This week at Davis, we talk trash and trips, our plumbers do what had to be done, our Doc does her dozen and, it snows. Happy days. Best wishes to all of you.

Plumbing the depths

The plumbers this week decided to tackle one of the less desirable jobs for the season: the annual inspection and clean of the sleeping and medical quarters (SMQ) sewer holding tank. This meant that one of the team had to draw the short straw and get into the tank. Ducky was the ‘winner’ of the lucky door prize.

During this task, a split in one of the discharge pipes was discovered and had to be repaired. The pipe was disconnected and taken up to the workshop to be fixed. It was replaced and the pump was run again. Unfortunately, the pump has now decided to not be interested in playing the game. Works continue to get this pump back up and running. 

The gash run

As mentioned previously, each Saturday here some of the expeditioners at Davis are rostered on for Saturday duties. One of these duties is garbage collection known as ‘the gash run’ and it generally entails a tour of the work sites, living quarters and kitchen to collect waste that can either be disposed of in the incinerator here on Davis, or returned to Australia at the end of the season.

Over summer it’s a question of borrowing the kitchen’s ute for an hour or so but once the snows have begun to settle on the station, the gash run becomes a little more complicated as this week’s garbage collectors Dennis B and James M found out.

Trip to Watts hut

On the 28 March, as the station settled into its winter routine, four of our expeditioners stepped out from Davis on one of the last walking trips of the season. Led by trip leader Aaron C, the team otherwise consisted of Ducky (Aaron’s trusted 2IC), Marc M and James M. In early Saturday afternoon sunshine the group headed out east along Dingle road before cutting south beside Ripple Lake and then eastwards along Snake Lake and the South side of Bela Hill, following the lakes to where Prospect Gap meets Ellis Fjord. Crossing Ellis rapids early evening they reached Watts hut in time for the evening radio call, and dinner.

‘Resting upon a base of railway sleepers and rocks’ Watts hut was originally erected on site in 1976 of red painted cement sheets attached to a timber framing. The hut has had multiple extensions over the years and many visitors as evidenced by the hut log.

With the nightly radio check to Davis complete, the vent shafts open and gas flowing to the stove and heater, the group settled in to preparing dinner and swapping tales. Venturing outside later they found the plummeting overnight temperatures took their breath away, as did the spectacular green aurora display that spread across the sky.

In the morning, fortified by a homemade energy drink of his own creation, Aaron C rallied the troops for the return leg to Davis. Again, brilliant blue skies and light winds made the walk much easier. On the way north towards Lake Dingle, the group stumbled across the missing gloves of an earlier field party and returned to Davis as heroes.

A very good stretch of the legs, thanks gents.

Station under snow

Doc’s Dozen

Tina D —  Meteorological Forecaster, Up and Coming Rock Star

Tina, how many trips have you done to Antarctica and what lures you back here?

This is my second summer season at Davis. I was also here the 2013/14 summer. I’m a meteorologist that enjoys extremes.

What is it like being a weather forecaster here?

In some ways it’s much the same as back on the mainland. Shift work, interpreting model and observation data, preparing forecasts etc. In other ways it’s very different. It’s a much smaller group here, only two forecasters and three observers on station. We certainly don’t get much practice forecasting snow or surface and horizon definition back in South Australia. You get to work directly with your clients here so there is instant feedback! Some good, some not so. There is no escaping a bad forecast.

If not a weather forecaster what job would you do?

Professional Rock Star!

Best gig as a weather forecaster?

This one for sure! Working in Antarctica has definitely been the highlight of my career so far. It’s pretty amazing when your boss tells you to stop what you are doing because there are 50 penguins out the window.

What is your best experience in Antarctica Tina?

I was lucky enough early this season to go out on a Hägglunds trip. Our driver spotter an emperor penguin in the distance, so we stopped to take some pictures. The emperor slid right up to us on his belly. Next thing you know, I turn around and a little Adélie was right beside me too. Such curious creatures. The landscape here is amazing. Seeing the change in the environment is also very special. When we got here there was ten kilometres of sea ice, thick enough to drive on. Now it’s all open water. I’m very jealous of the winterers that will get to see the sea ice reform and be able to walk and ride on it again.

Who inspires you Tina?

I consider myself a somewhat of a modern day feminist. I work with some very busy and very intelligent people back home. In an industry that was once very male dominated, it’s great to see more women represented in my workforce and achieving great things.

(Doc: Good for you Tina. I just have to mention that Polar Medicine is way ahead this year with four female wintering doctors. We call ourselves the ‘spICE GIRLS’.)

What have you learned living in a small community?

How to close doors quietly! It’s the small things that make a big difference when living in a small community for an extended time.

We have enjoyed your performances in the Davis band this summer, do you think there is a possible future career in the music industry?

So this is where I get to plug my band! A couple of months before coming down here, I recorded an EP with my band back in Adelaide. We're a three piece pop/rock band called ‘The ReadyMades.' When I get home we are hoping to have an EP launch. If I could be someone else it would be Beyonce. What a woman. I wish I could sing like that!
(Doc: Well, if jobs in weather ever run out I’m sure there is a new career path there for you, Tina.)

Why do you think weather forecasters have such a bad reputation when we all see what lovely people you are?

Really? Do we have a bad reputation?

Grantland Rice sums it up nicely in his verse ‘The Met'.

“And now among the fading embers,
These in the main, are my regrets,
When I am right no one remembers,
When I am wrong no one forgets."

As a co-member of the Davis Social Committee, what do you think the social highlights have been so far this year?

Christmas was great! It got many people involved in different ways. The food, setting up the decorations and of course Santa along with his reindeer, helpers and a customised Antarctic sleigh.

New Year’s Eve was a personal favourite as it coincided with my birthday. We had a disco/night club. I love dancing! Again, a big effort by the whole station in preparation for the night, reconfiguring the bar, lights and music. By the hour before midnight I think we had most people in dancing. Lots of people in a small space, seemed just like a real night club.

If you were a car, what car would you be?

VW Golf. Compact and stylish. (Doc: Very much like you Tina.) I giggle every time I see the ad: In labour, on the way to the hospital: “Oh no, we'll take the Golf.”

What is your must have item that you pack for Antarctica?

A good little tip I got from a previous Antarctic forecaster was facial moisturiser. The air down here is so dry. In fact, I even got one of the departing scientists to leave me her spare tub in case I ran out before the end of the season.

(Doc: What another crowd pleasing performance from our ‘Tiny Tina'. I so agree with you about the skin moisturiser. My cubic metre baggage allowance was barely enough for my skin cream.)