So after an amazing festive season we dove into 2015 with some solid working weeks bringing some much needed consistency back into station life. My first Job for the year was to spend a week up a Wilkins aerodrome ticking off further maintenance work on the buildings at the runway. This beautiful and remote location really provides the antarctic experience that i had been craving, a sense of utter insignificance as i stand alone amongst a White and Blue glowing desert. This feeling really makes me realise how much of a speck I am in the scheme of things.
After driving across the antarctic circle and back to station, the next weeks where topped off with Recreational Trips (Jollies) out to the field huts on the weekends. Casey has 3 huts (Jacks, Robbos and Brownings) that can be visited on the weekend giving us the opportunity to get off base and explore what the surrounding coastline has to offer. There is also Wilkes base across Newcomb Bay, abandoned in the 60’s it still has a Cabin sleeping 8 people that we can use (the Wilkes Hilton)
This Station was built by the Americans and was given to the Australians, it was later found out that the Location of the Base was one of the main reasons for this exchange as it was a constant battle to keep the snow drifts out of station. Amongst the exposed rooftops of the building are crates apon crates of left over supplies including cherries, 50yr old SPAM and Iron flakes. These are also accompanied by thousands of old Fuel and Oil Drums encased in solid Ice.
For my birthday we stayed at Jacks Hut which is located a 45min Hagglund ride to the East of Casey. This Hut sits on the Morraine Line overlooking a large Glacier. A Morraine is a Line of Exposed Rocks at the Edge of a Glacier. A wide variety of rocks (including Meteorites) are found here which become a hunting ground for Geologists. These rocks have been pushed, rolled and crushed from the internals of the Glacier covering huge distances before finally being spat into the Ocean as the Frozen river moves slowly downstream. Similar rocks found in this area are also found in South Australia, proof of where the two Continents were once joined. Sitting on these rocks as the sunsets for a brief moment, we can feel the rocks cracking and shuddering beneath, 50m down you can hear them launching from the cliff face into the Freezing Ocean. This Whole Landscape is Alive!
Last weekend i was lucky enough to get out on travel training. This 2 day adventure involved Riding around on Quad bikes learning navigation, trip leadership, survival and rescue skills. The conditions had been sunny and a soaring 3 degrees, turning any small melt streams into an icy quagmire. We travelled out onto the Plateau, stopped past the Skiway to check out the Aircraft, then spent the night at Jacks Donga. The Next day we rode to Robbos hut for lunch where we got to tip toe through the moss beds before riding back through the melt towards station. Every 5m i was driving into an ice covered melt hole where id break through the surface and end up bogged knee deep in slush, the 4 of us would skull drag the bikes out and repeat the process again as we moved along our given route. Admitting Defeat we where forced to ride further uphill to traverse over the smaller streams and make our way back to base.
Australia Day… Many would say the best day of the Year, certainly delivered the goods. I awoke pumped and ready to jump in on the Annual Antarctic Australia Day swim. Nothing can prepare you for taking the plunge into sub zero water. Dressed up in summer outfits and skimpy swimwear we trekked it to the wharf where we ran into the Ocean, after 30 seconds your whole body goes completely numb and the sensation of burning acid starts lashing your skin, its a wild experience. After thawing out we played Cricket and jammed out to the Hottest 100 for the rest of the day.
With only a few weeks remaining here this season its hard to believe I arrived almost 3mths ago. So far its been one of the most incredible and eye opening experiences of my life. Surrounded by such a great team its impossible not to have a great time. Cant wait until next season!