Aerodrome pack-up and penguins smile for the cameras.

Wilkins Aerodrome pack-up

At the end of the summer flying season, with the last A319 flight taken flight — Wilkins Aerodrome infrastructure and machinery are moved from their summer location to be put in hibernation for the winter months.

The aviation wintering over team, consisting of Jeff H, Scott N, Dean A and Jeff R, along with Will VW, started the task immediately after the flight departed on 11 March. With support and assistance from the other Casey winterers the pack-up period, which was extended, is now complete.

All the runway markings and lighting are stored away, with the maintenance facility (garage) housing equipment and then the transportable buildings ‘winterised’ from snow ingress and then moved to their winter location. Doug (communications) and Emery (Bureau of Meteorology) travelled to Wilkins to winterise the communications and meteorological equipment. The smaller buildings on sleds go onto the winter berm, whereas the larger structures — mess, accommodation, operations and the garage — are placed on blue ice to help negate snow accumulation around them over the winter period.

The mess is the last building to be winterised with the great help of Chris ('C&N Plumbing') and Ben W ('Switched on Electrical') from Casey.

Once this has been achieved the machinery that needs winter servicing and maintenance is transported down the road, approximately 70 kilometres to Casey.

At this time of the year the weather is a little unpredictable and the temperatures start to retreat. There are also some amazing sights, whether it be at night with the crystal clear skies or the spectacle that the sun provides with different weather phenomena. Some windless days certainly help the cause however there were some days where it was bitterly cold: −25°C with 40 kts (do the math — brrrr, cold)

Jeff H

Penguins say cheese for the camera

The downloading and maintenance of the penguin cameras on the Clark Peninsula was carried out at the end of summer by a group of Casey wintering expeditioners. For this trip the area we were interested in was on Clark peninsula and in particular, Whitney Point where two cameras are located, and Blakeney Point where one camera is located. This area is all within the Antarctic Specially Protected Area No. 136, which is designated primarily to protect the largely undisturbed terrestrial ecosystem which supports one of the most extensive and best developed plant communities on continental Antarctica, outside the Antarctic Peninsula.

Doug, Gordon, Pete and Robert travelled on foot from Wilkes Hut to Blakeney Point through intervening valleys of ice to the camera location. There were a number of locations along the way, where a few moulting Adélie penguins could be seen in out of the way places around the rocky outcrops, along the valley areas. There were no penguins in the rookery area where the camera was located but more than expected numbers of skuas were seen circling above all areas where we travelled.

After the download, checks and maintenance on this camera were completed we then headed to the Whitney Point camera locations. A couple of Weddell seals were observed around the bay at the eastern end of Whitney Point and they took a look at us, then went back to sleep. At Whitney Point the colony areas were free of penguins, but hidden up in the rocks the occasional moulting Adélie could be seen. After completing all the work required on these cameras, we headed back to Wilkes hut for the evening.

In the normal mode when visiting Wilkes hut after a blizzard we had to spend the next 30 — 45 minutes digging our way through the blizz tail at the western end of the hut to be able to gain access.

The next morning we had a quick look around the old Wilkes station before heading back to Casey.

Doug M, Senior Communications Technician