Greetings everyone and thanks for tuning in again. This week at Davis features plumbing works, stars of the big screen Jan W and Rowdy, arts and crafts, Sansom Island hut replacement, beautiful sunsets, BBQ celebrations at the waste water treatment plant and a retrospective on James H’s adventures in the Prince Charles Mountains.

This week at ‘Ducky’ (plumbers)

The project plumbers have made another successful cut in to the site services heating hot water. This time the objective was to re-route the pipe work for the ASP and water supply buildings from the existing main to the new leg installed for the waste water treatment plant (WWTP) building.

In the next couple of years the WWTP will also house a new emergency power house (EPH). Part of the works for this EPH is the installation of a new diesel fuel pipe to run the generators. This section has been completed, meaning as of next week the team will be starting work in earnest inside the new WWTP.

15 minutes of fame with ABC’s Catalyst

During the training period for the winter crew, two members of the team were profiled by the ABC science program Catalyst. The program was looking into what the physical and psychological attributes are required to work in one of the most remote locations on earth. Our comms gurus were able to download the program and there wasn’t a spare seat in the house for the red carpet screening on station.

Watch online

Sansom Island huts

A team consisting of Seamus(welder), Mark (general trades) and Bryce (engineer) constructed the new hut, a 'melon’ on Sansom Island. As simple as the job sounds there were a few difficulties experienced, especially after the new hut was discovered to be an iridium free zone.

The old Melon was to be moved without the assistance of helicopter support. The most recent move of the melon was 28 years ago to the day which saw the melon moved from Trajer Ridge to its location on Sansom Island. After a few difficulties at the start, the hut moved to its present location 10 metres east of the old site.

When fixed wing support arrives back at Davis next season, the old hut will find itself another home back on station. The new melon went up in spite of winds gusting over 40 knots and was thoroughly tied down thanks to Seamus. After a couple of days it was time to head back to Davis but not before a spectacular sunset over the Amery ice shelf.

Bryce H

Field work in the Prince Charles Mountains

For three weeks over the New Year period I had the pleasure to be the field guide for a Chinese geological team. The team were conducting fieldwork in the Prince Charles Mountains, Beaver Lake, Vestfold Hills and Mt Brown areas. The group consisted of three geologists from Beijing’s Chinese Academy of Geological Science and one geologist from Chengdu’s First Institute of Oceanography.

We were told the group had English speaking skills ranging from one member with good, two with reasonable and one with little English. When the Chinese arrived we had some time locally around the Vestfold Hills to put this to the test. Collecting samples and mapping of the geological features from Powell Point to Ellis Narrows was the focus of this part of their work. This was a good introduction to the Antarctic surrounds for the team to test their gear and their fitness.

By the time the weather was good enough to fly the group was well versed in basic operating procedures and safety requirements. First stop was Mt Brown by Twin Otter aeroplane with which we had two hours on the ground for mapping and sampling. We returned to overnight at Davis plateau ski landing area then had an early start for the two hour flight by helicopter and Twin Otter to Beaver Lake. Arriving at Beaver Lake we had over 800 kg of camp gear and food, with half going to a northern camp and the other half being left at the Beaver Lake apples. After saying our goodbyes to the pilots the camp was arranged into a liveable state with polar pyramids put up and gear organised.

Day two consisted of a gentle 32 km day with a walk through shin deep snow which was getting deeper as we gained attitude. The team came to appreciate the challenges of meeting their project goals in this difficult terrain! Luckily for us there was another science project coming out to the Prince Charles Mountains the next day by helicopter. We managed to use the helicopter to the best of our ability to maximise distance covered and to reduce walking distances, a great idea all around. As the samples were building up over the next few days we needed to think about relocating south to the Beaver Lake apple huts. The biggest consideration was supplies, as we were in lockdown with weather inappropriate for a 26 km walk to the southern camp. After two days of snow and wind (30 cm of snow) we packed up and moved further south, leaving the samples and camp gear behind for a later pick-up by helicopter.

The second part of the project work was sampling metaphoric rock on the southwestern side of Lake Radok. This was made easier with the lake having been frozen so we could cross it rather than walk around. There was also sedimentary rock that was being sampled on the northern side of the lake. Fortunately the weather behaved and we could cover the ground that needed to be sampled more quickly than the northern area as there was less snow covering the ground.

After 12 days we managed to eat our way through our field rations, carry nearly 700 kg of rock samples and walk over 180 kms. I was very impressed with the focus of the project team, their work ethic and their preference for eating copious amounts of noodles instead of ration packs.

James Hamilton

Arts and crafts


Celebratory barbecue