Hello everyone, we hope you're all keeping well. This week at Davis, ducting installed and floors painted, the commissioning of the hydroponics container, emergency response presentations, the southernmost furniture removalists in the world, climbing the walls and our Doc’s dozen.


Up in the waste water treatment plant, the ceiling works above the mezzanine level have progressed enough to allow the air handling plant to be located in its final position. This then has opened up access for the installation of the duct work to start. The majority of the duct had been moved into the building earlier in the week and it was with great excitement that Scott W was able to hang the first piece.

In the green store, Dave B and Rowdy have been busy working on painting the floor. This has taken considerable coordination from the team as floor painting, forklifts, and foot traffic don’t mix too well without getting that sticky yellow and crimson paint everywhere. There is still plenty of painting to go, but this has been a great start.


From little things, big things grow. So it is with hydroponics at Davis. Long a fixture of all of Australia’s continental research stations, hydroponics provides expeditioners with the prospect of fresh produce even in the depths of winter. This season, we faced a winter without hydroponics following the decommissioning of the container prior to last summer. However, thanks to the commitment and ingenuity of staff both here on station and at Kingston a new hydroponics container has been commissioned and renovated just in the nick of time.

Spearheading this effort on station has been Marc M, of ‘Team Dieso’ fame. With a professional background in hydro, Marc has undertaken the commissioning of our new container with a great sense of purpose. Ably supported by sparky Kevin M, chippy David B and assistant seed planter extraordinaire ‘Ducky', the team have renovated a 20ft former accommodation block (once the abode of our expeditioner Geoff W back in the 80’s) which now plays host to around 13 different varieties of herbs (including coriander, sweet basil, two types of parsley including curled and Italian flatleaf) and lettuces (iceberg, mignonette, watercress and cos).

As winter descends, these little seedlings lie resting in an oasis of warmth and light, eventually to supplement our meals giving us something green to look at and fresh to crunch on.

Stay tuned for more developments.

Emergency response training

As part of ongoing trainings for our expeditioners in their secondary capacity as members of the emergency response teams, Dr Jan W held a briefing on emergency medical response with a focus on what to do when you find yourself the first responder to a medical emergency. A run through of the medical equipment available for such a response on station and in the field was followed by practical demonstrations of patient assessments, handling and reporting.

SMQ makeover

For those of us who have at one time or another been compelled (or dragged) to Ikea on a Saturday morning for flatpacked furniture, well, imagine conducting that arduous journey from the carpark to your bedroom with that unwieldy bookshelf in −27°C, over snow, using a plastic sled (and it not being a flatpack).

Yesterday, David B set a group of us to work transporting the first of the new furniture modules from their shipping containers to rooms in the SMQ (sleeping and medical quarters), where they will be installed in a large-scale overhaul of the sleeping quarters internal furnishings.

Stay tuned for the next exciting instalment of the SMQ furniture makeover.

Climbing the walls

Knowing that expeditioners on station are spending an extended period of time in isolation and in a relatively confined environment, the Australian Antarctic Division has gone to great lengths to provide recreational opportunities that provide a bit of variety to life and reduce the desire to start ‘climbing the walls'. One such activity does literally involve climbing the walls though.

Constructed within the Davis green store is a climbing wall with a number of routes of varying difficulties. Two of our expeditioners, Adam C and Aaron C, both with previous climbing experience, have been trained to provide inductions to the wintering team and conduct climbing sessions which have fast become a weekly fixture here.

Doc’s Dozen

Aaron C. Electrician, SAR team member, ‘Stylist to the Stars', ‘Disney Musical Virtuoso'

Aaron this is your first trip to Antarctica, what brings you here?

Yeah, this is my first trip down. The idea to come Antarctica came to me on a quiet Friday evening, sitting at my home in the small town of Meringandan, QLD back in 2013. I was bored with my current situation. I had a great job, however with my 20s quickly leaving me I just felt like I needed a change in life. So after some online research, I registered my expression of interest and now in 2015 here I am.

What is it like being an electrician here Aaron, and if not an electrician what job would you do?

It’s really great. It offers a lot of interesting challenges that you just don’t experience back home. I must say I've never actually thought of what else I would do. As those who know me would be aware, I spend a lot of time criticising other trades (in good humour) so it would be difficult for me to choose another trade career other than electrical. Perhaps I would join the circus!

(Some might say you already have, Aaron.)

Best gig as an electrician?

Apart from coming to Antarctica, probably the highlight for me was when I was working in some remote Aboriginal communities on islands in the Northern Territory. To be in a place where most people would never have the opportunity to visit is pretty special — the scenery is truly amazing up there.

Best experience in Antarctica?

So far the best experience I have had down here is when two other friends and I went out on a five day hike around the Vestfold Hills (area around Davis station). The hike was quite physically demanding therefore I guess it’s not for everyone, however the combination of spectacular scenery and great company made it all the worthwhile. I really love its untouched beauty. There is something very special about walking on land that presumably no human has ever set foot on before.

Who inspires you?

My Grandfather. He has always been a great source of inspiration throughout my life.

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

I think the most important thing to living in a small community is to be considerate of others and to keep a positive outlook.

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

Hmm another tough one. I’d definitely be a diesel ute: cheap to run and low on maintenance, except of course if that diesel ute were to slip and fall on the sea ice moments after setting foot in Antarctica.

(Now Aaron, that is all in the past. You can move on.)

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

Large computer monitor/TV for sure.

Your hairdressing business here at Davis has been a roaring success. How did you decide on the name and do you have any plans to expand or create a franchise chain?

The name ‘DUCK COX’ was a simple mash up of the founder’s names, Duck Gillies and Aaron Cox. The business has been doing really well. The secret to our success is that we don’t have any competition, we also offer styles ahead of their time, provide boutique beer, witty jokes and intelligent conversation — for free.

Our favourite clients are the ones who say things like “Just shave it all off ” or “I usually cut my own hair”.

We are currently doing some feasibility studies into expansion in the other Antarctic stations, so who knows what the future may hold.

We at Davis have discovered that you are an avid animated Disney musical fan. Was this a big part of your childhood and is it something that you still enjoy today?

Ever since I sang the missing lyrics to the Lion King’s ‘Can you feel the love tonight’ at a summer trivia night I have been known as somewhat of a Disney musical virtuoso. Now, I may have been known to sneak into the cinema late some nights and watch the opening scene to the Lion King at full volume, however truth is I actually haven’t seen that many Disney musicals at all. My experience is basically limited the Lion King and Aladdin, and as of last week ‘Frozen'.

I must have seen each of these films perhaps 20–30 times during my child/adulthood and I still really enjoy them — they just don’t make Disney films like they used to.

We have also noted that you are quite the up and coming artist. Do you think there is a career change in the future for you?

Perhaps not quite a career change, but it’s a talent that I learned I had since being down here. My previous experience was basically drawing stick figures in cards to my Mum, although with the extra spare time down here I found I could produce some more detailed works. I surprised myself with the first sketch I had ever attempted. It was of the ‘Afghan girl’ from the famous 1980s National Geographic cover, which I entered in the Davis station ‘Arts & Crafts Show'. I have found drawing to be a real labour of love. Time seems to disappear when I draw and I hope to produce some more drawings with the time I have left here.

What is in store when you return home Aaron?

At this stage my plan is to return to my home town of Toowoomba and go to Uni full time to study electrical engineering. So we'll see what happens. I wouldn’t change things or be anyone else even if I had the opportunity. I find it so exciting to think of the future adventures and challenges that my own life has in store for me.

It never ceases to amaze me how we continue to discover hidden talents among our crew here at Davis, and Aaron is a shining example. What is there left to say except “Hakuna matata, Aaron”.