It’s time for the great Casey beard-off. Who will have the most luxurious and healthy growth on station? Also this week, just how do you keep the lights and heat on in Antarctica?

The best Casey beard competition is won by a whisker

This week’s stories are brought to you by Will V.

The great annual beard-off was held at Casey station last Friday night, one of the biggest — if not the biggest — events of the year so far, with people coming from metres and metres away to witness the marvellous event. This year we had 5 great men with glorious beards (and some guy called Ben W) in the competition.

With our judges, the doc and the ‘Bearded Biro', at the ready, the competition started.

Each hairy entrant was judged on the following key aspects of ‘beardyness':

  • Density: How full the features of the facial hair are. Denser is considered better than sparse.
  • Size: Length is a consideration as long as it complements the overall look. A long ratty beard shouldn’t beat a well-kept, shorter beard.
  • Healthiness: The facial hair looks as healthy as it should.
  • Personal fit: How well their facial hair suits the face.

First up was Will V with a excellent beard that impressed the judges, scoring well for density with a nine out of ten, healthiness was rated as good with no food scraps discovered in there after the recent dinner.

Next up was Ben W with a beard that he may have stolen off a passing hobo. Density was not so good and, with half his dinner still in the beard, he did lose points for healthiness.

Then came Gordon (the silver fox from way back) Tait with a very solid moustache and a very good performance with the pencil test.

Up next was Scott N impressing the judges with his beard density, thus scoring a nine out of ten with a very hipster moustache as a bonus.

He was followed up by Uncle Rob who can not only get a ute stuck (what can I say, guys from MET) but he can grow a beard with the best results of the pencil test, the uv light not showing up any nasty inclusions.

Then came Emry C with a beard that we all thought was not so good but in the end did come though by scoring well for density with the judges.

Last up was Dean A, a late contestant to the comp having come to Casey on the last plane for the winter. He did well in the short time he has been here on station, blowing the judges away with density.

Once all the contestants had been thoroughly assessed by the judges,  it came down to a points decision. Coming in last was Ben W losing to Emry by size, and Ben having too much food in his beard after dinner.

In third place was Uncle Rob, and in first and second place was Will and Scott, who tied in points. The thrilling competition had to be decided by a final whisker measurement, so it came down to Scott having the longest whisker and so taking out first place and bragging rights for the best beard on station.

As Will was heard to say, when it comes to beards, size does matter.

Who turned the lights off ?

When you are in Australia and the lights go out, you make a phone call and that’s about it. Power will, eventually, be restored.

But down here, it’s a bit different. All the trades team have to work together to get the power back on quick smart. Firstly the diesos are responsible for getting the engines running, then the sparkies (known here as ‘B&C Electrical') are kept busy with the electrical aspects of the power house to keep the lights on and the power distributed around station. They also have the important job of ensuring there is no damage to the alternators or control systems associated with the power house. Finally, our plumbers (known here as ‘C&N Plumbing') need to get site services (waterworks) going to distribute heat around station and away from the big diesel engines which generate our power.

In the main power house (MPH) we have four 3306 caterpillar engines. Most of the time we have two engines running consistently and, as station load gets higher, the third engine comes on automatically. The MPH has four heat exchangers that remove heat from the engines and transfer it to site services, which then provides heating to the buildings around station.

As a backup, the station has an emergency power house (EPH). The EPH has two 3412 caterpillar engines, each one can run the whole station if needed, plus one heat exchanger for both engines that removes heat and directs it to site services. The system includes large radiators that remove excess heat and is controlled by building temperature, pressure and ventilation.