It’s my first winter season working for the Australian Antarctic Division, which means there are a lot of new ‘first times’ that are getting their first ‘Bryce’ experience.
It’s my first time working on power generation as an electrician. My first time living in a place where the ocean freezes over and elephant seals relax on the cold beach. My first time living in an environment where dressing up no longer means looking good for a night out on the town. Rather dressing up means getting as much clothing on as possible to stay warm and walk to the next building. The list goes on.
Most nights I sit in the comfortable living area and gaze outside to the beautiful icebergs and colourful sunsets on the horizon. A lot of the time my mind wanders back through the memories of our season so far. The excitement of arriving to station, the summer expeditioners, the warm days and walks through the Vestfold Hills with these new–found friends. It’s so strange to think that only six weeks ago I was sharing a drink with them in the bar, dinner with them in the mess and many a laugh as well.
Which leads me to the greatest ‘first time’ of them all. It’s the first time, and only time, that I will ever winter at Davis station with the sixteen members of my team. I would have to be truthful and say that I still don’t really know each of them yet. To go even further, I wonder if these people truly know me yet? To some people reading, I know this must sound daunting. But to the sociable, excitable and adventurous man that I am, it’s one of the reasons I’m here.
There are not many places where you get thrown into one of the most isolated places in the world with a bunch of strangers. Plus, they pay you for it and dangle in front of you all these added bonuses: cross country skiing, the potential traverse across a glacier, quad biking through the fjords to outlying recreational huts and the walks surrounding them.
Looking forward, I know deep down that this is how I’m going to get to know my fellow winter expeditioners. The experiences that we will share together and the adventures that we will go on. Learning together, sharing a beautiful aurora at Watts Hut, walking across the sea ice to Gardner Island and driving to Iceberg Alley on the quad bikes. These are the moments when our friendships will build. These are the moments when we will drop our guards and open ourselves to one another. When we will share more than just a laugh or casual comment.
These moments are the ‘first times’ which are yet to come. But so close on the horizon that I can’t help but get excited to experience them. An Antarctic, wintering expeditioner, first time adventure!