Be prepared…

Going south involves a great deal of preparation.

An enormous amount of thought goes into what to take to live on an Antarctic base for 12 months. Making the choices more difficult is the fact that all the cargo has to be packed and ready to go 6 weeks before the departure date.

Map showing the Antarctic continent in relation to the other southern hemisphere continents


Antarctica is remote and mostly inaccessible for many months of the year. As a consequence we have to be prepared for every contingency.

There are a number of things that we have to become familiar with in order to live and operate safely in a community in this driest, windiest, coldest and remotest continent. During the summer (Oct to March there are up to 100 people at Davis, But when the ship leaves in March there will be only 16 of us on station during the long winter period.

In the months leading up to our departure we undertake extensive training.

Medical emergencies can and sometimes happen. Each station has a doctor as well as a well appointed medical suite. 4 expeditioners are chosen to undertake medical training.

In August I, along with 3 fellow expeditioners undertook a 2 week extensive course at Royal Hobart Hospital. We trained to be Lay Surgical assistants – 2 of us in anaesthetics, while the other 2 trained in scout and scrub nurse procedures.


Becoming familiar with the surgical tools at Royal Hobart Hospital
Lotter and I practicing our anaesthetics techniques in a mock surgery
Mock appendectomy surgery

The next part of our training was safe, proficient riding and handling of quad bikes. These bikes will be our main form of transport when travelling to field projects  and huts during the winter months. This travel is carried out mainly on the sea ice when it re-freezes around March/April next year.

Training on quad bikes in bushland behind the Antarctic Division in Kingston Tasmania
Negotiating a ‘figure of 8 course during quad bike training at Kingston Tasmania

During the summer season at Davis (November to March) the sea ice breaks out and there is the opportunity to do some boating. There are 3 IRB’s (Inflatable Rubber Boats) at Davis and there are science and surveying projects which require the use of these craft. There are also some excellent calm summer days and when it is safe to do so – ice berg cruises may also occur.

In September a group of expeditioners headed down to Kettering where the AAD has a IRB training facility. We were there for a week to learn how to be competent crew on the zodiacs.

Kettering Tasmania – Mick telling us about the finer points of a zodiac
Kettering Tasmania – we had to learn how to pull a zodiac apart, then put it back together as well as how to make repairs
Some instruction from Mick out on the waters off Kettering
Just north of Bruny Island – Rhys at the tiller while Rob and Mick look on 
Looking for a safe place to nudge up against the rocks 

I have arrived at Davis and in the near future I will have more time to bring you more pictures and stories of this wonderful place

The next post will be of other training – especially in case of emergency.

Until then

Cheers from the south

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