Greg B, aka Birdman, SCTO (Supervising Communications Technical Officer)
Birdman, how many trips have you done to Antarctica and what attracted you down here?
Well this first trip to the continent. I've previously completed a summer winter summer at Macca (Macquarie Island) in ‘12, ‘13 and ‘14. As a teenager I was a member of the Launceston Walking Club and saw a slide show from a bloke called Bob Stow, who had just returned from a winter in Antarctica. His slides were breathtaking and I decided then and there I’d be going there one day.
What is it really like being the Comms Tech here?
That’s a very interesting question. Since the introduction this winter of the one tech model, I have been surprised how much harder it’s been to complete even the smallest of tasks. I enjoy the work, particularly chasing down why something has gone wrong with a system, fixing it and making sure it doesn’t happen again, but with only one of you I think it takes three or four times longer than when it did when there are two techs to work on it.
If not a Comms Tech, what job would you do?
Semi-retirement, but I’m pretty sure when I get back from this stint I’ll go back to Uni and study for a Bachelor of Paramedic Practice. Not sure where it will take me, but having travelled the world training lifeguards, there are a lot more skills to take to less fortunate communities than ours in Australia. In between that, I’ll try my hand at scuba diving guiding at Bicheno.
Doc: I’m glad we haven’t had to put your medical skills to the test this winter.
Best gig in ICT?
I really enjoyed my many careers in Telstra. My last 12 years in Telstra as a business solution architect was very rewarding on bleeding edge technology. They were great times and I was fortunate to receive a couple of national innovation awards for telemetry solutions using mobile phones and one slightly different remote control of water and waste water treatment, info displays, surveillance cameras and control systems of the Cradle Mountain National Park. Quite a challenge in a world heritage area. Next time you walk on the duck boarding, take a closer look…
Doc: What! Do you mean that someone was watching me there?
What has been your best experience in Antarctica, Birdie?
There are quite a few, although it took six weeks to get to Davis on V3 (voyage three), the experience of the changes along the way are unforgettable. First ride on a quad on the sea ice, that was pretty special. Ellis Narrows at −37°C air temp, giving off steam from the warmer tidal flow. Sunsets in April.
Doc: Yes, it is hard to pick a favourite at beautiful Davis.
What do you love about Antarctica?
Stunning scenery, raw environment, icebergs in sea ice.
Who inspires you?
Paul Keating, inventors.
What have you learned living in a small community?
If you were a car, what car would you be, and if you could be someone else, who would it be?
Range Rover and no idea.
What is the ‘must have’ item that you packed for Antarctica?
As one of the three expeditioners on station born in 1959, can you enlighten us about the ‘59ers club (its status, privileges, influence and power etc)?
Ah well, there is an implied hierarchy for the ‘59ers. Does the station leader think he’s in charge? Well…
Doc: I think we will need to discuss this further Birdman. Station leader: Hmmm…
What is in store when you return to home Birdie?
Grandchildren, finishing off a house rebuild started before I came down to Davis.
Well Birdman, as our OCTO (Only Communications Technical Officer) I have to say that your skills are highly valued and life just wouldn't be the same without our morning papers and puzzles.