Field travel training and an interview with a BOM Met Tech

Macca expeditioners step into the field

The first group of Macca expeditioners head down island on field travel training. Returning expeditioner Dr Mal Vernon reflects of his experience.

“I know you’ve done it before Vernon but things change.”

Secretly I think to myself, thank God, it’s such fun. Field training is a right of passage for anyone who wants to leave station limits for work or pleasure. It’s a professionally guided tour so what’s there not to like.

It’s a learning curve about safe processes so you return to station in one piece. After all it is the wilderness out there wherever you are in the Australian Antarctic Program.

Two thoughts I take away from training philosophically are:

  1. Be comfortable, part of the trip is sorting your gear out i.e. what works/what doesn’t, stop to rest, change layers, eat and drink, check out how your mates are travelling. 
  2. It’s the journey not the destination. If you take care of point one, two takes care of itself.

There is also a process:

  • Station Leader and work supervisor approval needed for the exercise. 
  • Training from compass and map reading to reading the geography. 
  • Care of the land in staying to prescribed tracks and when off track how the group travels. Until you get experience your trip leader is your font of knowledge. 
  • Equipment is a big ticket item from clothes to communications to carbon monoxide monitors in the huts.

It’s an exciting experience opening the door to further adventures.

Dr Mal Vernon — Antarctic Medical Practitioner

Five minutes with George, BOM Met Tech

A catch up with 1/3 of our Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) team on station.

Name: George Brettingham-Moore

Nicknames: None to my face.

Where are you From: Tassie

Previous seasons? Macca 16/17 and Casey ‘18

Job title: BOM Technical Officer

Describe your role in two sentences: Observing the weather, and calibrating and maintaining the weather instruments to ensure accurate readings. Wait, that’s only one sentence.

What did you do before your joined the Australian Antarctic Division? Electrical engineering

What is your favourite part of your job here at Macca? I enjoy watching the weather, which is pretty handy in this job.

If you were not a BOM Met Tech, what would be your dream job? I suspect I've peaked with the current job.

How does this season at Macca compare to your previous seasons down south? Every season is different. So far they've all been pretty great.

What do you like to do in your spare time? Eating and sleeping are both great options. When those start to pall I don’t mind strolling around the island taking a photo or two.

What song sums up your Macca experience so far? “Majesty” by The Panics

What actor would play you in a film version of our 73rd ANARE (Australian National Antarctic Research Expedition) season here at Macca? Wilson the volleyball.

What is your favourite spot here at Macca and why? Green Gorge hut has scenery and wildlife right on the doorstep.

Favourite piece of Australian Antarctic Division kit? The new hut booties are pretty sweet.

What is your favourite book / movie (or both) and why?

Movie: I can’t remember any movies that I've watched at the moment, so we may have to skip this one…

Book: Cotillion by Georgette Heyer always gets me chuckling.

What is your typical ‘Slushy FM’ genre? “Shuffle all” is a great time saver.

Describe your Macca experience with: a sight, a smell, a sound, a feeling and a taste.

Sight — Mist on grassy hills

Smell — Ooh, so many pungent options to choose from. I’m a bit of a fan of eau de Gentoo: distinctive and powerful without being quite as eye-watering as some of the other wildlife.

Sound — A pile of sleeping elephant seals is a symphony of gastric processing.

Feeling — That great feeling of peace and lightness as you connect with nature on the beach each morning out at the field huts.

Taste — Arvid’s cakes. I’m going to have to punch some new belt holes.

Author: George Brettingham-Moore, BOM Met Tech

Interviewer: Troy Henderson, Station Communications Technical Officer