Saturday, November 19, 2011

Antarctic Preparations

A hundred years ago Mawson's men would have been busy on the Hobart waterfront making preparations for their ground breaking Antarctic expedition. Spring has sprung in Hobart and preparations are in full swing again for all those people heading south this summer, whether it be on cruise ships, icebreakers on resupply missions or flying into the bases. Some people have already left but for me it is another two weeks before I see the lines slipped.

Sunset from the Aurora Australis Helideck
This summer I am heading south on the icebreaker Aurora Australis to Australia's Casey Station. The plan is for the Aurora Australis to refuel and resupply the base. This year I will stay behind on the station to coordinate watercraft operations for the summer. I will also be wearing the hat of the "skiway bus driver" so it looks like I will be heading inland across the ice in a Coaster bus sporting tracks, which should be interesting. There is a lot of checking that we have everything we need, medical tests, briefings and training both on the water and ashore.

Dove has some new covers to keep the sun off her varnish and I fitted some extra anti-chafe to her mooring today. Ashore at Took-End I have been doing the rounds trying to eradicate holly and blackberries. The grass is growing at a rapid rate now that the weather has warmed up and I am hoping that there will be a day when I can mow just before departure.The absence of domestic animals at Took-End now has resulted in an abundance of animal life. A Long Nosed Potoroo hopped out of the undergrowth last night just on dusk which was a nice suprise. There is a family of Native Hens which have arrived this winter in addition to the Bennet Wallabies, Bandicoots, Possums, Cockatoos, Kookaburras and Fairy Wrens.

I am quite excited about this summer in Anatrctica which will present an opportunity to explore the coastline in the Casey region as well as heading inland to the plateau. Plans are already formulating in my mind for next year and at this stage I am keen to sail Dove north to the Great Barrier Reef for some beachcombing. This seems like the perfect compliment to a summer on ice.