Welcome to Davis

Stepping out of the helicopter onto the helipad at Davis – I had this overwhelming sense of familiarity.

As we walked down the road to the Living Quarters (LQ) It was amazing to look out across the frozen expanse of Prydz Bay. The Aurora Australis could be seen amongst the distant icebergs slowly making its way to its ‘parking area’.

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The AA making it’s way through the sea ice to its ‘parking area’. The winter crew has graded a road to and from this parking area

This is the third time I had been to Davis. First as a forecaster during the southern summer in 2005/06 and the 2nd time was on my way home from Casey Station in 2008.

Most of the buildings were familiar, though when I stepped into the new Living Quarters it was like stepping into a ski resort.

After some familiarisation I brought my gear up to my room (44) in the SMQ (Sleeping and Medical Quarters.

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This is what I was greeted with when I entered my room
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The view from Room 44 in the SMQ

After some lunch in the spacious dining area – I was included in a group of new arrivals to go through station induction, which concluded with a tour of the station.

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Station tour – looking west – The ANARESAT radome on the left, the yellow Operations building in the centre and the corner of the Green LQ on the right
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Meanwhile re-supply was in full swing – one of the helicopters sling loading a cage pallet

We entered a new building that housed the brand new waste water treatment plant – a state of the art treatment facility that is of such good design that it is said to produce water that is of drinking quality – though this will not be its purpose.

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Part of the new Davis Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant (AWTP)
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Water tanks in the Tank House

Next stop on the tour was the EVS (Emergency Vehicle Shed) This is where Davis’s version of a fire truck – which is a Hägglund with the trailer converted to a water tanker and pumping station. Also in the EVS is the SAR (Search and Rescue) Hägglund and to SAR Quad bikes.

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The Fire Hägglund and the SAR Quad bikes in the EVS

Continuing our tour we entered as many of the buildings as was safe to do so.

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there are 3 Hägglunds on station – this blue one would soon return to Australia on the Aurora Australis

Many of the buildings are made up of modules which are reconfigured shipping containers.

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A bit of comic relief in the Science Project marshalling building (shared with Field Store and Boating shed)  – note this building is mostly constructed with shipping containers

There are also many large vehicles. These give the station the look of a mine site.

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A serious fork lift – complete with snow chains
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There are many shipping containers scattered all around the station – mostly used for storage

At all four Australian Antarctic bases the biggest building on station is usually the Green Store. This is where most the supplies for the year are kept. The Green Store at Davis also has a Gymnasium, spa and sauna room. Because of its height it also has a decent climbing wall.

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Inside the Green Store – several huge storage racks which are moveable on rails. There is a fork lift which can reach the highest shelves
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Inside the Green Store – The awesome climbing wall on the right and on the left access to the gym, sauna and spa

When we arrived at Davis the summer melt had just begun. On the 11th of November the sun was set at 11:25 pm and rose on the 12th at 3:38 am. In the hours between sunset and sunrise the sun was only just below the horizon, so during these hours it was twilight.

The sun would set for the last time at 1:11 am on the 24th of November then rise at 1:56 am – from this time the sun would be above the horizon until the 18th of January 2017.

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Snow drift near a small fuel tank next to the Science building
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During the winter season the snow would accumulate on the lee side of buildings, hills or any large object – this is known as a blizz tail
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Snow sculptured by the wind around some of the site services – The pipes carry water, waste water and fuel between buildings – these are well insulated and have heated wires (traces) through them to stop them from freezing
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Blizz tail in the lee of the old, unused LQ (Living Quarters)
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A different view of the blizz tail in the lee of the old LQ
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Wind sculptured blizz tail in the lee of the new LQ
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Semi permanent blizz tail of Anchorage Island – about 2 km from station
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The Aurora Australis close to its parking spot on the 12th of November – view taken from in front of the Weather (BoM) building showing the Pineapple and old Weather balloon building (red)

There is plenty of International co-operation in Antarctica. On the 12th of November we had a Chinese Basler aircraft land on the sea ice in front of the station. The Basler The plane is flown by Canadian pilots. This aircraft was used to ferry expeditioners and some supplies between Casey, Davis and Mawson stations.

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The black flags mark the skiway/runway on the sea ice in front of Davis Station. In the background are hundreds of icebergs embedded in the sea ice
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The Basler approaches the skiway from the south
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The Basler just about to land on the sea ice runway
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The CHINARE Basler has landed
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Expeditioners await the arrival of passengers from the Basler

Whilst the station was in full re-supply mode – I was in the Met office for a few days with the outgoing Met OIC (Craig) as he handed over the Met office duties. This is quite a intensive time on station with so much happening.

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Wide-angle phot0 of some of the weather instruments – Stevenson Screen and snow guage
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Another wide-angle – showing the anemometer, Craig and the blue Met building

During some down time – I managed to have short walks to familiarise myself with the station.

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The AA in its parking spot about 3.4km off station. In the foreground big tide cracks and ridges can be seen
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Standing in front of the Davis sign post

For seven days the station was very busy with re-supply and re-fueling. Around 900000 litres of diesel fuel was transferred from the ship to the station in a 48 hour operation. Also all the food and other supplies came ashore and were packed away for the up-coming year.

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All hands on deck – unloading produce from a sea container into the cold store beneath the LQ
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A brand new ‘ferrari red’ hägglund arrives on station

A very important vehicle arrived on station – a pink hägglund called Opal – a tribute to those whose lives have been affected by cancer. There will be more about Opal in a future blog post.

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Opal the pink hägglund arrives across the sea ice to Davis Station
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Opal arrives at the station

I came back to my room after a shift and found I could not enter. All my gear had arrived and as a joke they piled all the boxes and crates in my doorway. It was exciting unpacking and setting up my own space.

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Unpacking all my boxes and crates

one of my jobs on station is Post Office Manager. in the middle of re-supply I received the crate filled with postal stuff – including First Day of issue envelopes and stamps. It also included all the packaging and other paraphernalia needed to send letters and packages back to Australia and the rest of the world. That night I opened the Post Office.

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The 

Late one evening after 10pm the conditions outside were superb – so I went for a walk around station taking photographs, trying all the lens that I brought. It was a beautiful still and sunny night.

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Looking out over the sea ice at the distant ice bergs 

 

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The soon to be RTA’d (Return To Australia) red hägglund parked near the link (disused) between the SMQ and the old LQ
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Icicles form on the snow and ice that has been graded from the roadway – The AA in its parking spot
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The Davis sign next to the Operations Building
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A closer view of the Davis sign
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The LQ (darker green) and the SMQ
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I love my new Nikkor Micro 105mm f2.8

Next Time – The Aurora Australis parked in the Ice….

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