Terry’s work to repair the Hobart dishwasher and a day as slushy.

What if I told you, you could wash the dishes another way…?

So the dishwasher broke down this week at Davis station – much to the dismay of the slushy.

For those who don’t know what a slushy is, I will explain. It’s pretty much a kitchenhand and all 18 of the winter team here are rostered on in rotation to give Chef Rocket a hand.

The first line of defense from the cold outside is a full stomach, and Rocket comes through every day with some great meals, so a day every couple of weeks in the kitchen is the least our team can do.

It starts at 8 am in the morning and your day follows like this:

  • Start to clean and tidy the mess after breakfast and fill up the dishwasher.
  • Tidy away newspapers, iPads and wipe down the tables.
  • Fill up cereal containers and make fresh (powdered) milk to fill up the fridge from powder milk in the storeroom.
  • Mop the dining room floor and then clean the toilets.
  • Clean the coffee machine, toasters and sandwich areas.
  • By this time the chef has amounted a pile of pots and pans cooking lunch, so it’s back to the dishwasher.
  • Lunch is served and then cleaned away by an understanding work team.
  • Back to washing pots and pans and helping the chef with dinner preparation.
  • Top up consumables in the dining room area, such as tea, coffee, milo, bread, butter, condiments.
  • Complete other kitchen cleaning/maintenance work as instructed by the chef.
  • The tension rises as hungry people finish work, smell what’s cooking and start roaming around the dining room. Everything is served on time every night at 6 pm.
  • Then it’s the big clean up after dinner, leftovers in the fridge, everything washed and put away for tomorrow and the rubbish is put out.

There are three saving graces to a slushy’s day.

First, you choose the music playlist that is broadcast around the station which everyone listens to.

Second, you choose the movie that night in the cinema.

Third, we have a dishwasher. Well… not this week.

The faithful dishwasher that never gets turned off 365 days a year had a breakdown and said “I wash no more”. It was left to me to fix it. 

As I disassembled it to find the fault, the more disassembled it got the seriousness across station mounted at the prospect of ‘how do we wash the dishes without a machine?’

Luckily, we have some of the older generation on station that could re-teach memories of hand washing and an invention called a tea towel. This plan was put into action after I admitted there was no quick fix. The fault was found in a small leaking tank in the bowels of the machine. Attempts were made to repair this tank but the metal was just too fatigued.

Every day that passed a new slushy turned up to work to the ‘Out of Service’ sign and a longer day. With the next resupply and physical contact to the outside world in six months time, a new one needed to be constructed!

On station we have all kinds of machinery and materials in different workshops, not unlimited like a hardware store, but with the right eye and the wealth of knowledge that everyone brings with them down here, there’s probably nothing that can’t be fixed between us.

So, a new identical tank was formed, wielded and installed to our dishwasher. I was quite happy with the results, shame no one can see it hidden in the bowels of the machine so I’ve added a photo. In total the dishwasher was out of action for four days. Will this become one of the great survival stories of the Antarctic? I doubt it, but as I write this on my laptop this evening I know I will wake up tomorrow morning to my turn being slushy and the dishwasher is working ha ha ha!

Cheers, Terry Barrell