Our experience of the Antarctic weather, so far, has been a delight (but this brings its own challenges…). Low winds, sunny/overcast skies with the most dynamic clouds (I love dynamic clouds, see timelapse), and temperatures of -10 to -1°C. Entirely acceptable weather to do survival training in. In fact, I’ve been warmer in Antarctica than I was in Canberra. Seriously, sort your building design Canberrans.



Our FTO (field training officer) was a lovely bloke nicknamed Psycho. The name came from an incident 15 ish years ago on station where he dressed up as the guy from the movie Psycho…. topped off a fully revved chainsaw (sans chain). The course involved some navigation work, sea ice awareness (don’t fall through the sea ice), and good tips about what to do in a blizzard.


Psycho, featuring Di…. being Di


We trekked to Shirley Island, about 2km from station, which involved walking over some thinning sea ice. Shirley is known for its Adelie penguin colony. They’re the most adorable stupid things. I couldn’t stop laughing / gawking as they waddled around on the rocks. One was particularly inquisitive and decided to come see what we were doing on the ice. I scored some pretty good shots before it waddled away, flippers outstretched. Hilarious.



We also had to camp out overnight in an emergency bivvy, locally referred to as a chip packet. It’s literally a giant orange plastic sack with a tie at one end that you sleep in. We dug a little ‘grave’ that we could nest in overnight. We’re told if the winds pick up (think >90 knots) having our chip packet dug in a bit will make for a more pleasant experience. So, we slept in a orange chip packet (body bag) in an icy grave. I did poke my head out at about 2 or 3 am to see the sunrise (or sunset… I’m not quite sure). It cast the most beautiful reds and oranges over the normally blue/white ice.


Our chip packets nicely dug into their graves. This was 2 or 3am after being slapped awake.


There is one issue with the whole chip packet thing. Condensation from your breath / body ices on the inner surface of the bag. As it flaps in the wind it gives you little moist slaps on the face… I suppose it isn’t supposed to be all fun.