This week at Davis some of us talked to school children, visited nearby attractions, traveled to Watts Hut, and one of us celebrated a birthday.

Davis goes to school

On Wednesday morning the iPad on a tripod was ready to go early out on the decking outside operations here at Davis. It was still dark when Ali, Ladge and Aaron linked with several schools through DART (Distance & Rural Technologies) in order to answer their questions on living and working in Antarctica. They also got to look at their well thought out designs for Antarctic vehicles.

It was great to see so many enquiring minds excited at the prospect of talking to us down here. Possibly potential expeditioners of the future!

In the shadow of a glacier

In a land left behind in time, a group of three intrepid explorers and their trusty photographer headed out from station on a dull windy Friday afternoon for a place known as Watts Hut. It was a slow and arduous journey along the sea ice past the infamous Ellis Narrows before getting in to Ellis Fjord which was full of sastrugi. They finely made it to Watts Hutt at about 5:30pm and settled in for a nice hot dinner followed by sticky date pudding with hot custard. After dinner the TV was turned on and the aurora show begun lighting up the sky like nothing that can be seen at station. After a few hours of watching the call of a warm bed was too much and it was off to bed.

The next morning they rose early only to be met with the cry. ‘Arrrrrrrrrrrr special clouds’ yelled the photographer as he grabbed his camera and disappeared out the door not to be seen for a while. ‘Oh yes those’ said one of the others, ‘Saw them out there before’! They were talking about the nacreous clouds that have been occasionally seen in the sky from station recently. 

Once breakfast was done they headed off up Lake Druzhby, then up the frozen Tierney River on to Crooked Lake where they pulled up for smoko plus a few photos of the clear fresh water ice the lake has transformed into for the winter. From there it was onwards and upwards to Boulder camp and Grimmia Gorge.

From there the Hägg was left parked off the ice and the group headed off on foot up Grimmia Gorge. After taking some photos, the group made the difficult climb to the top of Boulder Hill to a spectacular uninterrupted view looking across the Vestfold Hills to the ocean, where icebergs could be seen, and back to the ice cliffs and the head of the Sørsdal Glacier. By then it was time to head back to Watts for an unwind and dinner. After dinner the same TV show was playing ‘Aurora Australis’, so it was back out with the cameras for some night photography until that warm bed was calling again.

After a sleep in on Sunday, it was a slow and steady trip back to station with a stop in at the Marine Plain Apples for lunch. Great trip had by all.

Chris Burns

August around Davis

This week Paul, John and myself headed out in search of some icebergs frozen in the sea ice. We headed out on the quad bikes under mostly sunny skies and made our way towards ‘the pillar’ iceberg. It can be seen from station and we have always questioned its height. As we approached the pillar we found it was larger than expected and was actually a long iceberg. Keeping our distance we walked around the iceberg. The pillar was approximately 20–30 metres tall, four metres wide and seven metres long. We tried our hardest to push it over (see image).

It was then off to Gardner Island. On the walk to the top we went through areas where the penguin colonies used to be in the summer. You can still smell them months after. Once at the top there was a great view across the sea ice towards the station, the Vestfold Hills and the plateau and in the opposite direction, icebergs trapped in the sea ice. You could also see the edge of the fast sea ice and open water towards the Sørsdal Glacier.

After that it was off to Anchorage Island with an even better view. Last week Chris, Vas and I went for a walk out to Anchorage Island after work. It was a very quick walk approximately 20 minutes over the sea ice. It was windy up top so we stayed just long enough to see the sun set over Bluff Island.

On the 12th of August I successfully captured the sun behind the three crosses on Anchorage Island. It was a magnificent sunset that illuminated the whole island. I've been waiting a few months for this photo.

On Tuesday I released my weather balloon as usual. Giving us a profile of the air above us, measuring temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction. Ascending through the atmosphere at around 300 metres per minute. As the balloon climbs we receive the data on our computer in the office. I had noticed that the wind speed of the balloon was getting faster and faster. Usually winds at a higher altitude provide a jet stream of air. However this balloon far out-reached anything imaginable. My balloon had reached a speed of 443 kms/hr at 32 kms above the earth’s surface. As you'll see in the photo below the Antarctic polar vortex forms during late winter to early spring. The winds circulating Antarctica in a clockwise direction. Another amazing Antarctic phenomena.

Aaron Stanley

A reason to celebrate

On Wednesday we helped Vas celebrate his birthday.

He chose a delicious crème brulee for his dessert treat — yum. Made expertly by chef Lesley, the glassy toffee coating smashed easily into smooth vanilla custard that was just melt in the mouth, scooped up with Goldie’s delicious crunchy almond biscotti.

Thanks for sharing and many happy returns from all of us Vas!