Under fresh snowfalls we at Davis give greetings to you all. This week, the station commemorates National Reconciliation, our lay surgical assistants put Scotty ‘under the knife', our field parties head south to Watts hut and Crooked Fjord. Davo cleans up in darts and the crew get stuck into plastering and furniture exchange. Best wishes to you all.

Flags flown for National Reconciliation Week

This week Davis commemorates National Reconciliation Week by flying the Australian Aboriginal and the Torres Strait Islander flags (thanks to our flag bearer Kev M).

“National Reconciliation Week focuses on how Australians can better recognise each other, and recognise the contributions, cultures and histories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”

More information



After many years good service, the bedroom furniture in the sleeping and medical quarters (SMQ) has finally come to the end of its life. This year we have the task of replacing the old bedroom suites with brand new pieces designed for more storage, better functionality, and expeditioner comfort. The team have been busy moving new pieces in and some of the old out in preparation.

One ‘display' room has been set up to near completion so that we can see how it will all come together. We now eagerly await all the rooms being changed as a rolling project over the winter season.

The team up in the waste water treatment plant are continuing on with plaster works. The ring main unit ceiling is near completion and one of the internal walls is partially complete (albeit from the top down).

LSA training

On each station there are four expeditioners who undergo a two week special training course in theatre at the Royal Hobart Hospital to enable them to assist the station doctor if required. Our four lay surgical assistants (LSAs) here at Davis this year are a chippie (carpenter), an electronics engineer, a weather observer and a general trades expeditioner. It is a very steep learning curve for them to walk off the street and after two weeks training be competent to take on the role of scrub nurse or anaesthetic nurse in an operation.

The theatre environment on station is different to the hospital so the training is ongoing throughout the year. This week in training we had a full theatre scenario with a real live ‘patient’ (chippie, Scotty W) who underwent surgical removal of his ‘appendix’ (rolled up bits of chicken skin).

After a little bit of abdominal wall enhancement, Scotty W was wheeled into theatre and went under the knife in the name of polar medicine. The team performed superbly, the offending (fake) appendix was duly removed, stitches put into place, dressing applied and the patient made a very rapid recovery. Success!

PS. Sincere thanks to Scotty for being such a good sport and not complaining too much. The chickens used in this production had already undergone harm and didn’t complain at all.

A weekend at Watts: my first quad adventure

Can you imagine the knife cutting cold of −35°C air whipping at your face through a helmet, bumping along an open expanse of white cold snow spattered with island landscape on a trusty steed set upon four balloon-like tyres, steaming hot hand grips cocooned in fleece-lined covers? Nothing else can describe quad travel in the Antarctic! But here I am travelling south with three companions with the most exhilarating feeling of man and beast against the elements. Our goal: Watts hut for the night, a secluded lodge among the Vestfold Hills with a picture view of the frozen Ellis Fjord. Turning east off the sea ice expanse of Prydz Bay, we turn the quads and head up the Ellis Fjord, our first obstacle the Ellis Narrows. We negotiated these at a safe distance from the pot boil of furious flowing fjord water escaping the suffocating frozen cap to breath and tumble through −35°C air. This phenomenon emanates a mysterious fog rolling high above the narrows marking a treacherous reach of liquid death.

Now with icicles forming on battered eyelashes we forge ahead along the frozen expanse, stopping occasionally to capture the mottled light along the edges of the tide cracked fjord. Our arrival at Watts hut brings a relief to our ice-covered faces. The gas furnace heater is brought to light with a whoosh and slowly the hut is released from the grip of a frozen landscape. Hiding inside, my companions and I watch longingly as steak and kidney pies rise and brown like golden nuggets only an Antarctic expeditioner can understand. A fabulous night was had by all including aurora photos and, a lake and moon rise. What a spectacular place!

The following morning, we were greeted by four rigid quad bikes. With oil like treacle, our resident dieso, Sealy, weaved his magical mechanical skills to warm our trusty steeds to fire into life and take us on another journey beyond Watts hut to Lake Druzhby, a winding picturesque landscape among the Vestfold Hills.

Gregory ‘Birdman’ B 

Alas we had consumed half our quad bikes fuel reluctantly we turned their heads for home. Home safe and sound at Davis station, my first quad bike adventure I’ll never forget.   

To Woop Woop

Four intrepid expeditioners, Sealy (dieso extraordinaire), Dave (building services supervisor), Marc (dieso ‘Ice Lord') and Birdman (communications technical officer) seized on a window of calm freezing weather and left Davis station for the remote ski landing area ‘Woop Woop', to prove the route and look at retrieval/maintenance of vehicles and communication equipment winterised until November’s flying season.

This being the first Hägglunds trip on the sea ice, strategic ice depth drilling along the way made for steady progress. Floating atop the snow covered sea ice, the yellow Hägg reached the monolith of the great white continent. Birdman, with stealth like poise and the homing skills of a pigeon, navigated yellow Hägg across the blue ice expanse. Bronze mirage shimmering greeted the travellers on the plateau, signalling the start of a brief but warming visit of the sun.

In the great white expanse, navigating by GPS is essential and soon, in the distance, the remote camp of Woop Woop came into view. Cocooned in goose down jackets, Birdman and Dave quickly inspected vital infrastructure of the site, while Marc and Sealy checked for vital signs that giant machines will leap into life.

After a quick lunch of warm soup and sandwiches, and with Sealy in the driver’s seat, the four headed off for the warmth and security of Davis station, a successful trip behind them.

Greg ‘Birdman’ B 

A Sunday drive

The sun was shining, barely a cloud in the sky, only a breath of wind and a balmy −35°C — it was a good day for an outing. Packing toasted sandwiches, chocolate and a couple of thermoses, Damian T, Mark D, Aaron C and James M headed off on a Sunday drive to Crooked Fjord at the southernmost edge of the station operating area.

Passing through the Donskiye Islands and down along the coast off the Mule Peninsula, the team took several sea ice measurements to ascertain thickness before driving in along the northern edges of Crooked Fjord, until the condition of the sea ice in front of us slowed progress. To the south of us stood the edge of the Sørsdal Glacier ”…one of the key polar outlet glaciers that contributes to the drainage of the East Antarctic ice sheet” (source) rising up from the fjord glowing a brilliant orange in the early afternoon.

A quick picnic lunch, some happy snaps and some foot stomping to get the blood flowing to the feet and it was time to go home. Heading northwards once again with the sun almost setting, the field party happened to rendezvous with the returning Watts hut party a kilometre or so off station, completing the final leg en convoy.

Good company, some stunningly beautiful scenery and then home to a hot meal, and booties. Happy days.

Station darts competition

The inter-station darts competition is fast approaching so we needed to decide who will be on our team to take the title of “The world’s best Australian darts team in Antarctica”. A draw was devised by an unnamed person, and as no one could actually understand how it worked Dave B had to explain it to us. Many times. Many, many times.

Somehow we got down to a final two competitors: Mark D and Adam C. Following on from his good form in the first round/first elimination/second chance/preliminary final/lucky loser/semi-final rounds (Dave, can you explain it one more time please?) Mark D came out on top to claim the title of captain. Look out world*, here we come!

 *the other stations