Find out what Davis expeditioners get up to on and off the job, and see some stunning scenery and aurora images.

Nick’s cartoon of the week

Patient care is important if there is ever a need to use a stretcher. Nick demonstrates why that is the case. (SAR means Search and Rescue.)


On Thursday Alyce and I went on another beautiful trip to visit one of our lake sampling sites. Out just for the day, we rode our quad bikes up the sea ice and along Long Fjord to Ace Lake. Here we had lunch before measuring the thickness of the lake ice and making our way home.

It was a great (although rather bumpy) trip out and I hope you enjoy the photos.

Sarah Payne

Whilst Sarah and Alyce were in the field visiting a few of the designated sampling sites Dave and Paul installed a buoy on the ocean floor approx 2km’s from station. The buoy is designed to measure ice and sea water temperatures.

Who’s who on station

Valentin (Val) Pop — Plumber

What did you do before this?

I was born in Romania and that’s where I lived up until nine years ago. Training to be a plumber is very different in Romania because you have to attend four years of full time schooling before you can commence work. When I completed my four years I was fully qualified in plumbing, gas fitting, ventilation and drain laying (just to name a few).

Before I started work as a plumber I spent two years in the military as most Romanians are required to do.

Following my military service I spent 16 years working in mountain resorts as a plumber then eventually moved, with my family, to New Zealand (NZ) nine years ago. We had a number of options but we chose NZ because it’s a nice safe country and perfect for raising a family. In NZ I worked for the same company for nine years.

Why Antarctica?

Many people have a desire to work down here but for me it was a spontaneous decision. I had subscribed to Seek job notifications and amongst the many notifications received on a weekly basis the ‘Antarctic’ job stood out. I wasn’t worried about having the required qualifications as my schooling and previous employment history had that all covered, but I wasn’t sure if I had the ‘personality’ they were looking for as my background is different to some and I consider myself as a quiet family person. I’m happy to say I was right for the job and the rest is history.

Previous Antarctic experience?

No previous Antarctic experience, however 16 years working in the ski resorts with similar temperatures has helped me acclimatise. My parents live in the northern regions of Romania — an area called Maramures — and in winter −30° is common.

How do you spend your time down here?

I’m the only plumber at Davis which keeps me busy and I enjoy it. I’m responsible for all plumbing, general maintenance and repairs, heating, water production, looking after the spa, boilers, and the incinerator.

In my spare time I keep fit. You can find me in the gym every day or relaxing with a good book. I contact my family in NZ and around the world on a daily basis. I also enjoy watching the occasional movie, socialising with the team and playing darts.

What do you miss the most?

Definitely family but the daily contact helps and we share in each other’s experiences. I don’t miss lawn mowing, noisy traffic, big crowds and shopping.

Best thing about being here?

I love the quietness of Antarctica and the clean unspoilt environment. Making new friends. Everyone here is very different but they all have something in common — they are all talented and very friendly. I also love getting out into the field but to be honest right now with the very cold temperatures and long dark days I’d prefer to stay close to station, enjoy the mod cons, warm buildings and a comfortable bed. My early childhood memories are of our family moving around, living in huts with no electricity and doing my homework by candlelight, so I’ll wait for the sun to come back and make the most of my travels off station then. For me it’s not about staying in the huts — it’s about the adventure of getting there and back.

On the job

It’s always handy to have a camera in your pocket when walking around station as you'll likely find expeditioners willing to have their photo taken for inclusion in ‘This Week at Davis'.

However, there’s always one in every crowd willing to set a professional standard, or hoping they will finally, after all these years of hard work, ‘get noticed'. Without any encouragement Mark steps up and sets that high standard by showing how to work the camera. If there are any reputable magazine editors out there impressed with Mark's natural ability, contact us immediately please.


When you're not working there’s always plenty to occupy your time, such as having your hair dyed a lovely shade of purple; band practice for those who can’t play an instrument (except for Dave); and yoga classes with a difference…


Aurora images