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’.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Continuing our tour we entered as many of the buildings as was safe to do so.
Many of the buildings are made up of modules which are reconfigured shipping containers.
There are also many large vehicles. These give the station the look of a mine site.
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.
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.
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.
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.
During some down time – I managed to have short walks to familiarise myself with the station.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Next Time – The Aurora Australis parked in the Ice….