An Antarctic weekend away, snow petrels keep the Casey crew company, and another spectacular aurora.

A weekend at Brownings

By Kelly M — Station Chef

Taking advantage of some good weather, combined with a long weekend, Gordon, Zac and myself organised a trip off station to Brownings hut for a night. After a four hour drive in a Hägglunds, we arrived at the hut and set ourselves up. We then headed off to explore the surrounding area in the hope that we might see some of the last wildlife before winter sends them out to sea, as well as taking in the amazing sight of the Vanderford Glacier. We were fortunate that visibility was good, even though the temperatures were hovering at around −20 degrees and the wind was blowing at about 10 knots (enough to freeze my eyelashes!).

After an hour long walk around to the edge of the glacier to get to a known safe access spot, we were greeted by the sight of a Weddell Seal basking in the sun on an ice pancake just past the tide cracks in the sea ice. We were then greeted by a couple of late moulting Adélie penguins that were looking longingly at the ocean, and a few of the last remaining elephant seals in wallows a little higher up in the rocks.

We took the photos that we wanted then headed off back to the hut, which took a good two hours as we were walking into the wind and up hill. We finally arrived back at the hut and settled in for a hot drink and meal, to have the wind outside pick up to about 50 knots, so we spent the evening playing cards and planning the next day.

As we woke to a relatively wind free morning, we spent a few hours exploring and photographing further along the nearby coastline, then headed back to the hut for a warm drink and to clean the hut and pack up before setting off back to Casey station.

Commonly called ‘jollies’ these small breaks from Station are a great opportunity to really relax and enjoy our incredible surroundings, and really appreciate the amazing place we are in and great friends that we have made.

Petrels keeping us company at Casey and return of the auroras

It has been another busy week at Casey, with most relaxing into a good work routine and making the most of the good weather days to get out around station.

This week we enjoyed more of the snow petrels around station. This allows for an up-close experience of these Antarctic birds as they circle around and will often land only metres away from you if you sit quietly.

We also had the best aurora of the season. It lasted through the night, giving those who managed to get out of bed a great show of greens and reds right across the sky.

Kelly and Gordon took in one of the spectacular sunsets over the Bailey Peninsula that are starting to be common at this time of year. The freezing conditions cause the ice to form in the air, catching the last of the sunlight and turning the clouds and the skyline bright pink with a blue night sky background.