by all.

Mother’s Day was also remembered on station — phone calls and emails were made back home, messages were written in the snow and, as it was as perfect sunny windless day, a few visited the Davis rock garden. The garden features numerous interesting and thought provoking art, and as most Mums love to spend time in the garden, we shouldn’t be any different. This is our special Antarctic rock garden.

Who’s who on station

Craig Dunkley, Expedition Mechanic

What were you like as a kid?

I loved Tonka trucks so I was probably destined to be a diesel mechanic from a young age. Like any young kid I was always up to mischief and slightly clumsy — if there was a puddle in sight I’d fall into it and would often hit my head. I don’t think any of those injuries have had a lasting effect on me.

What did you do before this?

I was a Field Service Technician with Adaptalift in Melbourne for ten years. I've lived in various suburbs of Melbourne all of my life and I currently live down the Mornington Peninsula.

Why Antarctica?

I wanted to challenge myself — physically, mentally and in my career. I've never liked the idea of working in the mines as that to me is ‘just a job'. I wanted a career which had more meaning and Antarctica sounded like a good place to be. Why Antarctica? Why not?! When I looked at the pros and cons, I only found pros.

Previous Antarctic experience?

This is my first time working in Antarctica and I’m keen to come again. I've had no previous experience working in a cold environment but have visited the snow fields in Australia a few times. I never really thought I’d enjoy the cold as much as I do and trudging around in the snow and ice is much more fun than I anticipated.

How will you spend your time down here?

Besides work, I spend most of my spare time making plastic models of cars and planes, playing games on the computer and watching the occasional movie. I also enjoy getting out into the field, visiting the huts and experiencing the joys of being in the wide open spaces.

What will you miss?

Family and friends to a certain degree but they are only a phone call away. I’m really not missing anything as I’m making the most of being here. I have everything I need on station such as my computer, and my car and plane models, I don’t need much else. I don’t miss traffic and insects, thank goodness there’s no flies or mosquitoes at Davis.

Best thing about being here?

The best thing about being here is being here, being in such a faraway place with a group of like-minded people. The food is excellent — I don’t think I've missed a meal yet. The scenery, wildlife, the whole nature of the place.

I have a number of other community responsibilities. I’m on the fire and search and rescue team, I’m the flag officer, always keen to help with hydroponics, member of the sea ice drilling team, and I've traveled to Whoop Whoop to retrieve vehicles and plant equipment. The good thing about this job is our work takes us off station as well.

So far I have avoided getting the ‘Tool of the Week’ award. Each week one of the trades staff is awarded the ‘Tool’ trophy as a result of doing something silly and it’s a lot of fun seeing who gets nominated. I thought I was going to get the award a few weeks ago when I broke the battery jump pack, however I was quick to glue it back together and thankfully no one noticed!