Davis – A November Snapshot

With re-supply over the station was still a hive of activity. The wintering crew of the 69th ANARE (Australian National Antarctic Research Expedition were on their final day on station. While the new incoming 70th ANARE were already busy organising their busy program for the up-coming summer.

At meal times the mess was busy – this is the main cold porch to the LQ (Living Quarters)

We had a handover ceremony – with the out going station leader handing over the ‘keys to the station’ to Kirsten, the incoming SL. More or less after the ceremony the outgoing crew boarded the two hägglunds and made their way out across the sea ice to the Aurora Australis.

Some of the winter crew (ANARE 69)  and some ’round-trippers’ leaving  Davis in the new pink hägglund (Opal)
The last of ANARE 69 ready to board Opal for their trip out to the AA

The next day the Aurora Australis slowly turned around in the ice and then sailed down the path she had made a over a week earlier.

The Aurora Australis departing Davis

The busy summer had begun – It was going to be a hectic time on station in the up-coming weeks with many projects and programs to commence.

Apart from emails – the station white board is a good source of important notices and information
A few minutes before midnight – sunset would be at 14 minutes past midnight and then rise again at 0251 – it was strange not to see the AA parked in the ice

One of the first things to put in place is the fire  and emergency response team. So in the first week we had training sessions in fire response as well as the medical team (Lay Surgical Assistants) having a training session. The winter expeditioners were split into two Fire/ER teams.

Fire Team #1 practice their skills

Meanwhile the trades started their work programs.

Michael Goldstein (Goldie) work on a important piece of equipment – a drill rig – which will be used extensively for the “Modernisation Project”
Plant Operator – Doreen – uses a large excavator to clear snow and ice around the station

Because of extensive daylight hours – there was plenty of opportunity to explore the station and surrounds (Station Limits). On the 24th of November the sun set at 1:18am then rise again at 1:49am. Then it wouldn’t set again until the 19th of January.

Late afternoon sun still high in the sky to the East

One of my favourite tricks in photography is to take a picture of a reflection, particularly in small puddles of water. Some examples of this to follow.

A small puddle on the road – Science building on the left and Green store on the right
Arrival and Departure terminal at Davis Station
There is some very big machinery around Davis Station
A startling sunny day  looking towards the ‘pineapple’ – No sunset from today. This bulding was the field store when I was here in 2005 – it is now the band room
The Met building – where I work. The tall doors on the right is where we launch the weather balloons

As mentioned in a previous post – I am the Post Master on Station. We have a building which is  the Post Office. This small building has an amazing history – originally it was built on Heard Island in 1953 and housed the radio theodolite for tracking balloons. It was from a World War II design and prefabricated for easy construction at Heard Island. It was moved to Davis in 1959 after a brief stay at Mawson Station.

According to Davis Station Heritage Study (Rando & Davies 1996), this small, hexagonal shaped building was constructed of eight timber-framed, plywood-clad panels, filled with ‘Dufaylite’ insulation. It was used as a radio theodolite hut until 1962 and was then used mainly to store paint and clothing. When I was here in 2005 it was being used as the music/band hut.

The Post Office – originally constructed at Heard Island in 1953 and is the last surviving building of its type

There are also other old buildings around station – one of which is a remnant of the old Davis Station. It is now used as the ‘hobby’ hut and is stocked with tools and machinery for expeditioners to construct their hobby projects.

Hobby Hut – a remnant of the old Davis Station
Reflection of the Hobby Hut with the current Davis Station in the background

Once again I took out my Nikkor Micro 105mm f2.8 lens with the following result.

Amazing ice crystals sparkle in the bright sun light
The Davis Living Quarters and Operations building reflected in a small road side puddle

After re-supply many of the containers and equipment was stored in various places around the station until a place could be found for them. This included the beach in front of the station.

Grader with trailer to carry shipping containers parked on the beach

Included in the cargo to arrive on station were two work boats, which will be used to survey the surrounding  shipping channel and ocean floor in the local area of Prydz Bay.

Geo Science Australia owned a yellow boat called the Howard Burton. The second, red boat called the Wyatt Earp is owned and operated by the Royal Australian Navy.

Geo Science’s Howard Burton on the beach in front of the station
Royal Australian Navy’s  Wyatt Earp 
New skidoo arrives at the station – for use at Whoop Whoop (Davis skiway on the plateau)
The pink hägglund Opal returns from the seaice – where some AGSO’s (Air Ground Support Officer) have been dismantling the runway on the ice

One evening after work a group of 8, including myself, went on a walk around the Station Limits to the northwest of the station. We came back along the shore of Heidemann Bay.

“Oh what a feeling” moment out on our walk around station limits

There are some amazing rocks and rock formations out in the Vestfold Hills

This rock is around 1 metre in length – there was once some extreme molten heat in this part of the world
Smiley Face in the Vestfold Hills
Some Serious Rock Art in the Vestfold Hills near Davis
Another ice crystal photo with my Micro lens
Old Traverse Van at the back of Station

One of the jobs at the beginning of summer was to clean the windows while the temperatures were mostly above 0℃ (32℉). You would have thought that some of the external windows (double glazed) were inaccessible.

View from inside the LQ – Cleaning the external windows
View from the outside the LQ- Cleaning the external windows
Our incredible view from the lounge of the LQ

My job at Davis is to do weather observations. Part of the job is the release of weather balloons – this happens twice daily at 0615 and 1815 local Davis time which is 2315 UTC and 1115 UTC. At these times weather balloons are released and tracked all over the world, with the data fed into supercomputers to produce model profiles snapshots of the entire Earth’s atmosphere.

Beneath the balloon is attached a radiosonde – a instrument that transmits pressure, temperature, relative humidity, wind speed, and wind direction as it makes its way up through the atmosphere. It transmits this information back to base every second until the balloon bursts at anywhere between 25,000 and 37,000 metres (this takes between 1.25 and 2.5 hours).

On Wednesdays we send a bigger balloon with ozone senses.

Ozone radiosonde balloon release from Davis Weather Station

Thanks for your attention.

Please leave comments or questions.

Until Next time…..





2 thoughts on “Davis – A November Snapshot

  1. Hi Barry, thanks for another great insight into life at Davis Station. How many are stationed there at the moment & do you have a structured working week. As we are enjoying the warm days & cooler nights of autumn what is the average temperature you’re experiencing & do you ever acclimatise to the conditions? I spend a couple of days a week with my 2 young grandsons & the 2 year old is very interested in your photos. The Adelie penguins were a favourite but he loved the big machinery in this post. Best wishes, Lynne Michaelides.


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