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Friday, December 31, 2010

A Toilet with a View

 
As mentioned in previous blogs, Poos and pees in Antarctica can be an interesting experience. One of the more interesting toilets, and again not for the modest, is located at "Jacks" field hut about 1 hour from Casey station. Yes, I know what your saying, everyone can see what your doing. Well, to tell the truth, nobody really gives a sh_t what your doing, if you'll forgive the pun. If you think about it, what do you do when you see someone in a position of relief, you turn away of course. Now this toilet has a view to die for, well, nearly. This would be possibly one of the only toilets in the world where you take a camera in with you to take photos of the view outside. What do you think...?


More Antarctic Landscapes at:

 

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Antarctic Food

Food in Antarctica is very similar to that you would find in Mining camps of today. The kitchens are typical of a small commercial one. Bread, pastries, pies, steak and chips, you name it, at some time we've probably had it cooked here. The main difference down here is the availability of fresh fruit and vegetables. Fruit juices come as concentrates, and the milk of course is powdered. Fresh fruit is only available for the first few weeks after a resupply. Meats are all frozen. We have a full range of meats including fish, prawns, ham, lamb, chicken, duck and beef. All meals are self served from a  bain marrie.  Breakfasts are what we call, catch and kill. Basically a continental style breakfast of what ever you want. Cereals, toast, teas and coffee. You can reheat anything that is left over if you want. Smoko can be a big meal if you like. This can be anything from pizzas to danish pastries and soups. Lunch is a fall on cooked meal with roasts, pasta, soups and veges. Dinner is the same with deserts. Along with all this, there is available chocolate bars, biscuits,dried fruit and nuts on tap. Anyone wanting to celebrate their birthday can have a birthday cake. Sausage rolls and donuts are also popular,as are blueberry muffins. Very few come away from Antarctica lighter than they came down.

Lets hear it for the chefs....!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Husky - A Piece of Antarctic History.

My wife and I have a  love of trained dogs and their company. So it begged the question when coming to Antarctica, what ever happened to the famed Antarctic Husky. Well, they don't exist here anymore except in the memories of those who worked and loved them in past. Australia had some 267 huskies in total in Antarctica from 1950 to  December 1993 when the last four dogs arrived in Hobart from Mawson.In  1949-1950 a French expedition,after failing to reach the Antarctic coast, returned to Melbourne and placed their unwanted dogs in the Melbourne zoo. These dogs along with their pups become the property of the Australian Government and formed the basis of the future husky teams for Australian Antarctic expeditions. The dogs where used where mechanical devices where unable to go in the exploration of the continent. The dogs were able to sense dangers in the sea ice and crevasses that no man was able to see. Just as importantly, the moral of the expeditioners was boosted by the presence of the animal. However, through the campaigning of Greenpeace and others, the dogs where removed. As a signatory to the Madrid protocol, which excludes the use or introduction of non native species to Antarctica, Australia was compelled to abide by this treaty.I guess the best thing about the end to this historical saga is that all remaining working dogs (19 adult and 3 pups)went to USA to continue their working life as husky team members. Some went onto North pole explorations. The last four dogs off Antarctica,Morrie,Bonza,Elwood and Ursa, were too old to continue as working dogs but found their way into the homes of former experienced expeditioners and dog handlers in Tasmania and Victoria. A great account of the history of the Husky is in a book edited by Shelagh Robinson, put out by Kangaroo Press, ISBN 0864177267. There was also a doco called, "The Last Husky" G rated. Don't you just love a good story ending when a dogs involved...! Oh, nearly forgot, the last actual Husky off Antarctica was Morrie.

The Rules of Poo and Pee in Antarctica

The subject of poo and pee is not one for the dinner table, so if your munching on food right now....! It is not something that everyone wants to talk about, but it does present a few challenges whilst your here because of the environmental issues that it can pose. We have to return all human wastes, including grey water from field huts and trips into the field to the station for disposal. Its the same for astronauts in space.This also includes female sanitary products. So how does one poo and pee in a freezing climate.Its very easy, very quickly, with no newspaper reading time available. You pee into your own little pee bottle or larger black plastic drum for larger groups, take it back to the "poo" farm back at station and pour it down a specially designed waste management unit. For the girls, peeing into a little personal pee bottle also presents its own little challenge. But wait, you get a specially designed funnel. Yes very dignified I'm sure. For the poo department,also civilized. A 20 litre drum which is double lined with garbage bags and a wooden toilet sit . Once you've pooped, you cover your poop with talcum powder
 which dries any unexpected runs,  and gives a far more
pleasent smell. Once all is done the bags are
 knotted and taken back to station. The best thing is at these temps poo freezes. Pee also freezes when left over night. A personal rule of mine with the personal pee bottles, always empty it into the larger plastic drums whenever possible. There's nothing like having a full frozen bottle of pee in the morning and you have to go again.But I digress, the best part is the poo is burnt in the plastic bag without having to handle it. This is done in a "Warren" incinerator on station after believe or not being weighted. If you think you can hold onto your pee and poo until you get back to station, well, some if these trips are a number of days in duration. Holding onto you pee and poo can lead to tract infections.The bottom line is that  for the blokes there are no trees to pee behind and bare bums in this climate can lead to other issues. The station toilets are the same as home.So, get over being squeamish about the poo and pee department, and get on with enjoying Antarctica...!

For Rockin' Horse Photography on line store

See also my other blog "A Toilet With a View."

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The End of Resupply and Farewell to the Aurora Australis

Resupply and refueling is done and dusted. We farewelled the Aurora and it's passagers this afternoon with some fanfare. The winterers who have been here for over 12 months were those aboard. The weather played its part by being kind with below 10 knot winds and around 0 degrees during the days of resupply. This allowed us to complete the resupply in under 6 days. Now we can get back to our daily routines and some well earned rest. For all us bottom feeders, resupply is really an easy task. You can even take in a spot of fishing whilst you wait for the barge to return. Nothing worth catching, but it's really about doing something different to break up the monotony. But for those up the chain, it can be stressful. I should also mention that one of our diesel mechanics had
 an acute appendicitis and had to be operated on in our hospital during the resupply. A not so memorable  Antarctic event for him, but a great achievement by those doctors who attended him. He is recovering well, and is now taking on his first lot of food.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Resupply and the Art of "Hurry Up and Wait."


The resupply of Casey as I know it anyway, is in two main parts. Fuel and Station restocking supplies. All these goodies arrive primarily on the P&O ice breaker, Aurora Australis. The refueling is only done under the strictest controls you can imagine. The last place you need is 850000lts of fuel going astray is this place. Constantly monitored both on water and land it takes just under 24hrs to complete. Resupply of the other goods can go on during the refueling, but it tends to slow. It can take 7 odd days to complete the whole resupply.  The goods are brought ashore on a Hamilton Jet powered barge of aluminium construction. This barge has a payload of 11 tonne. The barge is removed from the water each night in case of weather changes or unexpected leaks.The cargo is removed from the barge using a Grove mobile crane and on to a Mack "Tonka" truck or skidder pulled trailer. Everything from refrigerated containers (reefers) to new machinery goes back up to the station this way. Up at the station, various people organize the incoming stock into the allocated storage areas. The unpacking of the reefers can be a pain as it sometimes has to be done by hand. That being some 10 tonnes of frozen foods. But, a human chain can do this easily right into the store freezers in no time.The turn around time of the barge will vary, but around 1 hour is good. So, the term hurry up and wait is used alot as there is a bit of waiting around by truck drivers, beach masters, dogman and crane drivers down at the wharf. There is just nothing else to do, except wait. So, read a book, take the lap top down, listen to the old iPod or play cards.There is a temp. building down at the wharf that is used to have meals and hot drinks in. It is equipped with UHF radio for comms and is heated of course. During resupply, for myself, I am one of two drivers of the Mack Tonka, and for the refueling I'm on what they call the lower fuel farm, as a monitor. The Mack Tonka, for those who need to know, is an ex army 6x6 vehicle. It has a 5 speed crash box which is relatively easy to clutchless change. It comes with a tipping body and a flat bed for resupply. It doesn't perform that well in the snow. Anything soft and you need to engage the front diff for full 6x6. The mini excavator we loaded is 5100kg in wt and has zero swing capability. Nice little machine for around the home. Will be used on science projects and around the station for capital works once the science is completed. During resupply, returns to Australia, such as recyclable
goods, wastes that cannot be destroyed on site, empty shipping containers, machinery that need major overhauls, are loaded onto the Australis. Also returning to Australia will be some of last winters expeditioners who have been in Antarctica for over 12 months
More resupply pics at

 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Antarctic Landscapes

Landscapes  in Antarctica has brought a whole new dimension to my amateur photography. Where once before one has to look for that shot, in Antarctica regardless of where you stand, there is a 360 degree panoramic view to be photographed. I use two cameras down here. My primary camera is a Canon 5D Mk11 DSLR, and the second is an Olympus Tough 8100 point and shoot. I have only brought two lenses with me to Antarctica. A Sigma 20 - 40mm wide angle and a 150 - 500mm zoom for the wild life. I'm not very experienced at wild life photography so I'm getting some experience whilst I'm here.


Penguins luckily are very easy to photograph and in fact very inquisitive about the goings on of humans. Most birds however are usually in full flight and getting a bird in focus in difficult. I have found the 500mm Sigma lense a little slow in the auto focus dept. This is usually not a problem except when it comes to focusing on a snow petral which is a fast turning bird. Manual focusing on a particular spot and using the waiting game, wait for a bird to fly into the view finder is the go. However, like most times when your on a working mission, time is critical, and one hasn't the time to just hang around. So, I've just turned on the continuous shoot mode and hoped to get one out of 500 frames that would be passable. For some, not all further landscape shots go to the link below. For a penguin shots the link below that. I have yet to suffer from what they call shutter stick or icing of camera parts. Touch wood. The need for more batteries is a must in this climate as the cold sucks the life out of the batteries. My DSLR has a battery grip and so I've found the 2 batteries have enough life for a single days shoot. The live view or use of the auto focus does drain the batteries a little more, but not enough to worry me. Keeping the camera against the body as much as possible keeps the battries warm and last longer. Use of ordinary batteries is a waste of time and money. Lithium batteries only.

I've found the use of a monpod very useful for landscape shots and for penguins and seals, but hopeless for birds on the wing. Tripod obviously for time exposures and panoramics. Anyway, as an amateur photographer, costs and time dedication is limited and I have much to learn...!

See my short slideshow on uTube A Few Icebergs
See also my online store at Rockin Horse Photgraphy

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Want to Stay Warm?

Want to stay warm, its all about the layers and what they are made of. The three layer system is the one that I use down here. Layer one is your thermal layer. This is made of pure merino super fine wool, not poly or certainly not cotton. This is because wool wicks away your sweat, apposed to cotton  which holds the moisture next to your skin. When this happens down here, of course the sweat will keep you cold.The second layer is polo fleece which keeps your body heat in and forms a layer of body heater air close to where you need it. The third layer is your wind/water proofing. This does exactly what is says it does. If you are over heating these garmets have sipped areas that allow you open and let the heat out. Keeping the old head warm will also help you stay warm. Boots are another subject...!

Wilkes - A Piece of Frozen History

Wilkes is the closet outpost to Casey. It is an abandoned Australian and American base used back in the 1950's. Much of the structure are still there buried under the snow and ice. Many food items such as tinned fish are still there and probably, as they tell me, edible.mm, no thanks. Anyway, it's very popular with expeditioners due to its locality and sleeping 8. It has a wood heater and all the refinements of an outpost.There is good photography in this area. It only takes around 45 minutes to get there with expeditioner leaving after and returning the next day before work. Ahh, the beauty of 24hr sun light. Some cross country ski there, whilst other use the those bloody uncomfortable quads. But given how close it is, well ok.

The picture left is of ice at Wilkes. Even at a micro level, Antarctica produces an amazing array of wonders. No matter where you look, there is a 360 degree panorama of beauty to be photographed.

Top Gear Magazine Editorial

Just when you thought it was safe to pic up a top  Australian motoring magazine, a pair of boys from Queensland pop up in the editorial section of the mag. Scot and I did a number of pics for the mag and sent in the one we thought was the best. Not the one shown here though. If your wondering how cold it was,-5C.
Actually it was a great day and with no wind around, it just wasn't that cold.The pic won't appear until the next edition probably in the new year...!



Top Gear Magazine  www.magshop.com.au/Top-Gear-Australia

Skull Dragging 30+ tonnes Over Snow and Ice...!


Cat D7G hooking up to operations sled for Wilkins Airstrip

Moving 30+ tonnes over snow and ice isn't that hard when you've got the right gear and conditions. We moved this mobile operations building on its sled to a new temp. position. Required two machines,one front and back. The front CatD7G towing, the rear a Cat Challenger acting as a brake. We got everything hooked up and then, as you would have it, the D7 couldn't budge it. So, off it came, and with a little bump, and I do mean a little bump with the blade broke the frozen seal holding the sled to the snow. Rehooked and there you have it, away we went at a roaring pace of 3.6km per hr...!





Saturday, December 11, 2010

Blizz Day...!


Outside the new workshop on a sled to be moved to
 Wilkins airstrip during a small blizz.
Blizzards are common in Antarctica and are extremely dangerous, if your out in them.
Some of these blizzards have winds in excess of 100knots or 185kph. Our small blizz the other day topped out at only 85 knots or just over 157kph. The biggest peoblem with blizzards as many are aware, is the clearing of the snow away from vehicles and stairways. The other challenge is that the wind forces the snow up into the engine bays of vehicles including vents so hard that you have to apply an industrial hair drier to the bay to melt the snow. Things like vehicle heaters, window wipers, and hand brakes are never left on or applied over night as these freeze and either burn out or won't release. Blizzard ambiant temps aren't that low as one would expect. What makes them cold is the wind chill factor. The basic rule of thumb when trying to walk in a blizzard is that for every kilo of weight it takes 1 knot of wind to move it. Therefore, a 100 knot wind will blow a 100kg man off his feet. now spikes on your boots make your travel a little more easy. During winter when ambiant temps drop down to -30, a blizzard with winds in excess of 100knots can reduce the temps to -90+ degrees. That's bloody cold. The coldest ambiant temp. recorded in Antarctica is - 89.2C, the coldest place on earth...! 

video

Sleeping at Casey...!

My greatest challenge here in Antarctica has being to get a good nights sleep. The room which I was originally in housed four of us on bunks beds. Luckily the other three guys are great people to be around. The challenge for me is that unless I'm dead drunk, I tend to be a light sleeper. Hence with three other men snoring their heads off at various pitches and volume, I get no sleep. Therefore, it was my nightly routine to wonder down to the Odean (our cinema) and sleep on the mattresses for the night. This would be a pain because people could be watching their favourite slasher movie until the wee hours of the night. My room was not the worst room however. This title goes to the accommodation out the side of the main block in the caravan park. These abysmal accusses for accommodation house four people in a container like caravan. There is not shower or toilet in these things, which means you either have to pee in a bottle during the night or brave the Antarctic winds and snow and go back into the main accommodation block known as the "Red Shed." Luckily we have all moved into the new west wing where we each have our own room.


The new rooms are comfortable but very small. Approx. 2.4m square. They are yet to be finished. At this point you still have to have your midnight pee in a bottle and go back into the Red Shed for a shower. This is due to the entrance to the new wing still not being cut through the wall. We are housed at the moment in the dungeon part of the new wing. My room shares the wall with the plant room which is very quiet and is isolated from the rest of the rooms. I consider it the best room for getting a good nights rest because it doesn't share walls with other expeditioners. The walls are still paper thin. In terms of accommodation standards, they are still way behind mine camp standards. Still, you have to remember where you are, Antarctica...!







The "Wallow"...!

Like most ski resorts, Casey Station has a social gathering area where newspapers, magazines and a cup of tea or coffee can be consumed. The wallow has an added feature of a climbing wall. Newspapers are electronically downloaded and printed off each day. Magazines are donated by the expeditioners who bring them down with them. The wallow is also the place for station meetings social night gatherings. It has a spectacular view of the bay out its huge floor to ceiling windows making it seem you are actually in a ski lodge...!


Slinters...!

At Casey we have a bar called Splinters. Its a great little bar which can serve every known drink known to man, as long as you brought it down with you. Basically, you pre purchase your drinks prior to going to Antarctica, and consign it to be transported by the Ship Auroa Australis. The bar however does supply free of charge, softdrinks, and homebrewed beer from the Stations brewery. The brewery brews lagers, draughts, stout, black and tan,cidar and ginger beer. All these are very good and are very popular. Bar opens after work at 5.00pm and is a help yourself arrangement. Your consigned alcohol is stored in "Fort Knox" and is ration issued on a weekly basis.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Down to Business...!

One of the many reasons for actually being at Casey is to be involved with the continued construction/assembly of the extentions to the main accommodation block or the Red Shed. The extention in fact is just a bunch of modified shipping containers jammed together with a roof over the top, and 100mm thick foam filled cladding for walls. The chippies are mainly involved with the fitting out of the rooms of which there are 34 singles. They're not too bad, but come no where close to the standards that mine construction camps have today. Mine construction camps today have rooms with ensuites, TV,video, bar fridge as standard.  The rooms here are basically a bed, desk and some storage. You do have you own phone and internet access. the phone calls are not free, but the internet access is.

As a boilermaker, my role is to manufacture and repair what ever is required and help out the other tradies when needed. Very simple....!

So,what's a "Hagg"?

Short for Hagglund, it is a Swedish all terain vehicle which we Aussies use to ground transport ourselves around Antartica. Not a bad piece of "kit" be it a little gutless. The AAD has a couple of versions with either a 4 or 6 cylinder Cummins Diesel. The new 4 cylinder is a turbo charged 3.9L common rail diesel with about 110KW. It's still a push rod engine. It is coupled to an auto transmission. It steers just like a car, and with the T bar auto, its very easy to drive.Very agricultural in design and comfort. It is supposed to float as well, but to be frank, you wouldn't place to much faith in it to stay afloat if you punched through some sea ice. All of our Hagg's are coupled to a trailer of some sort which have their own drive train. They articulate very well making them easy to back and track. Very low ground pressure, lower than a human, making them capable of traversing some pretty soft ground. However, they do bog, mainly because people don't do a foot inspection of unknown territory pior to proceeding. They do have a self recovery winch that can be plonked on either the front or rear.

They are equiped with GPS and Radar for navigation and have a variety of comms including HF radios. They can carry 4 personnel in the front and when equipped with a personnel carrier on the back, 6 more. The personnel in the back are very uncomfortable due to the lousy seats, wooden benches, and it's bloody cold. My advice, get in the front. Can be a little noicy in the front, but not unbearable. Ear muffs or plugs counter the noise if you find it's a little loud. The top allowable speed of 30km per hour ensures you have plenty of time to get a numb bum, so take little things like chocolate bars and or muesli bars to pig out on during your trip.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Just to Remind Yourself Your Not Getting Younger...!

After you've recovered from the "chip" packet experience, you must attend a quad bike trip to Robbo's hut. Not too far in a straight line from Casey, but of course that's not the point. We honed our navigation skills some more along with retreival of bogged quads. May I say I did enjoy the trip and the company, but these machines are one of the most uncomfortable forms of transport over a two day trip. At the end of two days, I was shagged, and needed some serious rest. Look, they're great machines, and go nearly anywhere you dare to take them, but let the young ones knock themselves out with them, and take a "Hagg" or walk or ski....! O, I'll explain about what a "Hagg" is some other time.
For more pics:
www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2074916&id=1178881068&l=952ce2971c

First Things First...!


Field Kitchen Fashsioned Out Of Ice Bricks.

One of the first things one needs to attend to on arriving at an Australian Antarctic base is to attend a number of survival training exercises. The first of these is how to survive a blizzard overnight, how to cook on fuel stoves in the Antarctic, basic navigation using the ol' compass  and GPS. Also sleeping in what is called a "chip" packet. This is basically a neoprene bag some 2 x 2 meters which you jump inside with all your sleeping gear. The principal on the "chip" packet is to merely shelter you from the wind, which it does. However, it does not mean you are going to get a good night sleep as the wind howling around you makes the bag your in sound like 50 chip packet being screwed up at the pictures. Also, all moisture inside the "chip" packet, including your breath, freezes on the inside, which in turn showers down on you each time it gets to heavy to withstand the winds shacking the hell out of the packet. However, you will survive, and is very warm, just bloody uncomfortable. O yes, don't do what I did and select firm snow, or near on ice to plonk your packet down. Nice soft powdery snow that will form to the shape of your body is the go...!

If You Thought Antarctica Was All White and Flat...!

If you thought Antarctica was all white, icebergs and flat, nope...! This shot was taken out one of the Herc windows on the way to Casey. Far from being all white and flat. In fact around the coast line areas, it is covered in rocky outcrops, some exposed for most of the time.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

We flew to Casey from McMurdo on the old C130 Herc.Its just one noicy,uncomfortable, flying condom.But a lot of fun. The only way to enjoy it is to take a pack of cards, good ear muffs, and an iPod of some description. Another idea is to pack some nibblies for the trip because the food provided is shall we say, primitive. The toilet fascilities are also pretty basic. But hey, this is a military aircraft designed to deliver bad tempered fighting machines to worse areas than Antarctica. We had two goes at getting to Casey. The first trip we got within 5 min of our point of no return, about three hours, and then had to turn around due to bad weather at the Casey airstrip. The second trip, 3 days later went without a hitch.

For more pics on the Herc:
 

Scott Base Pressure Ridge

 The pressure ridge of sea ice along the coastline outside the Scott base is just an amazing display of nature's ability to show off her sculptures. In turn, it can be said that we have a lot to learn from her. Took a tour with one of the American guides here along with a number of other oz expeditioners. The link below will take you to an album of mine on facebook with all the other shots I took on this trip. All the shots were taken between 9.00pm and 10.30pm. That's the beauty of summer down here, the amount of sunlight. You can't just walk out here by yourself, so you need to organize with the Americans or Kiwis a guide. Bloody dangerous areas so stick to the flagged trail.
www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2074713&id=1178881068&l=ec000c96c3

Scott Base - Antarctica

Walked over to Scott Base from McMurdo. Easy stroll of some 3.5km each way. They have a little gift shop there which is great. They all sorts of T Shirts, caps, sweaters and the like. They except credit cards, US dollars, and NZ Dollars, not oz dollars. A trip worth the walk and a tour of the pressure ridge just off shore in the sea ice is worth the look. A small base compared to the US one just over the hill. Unlike McMurdo, you can't just walk around were ever you like here, you need to have an invite to look around beyond the gift shop. Was nice to talk with the kiwi's and as usuall were willing to share their experiences with us.  Cheers guys


McMurdo Antarctica - the US experience


Looking out from the main office at McMurdo
McMurdo Station is typical of anything American. It's big and well equipped. It has around 1200 people on Station and doesn't sleep. We counted 6 C130 Hercs on the icestrip with 2 helicopters and an assortment of other research planes. That's more than  all of the Australian bases of Casey, Mawson, Davis, Mac Quarry Island combined. We were mostly camped in the gym for our time here which was fine. As was the case with the attempts to get here from Hobart, we had 2 goes at getting to Casey from here due to weather. We spent the weekend here which gave us time to look around the surrounding areas which included the NZ base,Scott. The McMurdo base has two bars, and a Coffee house along with a cinema and a gym. The gift shop is big and you can buy all sorts of stuff in the clothing line and foods. It takes US dollars of course and credit cards. No oz dollars. Not to worry, they even have ATM's that accept most cards. Get this, there's no charge of $2.00 to use the ATM. Bloody oz banks would have the gaul to charge you if we had them. Its science buildings are massive as you would expect. Its basically a small town and even then its bigger than some small towns back home. The food is its only let down. everything is so sweet and fried. Deep fried bacon and enough sugar in the pudding to send a man into a headspin.. Despite this minor flaw, the Amercians where very accommodating and friendly as usuall. I don't care what some may think of the Americans and their politics, the guys on the ground are just nice people.




Hobart to McMurdo - Antarctica


Over Antarctica

We flew from Hobart to McMurdo (US Base) via an A319 airbus. About the size of a Boeing 737. We land in McMurdo as the Americans maintain their airstrip during the winter which is on the sea ice east of Casey. Very comfortable ride as our seats where of the business class variety and the only time I would be able to afford such a seat. We actually had three attempts to get down the third being our lucky one. It was not so much the weather at McMurdo but the connecting flight to casey via a c130 Herculies US Airforce.



Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Clothing for Antarctica

Clothing Store in Kingston Hobart

The clothing supplied to expeditioners is mostly pretty good. Some of the actual work clothes are fairly average, but do the job. The most interesting part of the clothing is more about how to wear what is provided. The layering system consisting of a first layer of fine merino wool thermals to wick away moisture from the skin. The second layer is polo fleece, and the third layer is your wind proofing layer. The wind proofing maybe just a windcheater or a goosedown style jacket. Us tradies get what they call a "Carhart" jacket and pants for heavy duty works. Socks are woollen backed up by Sorell boots which are lined. The steel capped Sorells are bloody cold and are avoided when possible. The best boots are those worn by the wintering crew or those who work up at the Wilkens airstrip.Beanies, balaclavas, gloves of various types are also supplies. The fleecey lined riggers gloves are not bad, but don't last long. They are easily water logged making them cold to wear. I've found it surprising how little one has to wear here when the layering system is applied and to be honest, Antarctica during the summer months is not that cold.

Some of the gear I got issued


OK, so -5 C average is a little colder than back home, and -30C during a savage blizzard is getting cold, but I think I've had colder feet back home in winter than down here due to not having the right gear on.

My biggest challenge has been sizes. I'm just too

OVERWEIGHT




Training for Antarctica

Some old fool on a quad...!
Part of getting to Antarctica is a truck load of training. This included Quad bikes. To be honest, they really do nothing for me, but the young fellas enjoy them. Bloody uncomfortable, and they seem to suck the energy out of a fella. Two trainers from Honda came in to do the training. Very competant guys who also train all the posties in OZ.

In Antarctica they are used extensively for field trips and S.A.R. (Search and Rescue). Further training is conducted in Antarctica  in the recovery and operation of the quads

Before Antarctica

I had just finished a contract out in Dalby Qld building a gas fired power station with Laing ORourke. This was October 2009. As usual, I started to pick up the Saturday papers looking for the next contract in heavy construction. An ad for the Australian Antarctic Division(AAD) caught my eye. They were looking for a range of people with various experiences. Well, hell, if your not in the race, how can you expect to win it. Anyway, I didn't really expect to hear from them, so as you do, applied for other jobs in WA. Got a contract with Monodelphous in the Pilbara which started in January 2010.

March came and bugger me if I didn't get a call from the AAD wanting to see me in Brisbane for interviews and tests. Needless to say, here I am, in Antarctica. My role here is not just as a boilermaker, but as someone who has to be a "jack of all trades." My science role is in the field of molten metal transfer technologies.