Time for a cheery post!
It’s the day after Australia Day 2018 at Davis Station, and the sheer lack of people at 7am is unsurprising (considering how the evening was shaping up when I bailed at 11pm)
Australia Day for us is a bit like the 4th of July in the USA, and it can get just as
bogan…interesting. It’s a day of celebration or mourning, depending on whether you came on a boat or walked here. (don’t even start)
So lets blog…catch up…shoot the shit…chew the fat…how are you? Whats new? I’m well…thanks for asking.
Deciding not to hide out, and having a rare 3 days in a row off, Australia Day 2018 began pretty damn well with a sleep in and a quiet breakfast overlooking the cranky penguin molting on the bottom steps of the LQ and Mess.
This little fella was not happy and had solidly planted himself in THE single most inconvenient place in the entire station to start his summer molt. These guys will just pick a random spot and plonk themselves down for days, squarking the crap out of anyone that comes close, his little penguin body language saying it all – “just F*ck off and leave me alone”.
Most people here can relate as its getting to the pointy end of the season.
We cant just shoo them off, so being the environmentally aware crew that we are, he was quickly ‘hatted off’ and left to his own devices as the people here in station began to wander in for breakfast and prepare for the Australia Day festivities.
So…what would today bring?
Well apart from Terry the Plumber begin a massive media sensation back home and in the UK ( his Australian citizenship ceremony was performed here on Wednesday, which apparently was only the second time in history it’s happened down in Antarctica), we had the Olympic Games – Antarctic style.
A full program for the sporty types : the Davis Inaugural Olympic Games comprising of a dazzling array of team sporting events on the beach in sizzling sub zero weather and grey skies followed by cricket in the Green Store. It was a teams event and a veritible united nations of countries represented.
For the non-sporties or the generally disinterested, I ran up Crocodile Dundee and then Crackerjack in the theatrette for an afternoon of Aussie themed comedy – basically on autoplay.
Today it is bloody freezing outside, no sun with 20 knot winds and a wind chill down to -7. Cold enough to cancel the traditional Australia Day swim (much to the relief of many).
Making a wise decision to actually watch the Olympics from the comfort of the leather lounges, heating and open bar of the upper living area I was quickly joined by a non-sportie crew to watch the fun and games through the large bay windows overlooking the beach.
So began the 5 hours or so of merciless commentary from our impromptu peanut gallery: a veritable “This Sporting Life” with Roy and HG – Antarctic style.
‘Best Public Urination’ was hotly contested, as was ‘Craziest Penguin Attack’, ‘Most Hypothermic Competitor’, and ‘Shittest Long Jump’.
As the afternoon ground on, the pace slowed even more but the fun continued : ‘Worst Tunnelball Throw’ was a nailbiter; ‘Longest Lingering Butt Slap’, ‘Most Homoerotic Male Wrestling’, and “Most Unneccesary Touching” drew big crowds; and finally ‘Best Team Desertion’ and ‘Most Imaginative Buggering Off Home’ brought the afternoon to an shivering anticlimax.
(Of course our proudest day wouldn’t be complete without that old familiar chestnut: muscular bearded men and women in
tights sports skins running around wearing Australian flags as capes)
Needless to say I will NOT be posting the videos. They may have to be burned.
Hmmm on second thought…could be useful!
I don’t think I’ve laughed so much for a long time and actually had trouble filming the events (must remember to wipe the audio) as I was constantly having to wipe tears from my eyes from laughing too much as we tore shreds of the unfortunate and mildly hypothermic competitors freezing to death on the frosty beach below.
Heheheh….Suckers <sips beer, eats microwaved Vegemite and Cheese scroll, puts feet up>
Much like the real Olympics though, the Davis version was overly long and unnecessarily cruel. Case in point – the last event : The Marathon.
After 5 torturous competitive hours in the cold, team champions were subjected to a series of situps/pushup challenges and then a almost-2 Km marathon sprint with a 10KG weight to bring back from the half way turnaround point – WTF!! Might as well kicked them in the groin as well just for fun.
A few competitors are still running. One stopped to have a leak. Several sorta slinked away and hid behind shipping containers til the pack returned. Many were tackled by
boozy overexcited teammates on the way back. I’m fairly certain at least one person cried.
You can imagine the scene I’m sure.
Fortunately everyone that survived the beach had a great time and proudly wore their Gold Silver and Bronze medals way into the evening.
Overall it was a massive success and absolutely frickin’ hilarious to watch.
Around 5pm, after the hordes descended on the Mess for dinner and then hit the bar the party got started with a home-baked “Hottest 100” put together by Sammy S (her 30th birthday as well – Happy Birthday Sam!) and favourites chosen by Expeditioners and beamed out over slushy Fm (one of our local FM transmitters) – an eclectic collection of music ranging from death metal to electronic pop with a shit ton of 90s alt rock and “classic hits” that got most of the crowd up and singing.
Then as per every Australia day ever, the booze flowed, people loosened up and the evening started to get sloppy as expected (myself included). People start tackling each other, the darts comp starts to throw from 10 metres through a crowd, the volume of the conversations increase to drown our the music which then increases to overcome the volume of the conversation…we’ve all been there.
But it was really so much fun to get involved and chat/talk shit and just relax.
The tempo of the evening started to ramp up, people were getting sillier and looser, the conversation getting less conversational, voices raised, music louder and louder…
At one point a Canadian kicked the blow up Boxing Kangaroo across the room. That drew some bristles immediately. Right about then I thought there may be blood and that possibly it was time to go.
Then, rather dramatically around 10pm, the main powerhouse went down and we suddenly were plunged in silence and darkness.
No lights. No heating. No tunes. OH SHIT the beer fridges are out.
The on call sparkies rallied and swarmed out to see what had happened.
The emergency lights came on and the dim lights flickered into life.
Whey heyyyyy!…the party continued.
The IPA on tap ran out, then the cider, then the XPA, then the bottles. Out came the personal spirits stashes, the mixes got stronger and the party tempo increased yet again.
In the band room the local Davis musos grabbed guitars and drums and whatever else could make a sound and started jamming (awesome), a lone stumpy figure dressed in a walrus onesie – lamenting the demise of the MP3 PC playing the music –
started howling singing his own selection of indecipherable songs at the top of his lungs (and apparently didn’t stop til 3am).
We should have the power out more often!
Then the old ‘one beer too may’ syndrome kicked, in and moderately drunk Jamie arrived around 10.30pm.
I think someone asked me to fix a non-booting computer and, after just been jarred that all I do is turn computers off and on, I told them (perhaps a little too earnestly) to fix it themselves (exact words were possibly “you have a brain, eyes and a finger – follow the instructions and fix it yourself then – I’m off duty”)
‘Nicely done” said my little monkey autopilot “now give them the finger”
Time to go to bed, Jamie
So bright and early today, 6.30am I’m proud to say, I arose bright and sparkly, no hangover, no ill effects , and a after having a great nights sleep wandered down for breakfast just in time to see the Aurora Australis sail/steam/chug into Prydz Bay to begin our emergency water supply transfer.
I haven’t seen the ship since she left back in November, and the sight of her bright orange hull is such a startling contrast to the whites of the ice and the blue of the ocean.
Davis water supplies here, being in the largest ice-free area in the Antarctic, are adequate but relatively small – our Reverse Osmosis plant is broken and they cant fix it, so we cant produce our own water and supplies are low. The ship has been diverted from Mawson resupply operation to transfer her water to us and supplement our supply for winter.
So today is looking good : I’ve bailed out of the hiking trip out to Brooks Hut (for various reasons I wont go into but strangely still feel the need to mention – you know I’m DYING to say), and going to spend the day taking photos around station of the water transfer, and chillaxing.
My biggest problem today so far is that they’ve ran out of Vegemite AND Jatz crackers.
Devastating lack of post-hangover saltiness and looks of horror and disappointment abound as the news spreads around station.
Thank God it wasn’t yesterday.
That would have been absolutely unacceptably un-Australian.
My funkiness has passed finally, after a solid week of “MEH”.
I think i just needed to blow off some steam and relax for a change. Last night did the trick.
It easy to forget how stressful this environment is 24/7 and its effects creep up on you slowly but surely. No-one is spared and everyone can get as taught as a piano wire at times.
Something to remember in the future : must make time to really let go of things and chill.
It’s ok to lock yourself away for a little while but overall being around your team and co-workers really is the best medicine to deal with the funky stuff.
…and always remember to breathe.