There is so much happening at Davis, as usual. We invite you to take a look at how expeditioners work and play in and around Davis station.

Tarn pump-out

Unlike the other Australian Antarctic Division stations who have melt lakes or rain water for consumption, here at Davis it’s more a case of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner: “Water, water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink.” We draw water from the station tarn through our reverse osmosis (RO) plant to remove the salt and then it’s sent up to storage tanks to supply us for the year.

A downside to this process is the fact that over time the tarn becomes hyper saline, thus making the RO plant less efficient. To overcome this, periodically there is a need to drain the hyper saline water from the tarn in preparation for refilling it with sea water.

This week a team of expeditioners performed the task of pumping out the tarn. Set up and pumping started on Wednesday and continued around the clock until the weather became too hazardous on Friday evening. All went very well with great support from Sealy in team dieso for the couple of times the pump had a hissy fit.

We now look forward to the bigger job of pumping seawater into the tarn to refill it.​

Birdman ‘Bgan’s'

Thirty five thousand kilometres above the Democratic Republic of Congo spins six tonnes of highly sophisticated electronics, beaming and receiving our weak satellite signals all the way from the Antarctic. Like a virtual string tether our Broadband Global Area Network (BGAN) satellite terminal lies in waiting (just in case) as the back-up to the mighty seven metre ANARESAT dish parked out the back of the operations building.

The tiny half metre BGAN dish is pointed at one degree above horizontal skimming data at one and a half million kilohertz to a giant satellite 40,000 kilometres away. The wonders of modern communication never stop amazing me. The BGAN link can bring emails, link essential medical facilities and provide phone services to the most inhospitable and distant parts of the earth’s surface.

My job this week was to fine tune our back-up satellite and house it in a comfortable warm building for that ‘just in case’ moment further ensuring a safe and unbroken tether to home base at head office in Kingston.

Greg B, Davis’s senior communications technical officer (SCTO)

Ed. Thanks Birdman! truly you are the magician behind the magic.

Around station

Lay surgical training

Our four lay surgical assistants (LSAs) Vicki, Adam, Chris and Clifton (Rowdy) undergo regular refresher training on station with Dr Jan. This week they were all back in theatre practicing the skills that they learned during their two weeks of training at the Royal Hobart Hospital a year ago. (Where did that time go?!) Their replacements are doing the same training back in Hobart now.

There are so many exciting machines and bits of equipment in the medical facility it is hard to know what to pull out and play train with. This week it was time to practice with the surgical tourniquets, the diathermy machine, the suction options, the monitoring machine, the anaesthetic machine and the ventilator.

It is always more fun to dress up so Vicki practiced donning the sterile theatre garb and helped Clifton count all the instruments.

The expeditioners of Davis are in good hands.

Ed. Thanks Jan!

She’s apples

Each week the station leader rosters people on to complete duties that support the community in ways which are outside our normal roles, known locally as ‘Saturday duties'. This can range from cleaning communal areas, to sorting rubbish and recycling, through to one called ‘see chef'. This week Sealy and Ducky presented to the chef on Saturday for their tasking, and this is where things turned juicy for the pair.

The job at hand was to juice the remaining apples on station as they were getting past their prime. If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, these guys will be well and truly fine for the rest of the season.

A day on Druzhby with Ducky and Aaron

Where had the weekend gone already?! Not going to miss our chance on such a beautiful Sunday, Aaron and I packed the quad bikes and set off on a day trip to Watts Hutt and Lake Druzhby. Our mission: meet up with the field party and share in some of their fine gluten free foods we had seen them prepare days earlier. The only problem was, they didn’t know we were coming and had already headed off on their own day trip.

Following their tracks in a game of cat and mouse, where the mouse didn’t even know it was a mouse, led us to the beautiful frozen lake that is Druzhby. We also went up to the end of the way points at the base of the Trajer ridge line and across to the equally spectacular Crooked Lake. Unfortunately for us, as if sensing our hunger the field party eluded us and we eventually gave up and settled for the peace, tranquillity and beautiful scenery of Ellis Fjord over half a muesli bar each. And I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Ed. Good on you Ducky. Making the most of it as always.

Trip to Watts Hut

For Chris, Dennis, James and The Birdman, venturing out to Watts hut last weekend, any thoughts of an early departure on Friday (to beat the traffic) were blanketed by several days worth of heavy snowfall. By late Saturday afternoon the weather had cleared so the group, led by Chris, wound their way down along the coast and up Ellis Fjord to Watts hut.

The following day, with clear blue skies and incredibly temperate conditions, they ventured out onto Lake Druzhby, which was frozen into a stunning “emerald with a touch of turquoise, and streaks of glinting diamond fissures.” Ed. thanks Birdman.

After inspecting the Crooked Lake apple field hut the team headed northeast to the far end of the lake, to Boulder Hill where an emergency depot of food and supplies is tucked securely in between the rocks leading from the gully. The weather was truly kind to us on that day as we chased the sun, creeping behind the hills and ravines of the Broad Peninsula back towards Watts, over glimmering blue ice, noting the tracks of Aaron and Ducky who’d been pursuing us on quads.

Again the next day was blessed by good weather, and the crew journeyed home to station but not before a detour down to the opening of Crooked Fjord to view the Sørsdal Glacier in all its glory. For the Birdman, this was his first unimpeded view of the mighty ice walls and the fields of broken chunks of glacier rising out of the frozen fjord. An unforgettable trip.

Doc’s Dozen

Kevin M, Maintenance Electrician, Station Flag Officer

Kev, is this your first trip to Antarctica? What brings you here?

Yes this is my first trip to Antarctica and the ship Aurora Australis brought me here. But seriously I thought it would be nice to have a change of scenery as it would probably be a little different from outback Australia.

What is it like being a sparkie here?

Being a sparkie here is great. There is a good variety of interesting work, in fact I am still learning from some of the equipment we have around the station. And the people here are really helpful.

Best gig as a sparkie so far Kev?

I have been so lucky in my chosen trade. I have had the opportunity of working in Singapore, Malaysia and Alaska, as well as outback Australia, underground, offshore and now on a station in Antarctica. I really have had some wonderful opportunities.

What do you love about Antarctica?

It is so different, just when you thought you have seen it all, the sun may reflect off an iceberg in a different way and the whole landscape changes, or a seal or penguin just pops out of the water right in front of you, and then it can all change again in a matter of a few minutes.

Who inspires you?

I don’t know if anyone really inspires me, but I found the scientists that come down to Antarctica very interesting to talk to. They are so passionate about their work, and don’t mind explaining it to you. Many of them [students] put in very long hours for which they don’t get paid, as they really just enjoy their work.

Kev, what have you learned living in our little Davis community?

I have worked in small communities before, and one thing about small communities they are full of characters.

If you were a car Kev, what sort do you think you would be?

If I was a car I would probably be an old Holden Ute, not real flash, but just goes.

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

A camera. Even if you are not into photography there are certainly some images down here that one day you may want to look back on and recall how lucky you were to have had this experience.

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

Not really sure, but you would have to say Jake Wall has done alright for himself, and so has Hugh Hefner for an old bloke. Also what about Carlos Slim and Bill Gates, haven’t they invested their pocket money wisely.

The footy tipping has been a closely fought battle on station this season. With only three weeks to go who do you think will be victorious Kev?

The money would have to be on Sealy. In fact in the early rounds of the competition I thought Sealy would be the one to beat. But how good is Damo, especially with his unique way of tipping, he certainly isn’t the worst tipster.

What is in store when you return to home?

Not really sure. No doubt there will be a barbie happening somewhere, surrounded by friendly flies and mozzies.

Doc: Ah yes, the real world: insects, viruses, rodents, marauding possums in the roof, the great ‘Aussie Salute’, traffic, Volvo drivers, supermarkets, telemarketing, TV advertising…when are the applications open again?

Thank you for your thoughts and insights, Kev. I must personally commend you on the performance of your flag duties. As you might have guessed, I am a bit fussy about flags and even though you beat me to the job I don’t think I would have been able to keep up the standards that we have seen from you. I salute you.