T’is a bit of a ghost town round here today, there are a team of eight who left station this morning to head to the Rauers for a six day trip, the Rauers being an area of exposed rocks and islands similar to that of the Vestfold hills but located about 50 miles to the South as the crow flies. They’re over there under the pretense of doing some science work and collecting lake samples however, having seen the amount of alcohol I saw some of them packing into a large protective case I’d be amazed if they’d be able to find a lake let alone sample it…
So that leaves twelve of us on station who’ve been mooching around like survivors of a zombie apocalypse occasionally bumping into each other and making greetings as if we haven’t seen anyone else for weeks – At one point today myself, Paul & Josh were over at the Ops building recording one of our radio shows when it dawned on us that the three of us represented a quarter of the current operational staff….It’s all a bit strangely quiet!
Noticing the silence is yet another reminder of how everything is very soon going to change with the arrival of the Summerers aboard the Aurora Australis sometime in early November, there will be a sudden influx of nearly a hundred new faces all bristling with excitement and energy for what will be for some, their first time on the Antarctic continent in exactly the same way it was mine last year. I’m well aware that being one of the ‘old hands’ staying on that I will have to lift my game to meet the energy levels of the new folks, having spoken to expeditioners who carried over from Winter last year this can be pretty tough but there are eight of us staying on so we’ll be able to look after each other hopefully – If nothing else we’ll make an extremely effective and experienced darts team..
So I thought I’d mention the recent trips I’ve been involved in, we’ve had a number of visits up to ‘Woop Woop’ to drop off some fuel drums in readiness for the beginning of the aviation season – It’s only about five or six weeks now until the arrival of some of the air support guys in the Basler and Twin Otter aircraft having flown all the way down from Canada to work here for a few months. Woop Woop is our ‘skiway’ that we maintain up on the plateau that enables aircraft to land even when the sea ice runway has melted and gone, it really is just a collection of small huts and vehicles kept in place to assist with the grooming & maintenance of the airstrip. We had a job to transport some fuel up there in conjunction with some other proactive maintenance work to be carried out on the huts, recently the battery system for one of the newer huts had burnt out due to a faulty genset so I had to install a new regulator, batteries and charger – Not particularly difficult but the common conditions up on the plateau make it a bit challenging, the most important maintenance job being to keep yourself warm! We decided to make it a two day trip and dropped back down to Bandits hut overnight and do a bit of exploring the following day before coming back to station. A couple of things to point out, we visited ‘Sir Hubert Wilkins’ cairn which is at the very far north of our recreational area, this cairn (a small and very old wooden box) was laid here to commemorate the Antarctic explorer Hubert Wilkins who set foot here to stake part of Australia’s claim to the territory currently still held – The document is still present as is the Australian flag – We were very careful not to lose it in the high winds! The other thing to note is that in one of the shots the surfboard was photoshopped in afterwards……Though the frozen wave and glacial wall behind was not….It’s a wind scour up near Snezhneyy Bay and is an amazing spot to visit!
Sunset Quad Tours
Either the temperatures are on the rise or we’re slowly adapting to living at sub zero temps for extended periods, I’ve been out on a couple of quad trips now just for the sake of it in the evenings and at other times – The sun is now up from 7am through to 7pm so we have a lot longer to get out and play….and the weather over the last two to three weeks has been stunning, long cloudless days, beautiful sunsets, drives around the icebergs….This is a really good time of the year to be here, most of our work is done, the long winter darkness is behind us and we can take some time out to explore before the mayhem of Summer begins again. The seals are starting to make a comeback too, where there have been tide cracks in the ice they make holes and pop up onto the surface mostly to give birth, not long now and we’re going to start seeing a lot of wildlife back on our doorstep again, really looking forward to that..
I nearly forgot to add that once every six weeks or so we have a bit of a theme party (you may have gathered that by now anyway!) and we had a ‘Medieval theme’ a few weeks back. Parties are more a challenge than anything else, the challenge being to ‘out do’ your colleagues with your costume or any other theme related item that you can muster from the resources available, as usual this was not a let down, we had a castle, stocks, banquet, ridiculous costumes and most importantly it all ended with a food fight and an injury from a stale piece of bread….Less said about that the better I think…
**Note: Any historians amongst you may note the slight inaccuracies in the period costume, some artistic license was granted here due to nobody having a clue about anything historical at all… 🙂 **
Until next time