Tuesday, December 17, 2013

56 - Pre Departure field training.............Macca style

Hello again Friends,

Well I'm finally here.....taken a little longer than planned but as normal with this job you need to both be flexible and just go with it or one season is all you'll be able to handle. So going to Macca is a little different to going to the continent in respect to almost everything. The most obvious is no snow and LOTS more wildlife. Tasmanian Parks & Wildlife Service plays a big part to do with the management of the World Heritage listed island .  However this partnership as an expeditionar externally is very similar to the management of any of the AAD stations.

More about the island and all those goodies in in the next blog, now its time for how and what we had to do to get here. As on the continent we have to complete field training, however this normally is done once we arrive. With Macca expos this is done during training in Hobart. Lucky for me I'm not going in with all strangers. David Hawley AKA Fridgy was an expo wintering with Rowdy at Davis in 2011-12 so really I only meet Fridgy breifly during resupply before he departed home. 

As we had both been south but both never been to Macca we both needed to complete this field training section. I remember this quite well as on the Sunday 13th Oct I had been walking around Hobart and it suddenly started to hail. Only half pea size but there was more to come as this field training hadn't really been explained to us what it involved and where we were going to be doing it. I did however assume that we would be doing it out the back of the Div, how wrong was I!

Monday the 14th Oct I headed into the Div for training and as I departed the hotel I noticed that Mt Wellington was covered in snow! Not usual but its Tasmania ill just roll with it I guess. The following day we were going to be up there little did we know! Not that far from town but it might as well be a different world as once we got up there it would have been 10-15c cooler and as at that time two fronts had collided the wind was a little stronger too. Actually at 8pm that night Fridgy was telling me BOM recorded wind gusting to 74knots and temp of 2c. The Field training officer or FTO's told us is it the most like Macca field training they had done in a number if years.

 Pic : Wikipedia

So with the wind and coolness being as it was you can tell below we had all of our Macca gear on and it was actually quite comfortable despite the grimace on my face, just a bad shot I'm thinking.

 Pic: David Hawley

                    Pic: David Hawley

 These pics were taken in the megga bivvy which is basically a oversized chip sack that has the capabilities of sheltering up to four people. Above is the external pic and obviously right is the inside one with Mick trying to put is young in my ear for some reason. At least the sunnies make me look cool.... LOL

                                                                                Pic: David Hawley
The view from our camp site was quite nice too.........

  Pic: David Hawley

Also Tuesday the 15th Oct was the departure for Voyage 1 and below you can see the orange taxi on its way to drop the summer/winter crew at Davis before bringing back the outgoing winter crew from Davis and a couple from different stations. More about that a little later.

  Pic: David Hawley

Not a truly accurate shot here as it was taken after we had come off the mountain but the yellow cocoon is what we slept in. It is a gortex bivvy bag specifically designed I believe for Macca. Great in theory, for someone a lot shorter that docent breath air while its raining. Now I say that because after finding my spot for the night, had some nice shrubs to soften hard ground I put the bivvy on the ground trying to not turn it into a kite, not an easy task when its gusting to 72 knots. Slipped the thin mattress into it then the sleeping bag and liner. SO its all in there except me, at this point its drizzling rain and still blowing. I quickly get undressed and sit on a rock and start to slide into the bag. All good to this point I'm now on my bum only the top half to go. If you look below you'll notice where my head is, now to put this in a better perspective that isn't including the sleeping bag, mattress and liner. Once you add the rest and you'll understand when i say there wasn't any more room to fit me with a three day growth in it with me.

Finally after some shifting around from side to side and zipping the bag up ( as it was raining) I was as comfortable as I was going to get and promptly fell asleep. Sleeping isn't one thing I find difficult, waking is a different story but not this time!! About half an hour later I woke to what i first though was a bout of claustrophobia. Now I'm not claustrophobic but thats what it felt like, I was beginning to panic as I opened the zip to get some air. I was almost hyperventilating and didn't care that putting my head outside was going to get me wet. Short time later I was ok and got back in so I could sleep again only to be woken up about half an hour later again same thing to realise that it was oxygen depravation. Next day I found out that i wasn't the only one who this had happened to. 
  Pic: David Hawley

Full kit 15kg on my back and only a short walk compared to what I'm going to having on Macca.

Pic: David Hawley

Looking closely you'll see a familiar nose on the ground. They always see to pick the heaviest person for the stretcher training.

  Pic: David Hawley

The Macca stretcher twist. As there isn't much if any opportunity of getting machines into much of the island they developed this attachable wheel to assist with fatigue of the stretcher bearers.

 Pic: David Hawley

While we were in Hobart bedsides the field training we also received a Class A Asbestos removal license as many of the buildings and infrustructure at Macca have been constructed using it and some works were going to involve the removal of it. Boring and wouldn't be interested in seeing the pics of a class room however i will say that its is very scary stuff and don't really want too much to do with it!

So all this training happened in October for two weeks then i was flown home for a month. I was to fly back 5 days before the ship arrived to attend all the pre departure briefings before departure but your going to have to wait for the next blog to get into that part of the story..............



P.S..............."The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have
                   created a society that honours the servant and has forgotten the gift."
                   Albert Einstein