|Two Docs out on field on survival training, Doc Elise on the left.|
(Photo courtsey of Dr Elise Roberts)
So let’s get back to Part 2 of Coloured Lego Block Buildings, an Orange Roughy and Yellow Chip Packets in a White Winter Wonderland – the Colourful World of Casey and we’re definitely up to the next part of the story, Yellow Chip Packets! For those that have ventured south to an Australian Antarctic Station you know exactly what I’m talking about – it’s survival training time. For the lucky readers out there that received my newsletters home last time I was down at Casey you’re probably thinking – why are you doing survival training again. Your training only remains current for 3 years and so mine was just out of date meaning that it was time to do a refresher, it’s a good way to get off station and meet other expeditioners not in your own team. Our group of Lucas, Wei, Lenneke, Felicity (All ICECAP), Linda, Georgia (Inventory Program), Dr Elise and myself would be heading off with FTO Paula and we would be doing this while the ship was still carrying out resupply. Linda, Georgia and Elise had recently arrived from the ship where they had been residing during resupply and had only just settled into their rooms before they were “whisked” away for survival training.
|Getting gear for our packs ready in the Field Store to head|
off, all ready to survive!
Before we could leave the Field Training store we got a lesson on some map and compass work, it’s always good to have a refresher on this and remind yourself how to find a bearing and how to give a grid reference. It was then time to head downstairs but before we could head off into the big bad outside we had to pick up tonight’s dinner – ration packs. These ration packs are dehydrated meals in a sealed bag that you add hot water to in order to get a delicious meal ... I had been warned my first season at Casey not to get the pack with tuna which I remembered so I got a Veal Italienne, a tomato based meal. Also on offer were some muesli bars, packets of milo and the all important chocolate. We also picked up some tea and tim tams from the mess for “dessert” after dinner. We then had time to ditch any unwanted items we had back in out rooms before meeting in the wallow where we would be leaving from. Upon meeting in the mess we learnt the etiquette of leaving station. In order to leave station there are a few things to do before you can actually depart which I’ll list here:
- Pick up a first aid kit from the Docs.
- In the mess turn your tag from white (meaning you’re on station) to red and write what your intentions are on the board along with when you are expected back and what radio channel can be contacted on.
- Go to comms in the Operations building and collect a hand held GPS with spare batteries, radio and spare battery, EPIRB and in some cases a sat phone.
- Write your intentions on the board at comms including who is in the field party, where you are heading to and the time which you will sked in with them in the evening (a bit like a check up call).
- And finally as you leave the station limits you radio into comms letting them know you are about to leave station – the call sign for Casey is “VNJ Casey”.
|Snow Petrels putting on an aerial display at Reeve Hill|
So with everything that we needed collected we radioed into Comms and we were on our way making our way along the cane line. Our first destination would be down towards the sea ice which connects the Bailey Peninsular, where Casey is, to Shirley Island, home to a rowdy group of Adelié penguins. But first Paula got us to use our maps to make sure we were going in the correct direction by looking at the landmarks around us. One prominent feature at Casey is Reeve Hill which bears a cross in memory of Geoffrey Reeve who passed away at Casey 1979 of exposure after he became lost in a blizzard at Robinson Ridge some 10 km away from the station (thanks Goldie for this information). The hill and the cross are clearly marked on the station maps and can be easily identified when you are walking around the station.
|Little Tuxedoed visitors from|
|A curious Adelié|
indeed hatched and there were now chicks, hopefully I might get to see the fluffy little ones if I get out on an iceberg cruise in the coming weeks from a distance.
With our penguin experience over it was now time to do a little bit more navigation this time it would be compass vs GPS. So half of us used the good old method of GPS and map and the other half pulled out their GPS, just like the ones you use Mum and Dad for geocaching (link to geocaching). We then headed off to the receiver hut in the antennae farm using our trusty implements. It’s always interesting to compare the two and while we got there by both methods it highlights that in order to get your GPS to correctly point in the right direction you need to be moving. So after arriving there we had a quick discussion before going to the campsite way point in the GPS and heading off in the direction towards where we would be staying the night. While it wasn’t freezing cold and the sun was
out it didn’t
mean that we didn’t have to be careful where we walked. There were areas
melting out which could result in very wet feet if we didn’t watch where we put
them and patches of blue ice under a very thin veil of snow. Blue ice is very,
very slippery and I’m very nervous walking on slippery surface post the
rupturing and repair of my PCL. So in order not to come a cropper you walk on
the patches which are not light blue instead you walk on the snow and little
shuffle steps much like a penguin.
|MSR stove lighting 101 in our ice kitchen|
|Survival camp site already for "sleep".|
- Alpha – Position information. Can be a lat/long, grid reference or feature or hut name.
- Bravo – Health of party: number, health and fitness of party.
- Charlie – Condition of vehicles, in our case not applicable.
- Delta – Intentions: what are going to be doing in the next 24 hours.
- Echo – Weather, cloud cover which is reported in octas and if you know your clouds what type they are, wind direction, horizon definition.
- Foxtrot – State of track, is it firm, melting, thin ice etc …
- Golf – Other information or requests, stand by for the next blog to see what request we put in on a trip out in the field J
|Waiting patiently for food to rehydrate.|
|Dehydrated goodness ready to eat!|
|Pee Bottle - orange in|
colour so not to mix up with
your water bottle.
|Packed in like a sardine in my chip packet ready for a|
"restful" night ...
|Time to pack up and head back to the Red Shed.|
|What was left of the camp site ...|
And like resupply being over so is this post, I’m writing listening to two friends practise an acoustic set in the music area, it’s what I needed today to help me finish this so thanks guys.
|See you later Aurora Australis.|
Thanks for for the visit and the cargo!
“It’s your place in the world; it’s your life. Go on and do all you can with it, and make it the life you want to live” – Mae Jemison (NASA astronaut, 1956)
Next up Meet the Remediation Team, plus Crib, Christmas and New Year all rolled into one!