Saturday, 15 March 2014

Not all Milk and Honey

From what is portrayed here on my blog and seeing photos and information from other people who are working in Antarctica you would be forgiven for thinking we are the luckiest people on earth.

The truth of the matter is this place has one major flaw. The elephant that seems to be in the corner of every room is the realisation that coming here for work means spending large amounts of time away from friends and family.

Sure, we are being paid reasonable money to experience one of the most extreme and yet beautiful places left on earth. We have a chef that cooks meals for us 6 days a week. We drink free beer that is brewed here on station ourselves. We have lights in the buildings that turn on and off as we enter and leave. We have Internet, reasonable phone services, radios and GPS that are all open to any use. We are allowed to get out in the field, travelling over frozen sea ice on Honda quads and specially designed Hagglund over-snow vehicles for weekend trips away to fully equipped field huts. We have access to a regularly updated library and a cinema with reclining Italian made leather chairs. We have darts, pool, board games, Wii's, Playstations and a full set of musical equipment with more lighting gear than some touring bands have access to...

But none of this can fill the hole left by friends and family.

Everyone that travels down here for work realises this but it doesn't make it any easier when you realise what you are missing out on being away from home for such long periods with it being practically impossible to return home.

Congratulations to my sister Alyssa and her partner Rhys on bringing their beautiful daughter, Evie Rose Hortle into the world. You should be so proud, you three have bought everyone so much joy, I can only imagine how you all must be feeling!

Mat, Ash, Debbie and Paul living it large on the Hahn Ice 'Back in Nam'

Congratulations to Tim and Bianca McCall on their marriage. Looks like it was a perfect day!, you guys deserved it, well done!

Shame I missed your Bucks too Tim! I heard everyone had a ball!..

Congrats to my old friend Nick Rundle on another big title! Keep smacking 'em mate!

Josh, why did you have to wait till I left to get Sofia rego'd again!? Haha!

Despite how privileged I feel living and working down here, not a single day goes by that I don't think of everyone back home. For all those people linked to someone doing work like this, keep it up, we all need it more than you realise!

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Latest happenings

One of the great things about Davis is we are within comfortable helicopter range (around 80kms) to the Larsemann Hills where there are currently 4 stations from other countries. The Russians have Progress I (which is now abandoned) and Progress II, the Chinese have a station named Zhongshan, the Indians have Bharathi and Romania have a very small station called Law-Racoviţă which was donated to them by Australia in 2006. Due to this proximity we get occasional visits from the other countries and last weekend we had 20 Indian expeditioners flown over by the Russians and Koreans (who are contracted to do air ops for the Indian program).

Its great to see some fresh, friendly faces and our visitors always seem to enjoy the guided tours of our station and of course exchanging gifts!

The Russian helicopter in particular was very interesting. They were using a civilian version of the Kamov KA-27 Helix. It uses 2 sets of rotors that spin in opposite directions which means it doesn't need a tail-rotor.

Whichever angle you look at it from, its a pretty impressive machine!

The building that I am featuring this time is one of the more distinctive buildings on station, the ANARESAT dome!

This oversized golf ball looking structure houses our satellite that is used for the Internet and majority of our communications to the rest of the world.

It is actually constructed from numerous odd shaped panels made from a canvas type material which bleed light when you are inside and make a pretty great photo!

The dish contained inside can rotate around to maintain the best contact with the communications satellites.

Lately the weather has been changing and we have been getting a bit more snow. It makes the station look much nicer and a bit more like Antarctica instead of a mining camp...

Even though it has been snowing more, we are still getting sunny days and swings in temperatures (from -12 to 0) which melts the snow then refreezes overnight leaving some pretty cool icicles!