Hello everyone, welcome back to Davis for another week. We're delighted to announce that Davis has recorded a readership tallying over 8000 hits on this webpage and to those of you reading this at home and abroad we send our thanks for your continued interest. We hope to continue providing worthwhile reading. This week we introduce you to one of our lovable diesos, we triumph in the first round of the darts competition, walk into a ‘burning’ building, put our hands through walls, visit the dentist and get to the bottom of an international mystery. Enjoy!

15 minutes of fame: Mysterious lights

As recent records indicate, the activities of the 68th ANARE team here at Davis attract a fair amount of interest from people all around the globe who keep a close eye on the Antarctic Division’s website and webcams. Interests range from the personnel down here on station, to specialist fields in the trades and sciences, to the weather and environmental conditions. For others, monitoring the station’s webcams allows them to keep an eye out for errant UFOs or mysterious planets that they suggest are observable from such remote locations.

Several weeks ago, David B, Scotty, Sealy and Dennis headed off station for a rec trip, not knowing that their return to station would place them at the very centre of an internet mystery attracting over 20 000 hits on a YouTube posting, with a subsequent article in a popular French magazine. [Ed. This is what happens when you let diesos and chippies off. In late June a mysterious light had been spotted on the Davis station webcam some distance out on the sea ice from station.] The image was posted on YouTube and aroused interest and speculation from a like-minded group of individuals, eventually catching the eye of a French reporter from Paris Match, one of France’s most widely-read magazines.

Revelling in his newly quoted nom de guerre: ‘Le directeur de l’équipe de la station antarctique', James M sought to provide some perspective on the matter by responding with some observations of his own: that the light was actually emitted from the front of a Hägglunds tracked vehicle, evidenced by the location of the light relative to the waypoint line used by the Häggs on their journeys north; and that the shot was taken three minutes prior to a radio call logged from a Häggs announcing the team’s return to station.

There you have it folks, mystery solved. Our 15 minutes of fame.

At the dentist

Tooth trouble is unwelcome any time and dental problems in Antarctica pose special challenges as the next available dental appointment might be nine months away. Luckily all the station doctors undergo two weeks training in emergency dentistry prior to going south. Keeping up clinical skills can be difficult with so few patients to look after, so to assist maintaining those dental skills they have a little helper affectionately referred to as ‘Yorick’. Yorick is a slightly creepy looking dental mannequin who has a perfect set of teeth for x-ray practice and a set of replaceable, drillable and fillable teeth. Imagine if you could put an order in for a replacement molar in real life.

Every month Yorick gets pulled out of his case, has an x-ray taken and possibly a new filling. Our station Lay Surgical Assistants (LSAs) also act as dental assistants if required and need to get in a bit of practice as well. This week we all had fun training with Yorick and restoring his right lower 4th. He was a perfect patient as always and there were no complaints.


Works continue in the waste water treatment plant. The new air conditioning plant and duct work being installed will also provide air to the services building. Chris G provided carpentry services to cut out the penetrations between the two buildings and Brendan and Ducky set about installing the fire dampers and associated duct work. Works are still ongoing to complete the pipe, conduit, duct and dampers, and shortly Chris will be invited back to patch the extra large openings that were required to allow the plumbers access to completely fire-rate the works.

Whoa, I’m on fire

This week the Davis fire teams returned to the summer accommodation module (SAM) building for additional refresher training on conducting a primary search using a breathing apparatus (BA) kit. Planned and coordinated by fire chiefs, six pairs of BA-qualified expeditioners undertook a 10 minute primary search through the accommodation block. Plunged into darkness with smoke billowing down the corridors (courtesy of a smoke machine) and furniture re-arranged to create obstacles to be negotiated, the expeditioners made their way carefully and methodically through the complex searching not for mannequins this time, but for fluorescent markers to exercise their search skills. In addition to building their familiarity with BA kit, the exercise also reinforced their ability to conduct a room search, operate in pairs, and maintain good lines of communication. It was also a valuable opportunity for those expeditioners tasked with tank house duties, and those supporting the BA teams to run through their paces. A great job done by all.


Monday night saw Davis defeat Mawson in a closely-fought battle of darts. Mawson took out an early lead in the best-of-three competition with a 10 point victory. Davis hit back with a 48 point victory in game number two to build the tension for the deciding rubber. With the fighting spirit of Lleyton Hewitt (and a fortuitous 100 point ‘shanghai’ from our very own little Davey B), the third pairing won by 66 points to claim victory. Thanks to the Mawson team for a fun night, and well played team Davis. Macca, you're next!​

Doc’s Dozen

William S (Sealy): Dieso, seal counter, station hugs officer

Sealy, is this your first trip to Antarctica?

Yes, this is my first trip to Antarctica. For years I have wanted to come to Antarctica. Back in the early 1990s I was talking to a guy that was going to apply to come down here as a dieso, which pricked my interest so many years ago. I was too late to apply for last year’s season but when the applications opened for this year’s — I was applying! Before my wife and I were married, both of us said we wanted to come to work in Antarctica. I’m hoping both of us can come down together, even for a summer.

What is it like being a dieso here?

It can be full on. On our first weekend on station after the Aurora Australis left, at 5:30am the fire alarm rang. It turned out that one of the generators had dropped a valve. Not much rest that weekend. Usually we are kept steadily chipping away at the Maximo generated jobs, everything from quad bike servicing and repairs to my personal favourite (NOT!), JCB servicing. We are also called on to clear snow and operate machines to help other trades out.

[Doc: Dropping valves is definitely to be avoided if possible.]

If not a dieso, what job would you do?

On station? Well chippy wouldn’t be too bad — no pagers or alarms you have to respond to and you’re on fire team for one week in three — that’s not bad either.

[Doc: No one ever wants my job. It’s not too bad you know. Maybe it’s getting close to bodies on no-shower days that put people off.]

Best gig as a dieso?

Every long trip has to have a dieso with it. I’m looking forward to the traverses later this year. So far, travelling on quads to Watts Hut a few weeks ago as the only dieso was great. We had to try some different techniques to get the quads started in the −30°C cold it was down there.

Best experience so far in Antarctica?

Field travel training. Standing at Walkabout Rocks and reading the tablet inside Sir Hubert Wilkins’ Cairn. Not many people get to go there. Quite a remote area.

What do you love about Antarctica, Sealy?

The diverse wildlife, beautiful scenery and it is full of like-minded, fantastic people. Every day something changes. From full 24 hours of daylight to no sun other than the slight glow to the north. When the sea ice blew out and the first elephant seal lumbered onto the beach a few days later.

Sealy, who inspires you?

Sir Hubert Wilkins. Not many Australians know anything about him — an unsung hero and Australian Antarctic legend.

[Doc: I totally agree Sealy. I think he might have been a bit of a cheeky fellow with a taste for action as well. How else do you manage to be awarded a Military Cross with bar when you are a photographer?]

What have you learned living in our little community at Davis, Sealy?

  1. Don’t slam cold porch doors. Shut them with two hands, or one. Someone may be sleeping at odd hours of the day.
  2. Get involved. Even if you don’t really feel like it, it might pick you up when you need it.
  3. Be tolerant of others

[Doc: To be honest Sealy, I think all the door slammers have gone home.]

If you were a car, what car would you be? …or is that too hard a choice for a dieso?

A Giocattolo — A Holden V8 powered Alfa GTV. Small but extremely quick and handles extremely well. Only a few were ever made — 12 production cars and 3 prototypes.

What is the ‘must have’ item that you packed for Antarctica?

A good DSLR camera. Mine is an oldie but a goodie!

If you could be someone else, who would it be?

Sir Hubert Wilkins

Sealy, what is in store when you return to home?

Not really looking forward to heading back to an Australian summer. I might have to stay south and work my way back north slowly to reacclimatise. Then maybe some travel, definitely some job hunting.

Great interview Sealy, and we didn’t even get around to talking about elephant seals, State of Origin or hugging. It will just have to wait until next time.