It seems like only yesterday we were sailing down the Derwent on our way to Davis station, back on October 25 last year. Now here we are, four months later, eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Aurora Australis to whisk away the summer team and leave us with the much smaller winter contingent. 25 expeditioners will brave the cold Antarctic winter and keep Davis running until next season’s program can commence around October 2020.
The highlights? There are too many to include them all, but as Station Leader there are a few perks to the job. The opportunity to represent the Australian Antarctic Program and visit some of our neighbours over in the nearby Larsemann Hills on multiple occasions (including an incredible flight over the multitude of glaciers and icebergs in between) would have to be up there.
A very close second, and much closer to said icebergs, is the opportunity to take the small IRBs (inflatable rigid boats) out and go on an evening ‘iceberg cruise’. It’s simply breathtaking to witness the truly remarkable scenery and wildlife of Antarctica up close and personal, made even better by the constant sunset conditions of the February sun.
To run the numbers on what a summer season at Davis entails, here are just some of the stats:
Peak population: 95
Helicopter flights: 718
Fixed wing flights (Twin Otter and DC-3 Basler): 51
Weather Observations: 1717
And the all-important: bacon consumed — 170kg!
The station wouldn’t run without the tireless efforts of so many expeditioners: the amazing chefs, sparkies, mechanics, plumbers, plant operators, weather forecasters, weather observers, pilots, helicopter engineers, aircraft engineers, aircraft ground crew, comms operators, watercraft operators, field training officers, station supply officers — the list is endless!
It’s all about achieving the science and understanding more and more about this amazing continent each year, so a big thank you to the teams of eco-toxicologists, benthic ecologists, lake samplers, glaciologists, surveyors, hydrographers, geotechnical engineers and other specific scientific specialities I cannot pronounce! Thank you, and keep up the good work.
It’s an honour and a privilege to lead such an amazing team of expeditioners down here at Davis, I wish all the departing summer team a safe journey back north and look forward to the quieter pace of winter with those of us left behind. Never a truer use of the term “Winter is Coming”…
David Knoff, Davis Station Leader