Antarctic video gallery

It's a bit breezy

It's a bit breezy

Video transcript

Mawson research station is nestled on the coast of East Antarctica.

Where the ice cap falls steeply to the sea.

As winter sets in, fearsome gravity-fed ‘katabatic’ winds roar down the slope.

The 19 Australians at Mawson have just endured an epic seven day blizzard.

The wind blew between 100-148 km/h, with one gust reaching 244 km/h.

Visibility was zero for days on end.

As conditions eased, expeditioners headed out to check for damage.

While the force of the winds moved fully laden shipping containers, there were no major issues.

For safety, the team followed a rope or ‘blizz line’ to move between buildings.

Moving even a small distance in Antarctic storms is a feat of strength and endurance.

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Helping Hand

Helping Hand

Video transcript

At a time when hand sanitiser is hard to find, our science labs have all the makings

DIRK WELSFORD, Scientist, Australian Antarctic Division:

It’s basically ethanol, glycerol, and a little bit of hydrogen peroxide. When we saw there was a need in the community we thought it’d be a good use of some of the chemicals that we had sitting around to make it into hand sanitiser. We got a recipe off the World Health Organisation website, and Lauren who’s one of our analytical chemists made it up for us.

There were enough spare ingredients to make 25 litres of hand sanitiser

AAD staff heard that the Salvos in Hobart were in short supply

DON McCRAE, The Salvation Army, housing and homelessness services:

It’s really difficult to get any sort of supplies at the moment. Instead of shutting up shop we’re actually working out on the frontline with people and trying to support them where they need it most. I think this enables us to continue those safe working practices to make sure our areas of work are safe and sterile and that ourselves and our clients are minimised from any exposure and any harm.

DIRK WELSFORD, Scientist, Australian Antarctic Division:

It’s a really good thing for me personally and for the organisation, we’re all thinking about the impacts that the pandemic is having on the community, and we’re a part of the community, so working with the Salvos to try and ease some of the shortages that they’re facing is a great thing, a great feeling.

DON McCRAE, The Salvation Army, housing and homelessness services:

I’d just really like to thank the Australian Antarctic Division for looking after us and thinking about us in this way. It’s really unexpected but it’s been an absolutely brilliant idea and we really welcome the support we’ve had from you guys.

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Pandemic Precautions

Pandemic Precautions

Video transcript

KIM ELLIS, Director, Australian Antarctic Division

Australian Antarctic stations are small enclosed units that have a very limited redundancy in areas such as medical support, engineering and technical support, and food and catering. If COVID-19 was to get into these Antarctic stations there’s a real risk that we actually couldn’t continue operations and may have to evacuate or close the station. So it’s imperative for us that we do everything we can to prevent COVID-19 to get into those stations.

The last six months have been a really challenging six months for the Antarctic Division. We had to implement new procedures that allowed us to completely quarantine our expeditioners going down there, to check them as they left, all of our cargo had to be checked. We implemented a no visitor program to prevent visitors actually going to the Antarctic to prevent the risk of spread, and we implemented social distancing for any of the crews delivering cargo, both aviation and shipping, we separated those from our expeditioners in Antarctica. We stopped a lot of the transit programs that were occurring through our stations.

I’m thrilled that we've been able to quarantine and protect these stations for the long isolated winter months. Our task going forward now is to plan and prepare for the resupply of these stations in the 2020–2021 summer season.

So even here in our office at Kingston, we've closed those to the public. These offices provide tele-medicine and tele-maintenance support to those stations. We have teams here in Kingston who can mobilise to support those immediately.

We must keep the teams here at Kingston healthy, to protect and preserve life in Antarctica.

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Antarctic Anzac Day 2020

Antarctic Anzac Day 2020

Video transcript

KIM ELLIS, Director, Australian Antarctic Division

Our connection with Anzac goes all the way back to the original Heroic Age of Exploration, those early expeditioners, those explorers who actually discovered most of the Antarctic that we now occupy. They went at the turn of the century, and they returned to a nation that was at war.

We have a really strong connection, we understand the commitment that it takes to serve a national outcome. Our expeditions now put people in remote and extreme environments, and it gives us a very strong and enduring connection with that Anzac spirit.

DAVID KNOFF, Station Leader, Davis research station

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old. Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.

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Top tips: isolate like an Antarctican

Top tips: isolate like an Antarctican

Video transcript

Oh no where’s Antarctica? It’s not on the board. We’re all ice-olated.

Hi I’m Dave the station leader at Davis station in Antarctica. While we chose to be in isolation down here for winter, you back at home have had it forced upon you, so we thought we’d give you some helpful hints and advice about how to make the most of being stuck at home.

Go out for some exercise

Well, it’s a beautiful day for a bike ride here at Davis, balmy −12 degrees

When it’s a beautiful day like today, remember get outside and smell the roses…This is plastic but you get the idea.

Maintain your social distance

Here at Davis station we have our own isolation rules. We have to stay at least 15 metres from moulting elephant seals.

Share the housework

Just doing a bit of cleaning, as part of our chores, as community duties. It helps us to stay active as well and everyone keeps it nice and tidy.

Indulge in guilty pleasures

When in isolation, keeping a routine can be important, even small things like turning out lights.

What are you guys doing in here?!

It’s Married at First Sight finale!

On windy days, hook onto blizz lines

Down here at Davis, we don’t let the weather stop us, there’s a blizzard outside, but we’re inside having fun, ridin’!

Food is your first layer of insulation

We’ve got the crunchies, the picnics, this has to last for a month. There’s a few people that have gained a few kilos since being here, not going to mention anyone.

Follow health advice

We recommend listening to the experts back home, keeping away from public places like beaches…there’s always one.

Hey mate. Personal hygiene is no game.

Play nice

Take care guys, we miss you, all the best!

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Farewell Orange Roughy

Farewell Orange Roughy

Video transcript

FAREWELL ORANGE ROUGHY

Ship’s Master Gerry O’Doherty has been working on the Aurora Australis for more than 20 years

Ship’s Master Gerry O’Doherty: “It has been my second home for the last 20 years and, yeah, for most of the crew have been here for a long time as well. I think six or seven years is probably the shortest amount of time anyone’s spent here. Yeah, it’s — yeah, we're very fond of the old girl, yeah.”

Australia’s icebreaker was launched in Newcastle in 1989

Its first winter voyage was to Heard Island in 1990

The last Antarctic huskies came home on board in 1992

For three decades, the Aurora has made over 150 voyages, carrying more than 14,000 expeditioners

Ship’s Master Gerry O’Doherty: “When we get to the fast ice, that requires ramming the ship into it most of the time. So we have to use full power, push the ship six, seven or sometimes eight knots into that ice and push through it as far as we can get. Usually the ship will come to a stop and then we'll have to back up and do it all over again, and we'll do that perhaps hundreds of times.”

But it hasn’t always been plain sailing

Ship’s Master Gerry O’Doherty: “The old girl has sustained a bit of damage over the years from various events and, as one of the chief mates once said, it is a contact sport, icebreaking, so you do have to expect a few bruises every now and again, and the Aurora’s had her fair share of those.”

The ship recovered from engine room fires in the 90s, and running aground at Mawson station in 2016

It was central to many rescues of other ships

And it remained the lifeline for our Antarctic stations

Ship’s Master Gerry O’Doherty: “When people at home ask me, “What do you do for work?” I say, “Oh, I work at sea,” and then there’s usually this progression because that sparks their interest. “What sort of work do you do at sea?” and eventually I say, “Well, I work on the Aurora Australis.” I give up and say, “Yeah, I work -.” “Oh, tell us more about that.” And so, yeah, I don’t usually tell them I work at sea unless I've got a half an hour to spare.”

The Aurora Australis has enabled an extraordinary array of polar science

Ship’s Master Gerry O’Doherty: “Sometimes you're seeing things that haven’t been observed ever before. Sometimes it’s just numbers on a page that you might get from, say, a CTD sample when we're doing oceanography work, or sometimes it might be some strange creature that comes up from a deep sea trawl. Yeah. Sometimes it’s ice conditions that we've never experienced before. So when I say marine science voyages, it covers everything from oceanography, marine biology, sea ice science, glaciology and sometimes atmospheric sciences as well, and we've had many voyages where all of those disciplines are placed together on the ship and it’s — yes, it’s an all-singing, all-dancing science fest.”

The Aurora’s career with the Australian Antarctic Program may be over, but the wonder of going south will live on

Ship’s Master Gerry O’Doherty: “Every voyage, there’s always new expeditioners. There’s always people that have never travelled with us before and we get to experience their wonder at seeing an iceberg and their excitement. You know, the thing’s four miles away, it’s a spec on the horizon and they're jumping up and down, and to relive that helps you relive your own first experience and it reminds you of how special it is, just in case you might have forgotten.”

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Constructing Cool Sleds

Constructing Cool Sleds

Video transcript

In this small workshop on Tasmania’s east coast, big things are happening.

Elphinstone Engineering have won a multimillion dollar contract to build 28 sleds

Business Owner Graeme Elphinstone; “This is the biggest single order we have had for Antarctica.”

The sleds will be used to transport expeditions to search for the oldest ice on Earth.

Next year they’ll carry a mobile station 1200 kilometres inland from Australia’s Casey station.

Australian Antarctic Division Traverse Project Manager, Anthony Hull; “The expected temperatures at our proposed site where we are heading to can be up to −30°C, −50°C.”

The traverse train will have five 12.5 metre sleds for accommodation vans and 23 smaller sleds for cargo

Australian Antarctic Division Traverse Project Manager, Anthony Hull; “The flat deck sleds are a universal platform. So those sleds we can put a range of different types of cargo on those, you know 20 foot containers, 10 foot containers, fuel tanks, general cargo.”

Business Owner Graeme Elphinstone; “We’ve been able to build a sled that is a lot less maintenance in the field and also been able to carry bigger loads over longer distances.”

The sleds will be pulled by tractors modified for harsh Antarctic conditions.

The last of the five tractors will be transformed by the end of this month.

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