Hello everyone and goodbye to sunshine as this week the crew at Davis saw the sun dip below the horizon, not to reappear for some weeks to come and that’s ok. We've plenty of carrots. We also have some new additions to our station fleet of vehicles, some ropes for getting out of holes and the Doc’s dozen.

A return to WoopWoop

Last Thursday, seizing a weather window of relatively calm conditions, a team lead by Dennis B (senior dieso) and including Mark M (dieso), Scott W (chippy), Chris G (chippy), Aaron C (sparky), Rowdy (trades), James M (station leader) and Alex R (BOM) departed Davis for Woop Woop early in the morning with the aim of retrieving a range of vehicles and equipment left from the summer season’s aviation support operations.

Upon arriving at Woop Woop the team found the vehicles considerably beset by snow drifts. While a refuge was being prepared in one of the accommodation modules, the diesos set about conducting vehicle checks and heating the engine bays of the two groomers using Herman-Nelson heaters. Meanwhile, the remaining team members set to the task of excavating the blue Hägglunds oversnow vehicle, both groomers and the skid-steer with shovels. Alex (BOM) activated the WWP automatic weather station and serviced BOM equipment before assisting with vehicle recovery. The field team remained in regular radio contact with Davis station. By late afternoon, under the guidance of Dennis, the team had all vehicles up and running and were ready to return to Davis en convoy, proceeding at a steady pace of 12km/ph.

Conditions had remained mostly calm throughout the day with winds building in the evening, subsiding once off the plateau. On both the outward and return journeys the team were treated to the surreal experience of winding their way across the sea ice, through fields of large icebergs, their distant white sheer walls caught in the headlights of the passing vehicles.

With all AAD/BOM objectives completed for the day, the trip was a great success with thanks to all of the crew for their efforts. 

Search and rescue technical training

A group of Davis expeditioners were fortunate enough during summer to receive additional training in the technical aspects of rope rescue of a patient, if the need ever arises (and let’s hope that it never does). To maintain the knowledge that was learned during summer, regular trainings have been taking place.

This week the venue was the green store to practice in a controlled fashion. The focus was to refresh the knots and rigging used to lower or raise a patient and attendants. Later in the season the team will venture out for a field based exercise utilising all the skills required for a training scenario.

Last sunset

Australia’s southernmost outpost here at Davis has now descended into perpetual night time. The sun set for the last time on 2 June at 1420, but unfortunately we had a bit of a snow storm going on so we weren’t able to savour the moment. The next 38 days will be spent without the warming glow of the sun, but we will have some twilight during the middle of the days.

Our next sunrise is on 11 July at 1329 local time.

Doc’s Dozen

Geoffrey W, electrician, ‘Mahjong Monday’ club member

Geoffrey, is this your first trip to Antarctica?

No, my first attempt at coming south was when I was 21 and still an apprentice electrician — they didn’t want me. I persisted and after a trip to Europe I applied again and was lucky enough to get the summer of 1984/5. This was quickly followed with a winter in 1986. So, to be here at Davis now in 2015 makes me very lucky. Each trip has been to Davis, although I have been to Casey, Mawson and Heard Island (didn’t get of the boat at Heard Island). I was very lucky in my first trip south — all the expeditioners flew to South Africa and sailed from Cape Town on the maiden voyage of the Ice Bird.

What is it like being an electrician here?

The work ranges from the tedious periodical testing of equipment to “the main power house has just stopped” and when you walk in the door of the control room everyone looks at you. To be honest, just walking outside everyday is worth it. Also the lifestyle here is very simple. You might say it’s like living in a small village.

If not a sparkie, what job would you do?

When I was young it would have been a carpenter. Now that I’m not so young it would be a furniture maker.

Geoffrey, what would you say has been your best gig as a sparkie?

Working in the Antarctic of course.

What have been your best experiences in Antarctica?

I think it would be travelling to Amanda Bay in 1986, closely followed by a helicopter trip to the Larsemann Hills.

Who inspires you?

My father, he’s a good man.

(Doc. I agree. There are some good fellows in that family.)

What have you learned living in a small community?

There is always something to do. If you get a chance to do it, do it.

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

I feel like an old Land Rover Discovery, lots of faults but you just don’t want to get rid of it. I’d like to be a Bentley R-Type Petersen 6½ ltr Supercharged Road Racer (Google it).

What are the ‘must have’ items that you packed for Antarctica?

My wife (of course), closely followed by some single malt, an eReader and good walking boots.

(Doc. Glad to see I was on the top of the list!)

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

I would be me, but a me that can play music, speak other languages and spell.

Geoffrey, I have noticed that you actually spend a lot of time in the carpenter’s workshop. Are you a frustrated chippie or are you trying to ignore me?

Yes I have and yes I am (a frustrated chippie that is). Did you know that chippies don’t carry pagers?

What is in store when you return to home?

  • Try to get back into our house after our daughter and her Uni friends have been living there for a year.
  • Plan the next trip south.
  • Design a new house to live in.
  • Have a holiday, maybe walk the Larapinta trail.

Doc. Well Geoffrey, It is always lovely to learn something new about someone. I have to disagree on the Land Rover point though. It is time to get rid of it (the car, not you dearest one).