ANTARCTICA: Vlog# 1, Frozen World

G’Day, For those of you who are new here, Welcome. My name is Shane, I am an Electrician and I will be spending and entire year working in Antarctica. That does sound crazy and I guess it kind of is, but this challenge is life changing.

I have been asked a number of times now, what is it that I do in Antarctica? So I thought a great way to actually show you all is to vlog it. So this is the first episode of ANTARCTICA: Vlogs by Tatteredpassport.

As you know I am an Electrician here at Mawson Station Antarctica. Mawson is located in Australia’s Antarctic Territory in Eastern Antarctica at (67, 36S, 62, 52E). Over winter there are only 14 people on station, two electricians, two plumbers, two mechanics, one carpenter, one BOM observer, one BOM Technician, one Field Training Officer, One Doctor, One Comms Operator, One Chef, and one Station Leader. We are some of the most isolated people on the planet right now. This itself brings some very unique challenges you would not experience working any where else. Which over the course of the year, I hope to show you.

This vlog is pretty much my usual day on station. I was on call as Electrician meaning I attend any alarms that come through the paging system, I was also on Power House Observations, which has me check the power house at 0800 and 2000, (8am- 8pm). I am also the Hydroponics Master and was on Hydro Obs this week, so you get to see our hydroponics room, where we are growing some fresh vegetables

I hope you enjoy the vlog and a little bit of a tour and insight of life in Antarctica. If you have any questions please ask, I hope to do an Antarctica Q&A soon.

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One Life, One Search,

Peace Out,

Shane.

Riding In Hagglunds: Antarctica.

I wake early to watch the sunrise over Wilkins Runway. Its 4:30am and around -10c, However it is all worth it. As I watch that sun peak over the horizon, reflecting off millions of ice crystals, I take a moment. A moment to really see where I am, How lucky I am to be here, to be here in Antarctica.

Tattered Passport, Antarctica.

Antarctic Sunrise: Wilkins Runway.

Wilkins Runway is built on approx. 500m of solid Glacial Ice which moves up to 15 meters a year and is the gate way to Australia’s Antarctic Programs Casey Station.

Today we return to Casey after spending a week conducting maintenance at the remote airfield.  The return trip is only 90km but can take up to 4hrs. It is a long, rough ride in one of the coolest vehicles in the World, a Hagglund. 1hr into the trip we reach the edge of the Antarctic Circle.

The very unique sign creates an incredible photo opportunity and the back drop, well that just takes your breath away. Here you get a real sense of how remote you really are, how vast the frozen continent is.

Tattered Passport: Antarctica

One incredible Sign

Tattered Passport: Antarctica

5 Days later at the Antarctic circle.

Back in the Haggs, we start the descent off the plateau, making our way back to Casey. We pass over some blue ice, taking care not to slip or slide on the super slippery blue is Joe expertly navigates the hazard.

You never know what you will see up here, this time we spot an old 44 gallon drum. The drum is an old Way Point that has surfaced, who knows where it has come from.

Descending further down the plateau you feel the temperture rise, as it gets warmer we notice snow and ice melts. Even in this All Terrain Vehicle these need to be negotiated carefully.

We cross a few of these melt streams and begin to hear radio chatter, we are close to home now. We make our wat through Penguin Pass and get our first view of the aptly named “Red Shed” where all the Caseyites live. We “Call In” to Casey Comms and are welcomed back by Tina the Comms Operator.

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One Life, One Search,

Peace Out,

Shane.

Antarctica: Casey Station, Re-Supply 2014

The yearly Casey Re-Supply is the most chaotic and busy time at the Australian Antarctic Program’s Casey Station. We have a week to completely re-stock the station with Fuel, food, parts needed for repairs and to send any scientific research projects back to Australia as well as receiving anything to do with this years projects. It is the only time in the summer season that the crew work 24hrs a day. Everyone is working super hard and doing tasks outside of their usual role on station. I am an electrician and I was driving the big old Mack Truck.

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Survival Training: Antarctica.

The time has come, I am both excited and a little nervous about the next two days. Every expeditioner needs to complete and show their competence in all aspects of survival training. This includes everything from organising your expedition paper work through to plotting your course using maps and compasses.

Tattered Passport, Antarctica

Survival Training: Casey Station

As our training day approaches we are informed by the Meteorology team that the weather is turning bad and a blizzard is possible. We carry on planning our training day and decide as a group to go a head. I must admit I am a little nervous about spending 24hrs out in this weather, but at the same time I am well aware how much of a unique experience this will be. Everyone down there needs to complete survival training, but so far everyone has had perfect weather.

Tattered Passport, Antarctica

Survival Training, Antarctica.

Tattered Passport: Antarctica

Survival Training, Antarctica: Feeling The Chill

We have completed all our paper work, collected all our gear and we are ready to head out. We make our very first call in to Casey Communications, explain our intentions and off we head towards Shirley Island. We need to follow the approved walking route which winds its way through a rocky valley. We have a few marked GPS Way points on our maps, which we use to navigate ourselves through this area. I soon realised that this was going to be a challenge. We constantly refer to our maps and compasses, but it so windy. Every time I remove my map from my jacket it almost blows away.

Tattered Passport, Antarctica

Radioing In

We reach the sea ice and call Casey Communications. To walk on ice we need know how thick it is and the only way to do that is to drill the ice. So we grab our Sea Ice Drill and set it all up. We learn a bit about sea ice, how to tell if it is good ice, how thick it is and how saturated it is. As we finish drilling we are visited by group inquisitive Adelie Penguins. It was incredible, they came right up to us and spent a good 10 minutes just chilling and checking us out, until they get bored and return to their colony.

Tattered Passport, Antarctica.

Adelie Penguins, Shirley Island, Antarctica

As we reach Shirley Island we have another training drill. We set up a survival shelter called a Mega Bivvy. A bivvy is a bag that you can use in a survival situation. They are way to escape from the wind, they are super light and easy to set up even in strong winds. We all jump in the Mega Bivvy and call in to Casey Communications. We watch and listen to the weather getting worse and decide its time to head to our next location, The Wharf. Here we will learn how to use the camp stoves and how to set up our personal bivvy bags and where we’ll be spending the night.

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One Life, One Search,

Peace Out,

Shane.

Hiking Observation Hill: Antarctica.

Its early morning and we learn that we will be stuck in McMurdo for another day, so we decide to hike up to the top of Observation Hill. Ob Hill as the Americans call it is a 45min hike, up a slippery slope from McMurdo Station. I chuck all my camera gear in my bag, chuck on some warm clothes and hit the trail.

We reach the first clearing and I see a plaque, I wander over a get a pretty massive shock. This is the location of the only nuclear power plant to have been operated in Antarctica. I didn’t even know there had been one down there. I learn that it was built in January/ February of 1962 and run until September of 1972, being decommissioned in 1979, producing 1800kW.

Tattered Passport, Antarctica

The only Nuclear Power Plant to have operated in Antarctica

Tattered Passport

The one and only Nt Erebus

We reach the summit of Ob Hill and are treated to a pretty impressive view over McMurdo, Scott Base and Mt Erebus, the second highest volcano and the most active in Antarctica. I took a moment up here to attempt to take it all in. I was standing on top of hill, looking out over this vast expanse of frozen land, I couldn’t believe that I was here, that I was in Antarctica. This is going to be one hell of an adventure.

Tattered Passport

We make it to the top

That night we make the walk over to Scott Base to have a few drinks with our Kiwi friends at the American Night. A bunch of the Americans make the trek over and spend the afternoon mingling with there neighbours.

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Visiting the Kiwi’s

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One Life, One Search,

Peace Out,

Shane.

You Are A Monkey I am A Monkey. Daily Vlog: 20

Daily Vlog: 20

Namche to Ghat.

Tattered Passport, Namche

Saying Farewell to one of my favourite towns in Nepal

We wake early and hit the trails heading down the massive decline from Namche to Ghat. We walk passed a stone building that I watched getting built when we passed through on the way up the mountain only a couple of weeks ago. It was impressive to see how fast the local Nepalese people had built this Tea House, the fact that it was built by hand was amazing. I have been in the building industry for a while now and I have never seen something built so fast. I think that us Australian Trades People need to take a leaf out of the Nepalese book here and pull our heads in. These people had hand built a two story building in a couple of weeks with no power tools and equipment other than hammer and chisel. We have all the equipment under the sun and take 6 or months to build a single story house??? That is with out taking into account that they are at a massive 3500m above sea level.

Tattered Passport, Namche

Hand Built Tea House

 

Tattered Passport

Altitude Kills. A real Warning

I have absolutley loved being up in the Himalayas, being in a remote natural environment is where i feel most at home. Looking out over the mountains and not seeing any big sky scrapers, no pollution, you can see for miles, is just refreshing. However one thing that really annoys me up here is the rubbish. This area see’s a huge amount of trekkers and adventure travellers, which you would think come to this region for the natural environment, you think they would be a nature love, an environmentalist or just want to keep the place beautiful so that there children could visit and it will still be amazing? But for some reason this is not the case. There is rubbish everywhere, trekkers please pick up your rubbish! The entire way up the mountain there are rubbish bins, they are clearly marked and on the paths, so use them. The day that we returned to Gorak Shep from Base Camp we picked up 2 full bags of rubbish in an 2 hour walk, that included the huge hessian bags we used to carry the rubbish. So please I urge you to keep this magical place clean, keep it beautiful for generations to come, keep it natural and breathtaking.

Tattered Passport

The National bird of Nepal, Himalayan Monal

The day had us walking over many suspension bridges, one of which would have to be the highest suspension bridges I have ever crossed. We were lucky enough to see a Himalayan Monal the national bird of Nepal, it was so beautiful and just peacefully sitting high in the trees. We had a giggle in Phakding a small village that had a Reggae Bar, something that is vey popular in Nepal. The sign out the

Tattered Passport, Phakding,

“Let’s Get Together and Fill Alright”

front said “Let’s get together and fill alright” Now I am a fan of Bob Marley and “One Love” is a great song, but I don’t think this is quite correct? however I can’t say much about mixing up words in foreign songs. The traditional nepalese folk song “Resamm Phiriry” or as most trekkers know it as “The Trekking Song”, which I am certain we all butchered that song, we were saying “You are a monkey, I am a monkey Resamm Phiriry” but somehow I don’t believe that is correct? But the Nepalese are just way to nice to correct us even when we asked them to. We finished off the day with a little surprise to our incredible Sherpa Guides by serving them all dinner, they loved it and it was a bunch of fun, a nice little way to say thank you for looking after us for the last 18 days.

 

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Have you trekked Nepal? Have you heard the Trekking Song?

I will be posting a “Special Episode” very soon, special footage from the Party in Ghat. It has some great and some not so great dancing as well as a bunch of Traditional Nepalese songs. It was such a great night and a great way to finish off our trek.

Thank You.

One Life, One Search,

Peace Out,

Shane

Getting lost to find myself, My Journey.

My Journey to find myself.

Why do you need to get lost to find yourself?

I knew deep down that I was lost, I knew deep down that I needed to do something, that I needed to find myself. Did I? I have no idea but it was a great time.

I left Australia on the 4th of July 2012 and returned on the 6th of January 2013. What happened in that 6 months? Well if you follow my blog you will find out, but saying that a lot happened, a real lot. I realised that life is not about making money, it’s not about building a career and it’s not about having the best things. So what’s it all about then? Well I now have no idea but at the same time I have more of an idea then before I left.

I learnt so many lessons whilst travelling and not one of them was in a class. These were life lessons and some you do not even know you have learnt until months down the path. The people that have taught me these things do not know that they are teachers, they do not know that they have taught me a lesson that will stay with me forever and that I will hopefully pass onto my kids one day. These people were just on the same journey that I was. We just happened to meet and in a brief encounter had this thing, I learnt so much about myself and about my wife, who I have fallen in love with all over again. I learnt things about myself that I did not like and worked on changing them. One major life lesson that I learnt is an understanding and respect for everyone. People are different to you, they have different ways of doing things, they have different beliefs and different attitudes towards life. This is not wrong, it’s beautiful and it makes us all unique and interesting. This makes travel exciting and constantly lours me back to explore another country to learn more great life lessons.

Travel taught me how to be calm in stressful and strange situations and that human beings are usually pretty kind and generous. I know now that I was not always very calm and quite often I did loose my composure but now looking back on those situations realise that doing so made the situation worse and certainly did not help.

I learnt that we as a race really need to pick up our act and start protecting our planet. I saw firsthand the huge impact that we are having on our environment and it physically made me sick. I think back to the huge pollution that I witnessed in Beijing. You could taste the pollution and it gave me a cough that stayed with me throughout Japan and back into Australia. I discovered a new found interest in history. History was never an interest of mine but after visiting some amazing historical sites that date back thousands of years I now seek out historical sites.

I thought I knew what it I was all about before I left. I learnt that I knew squat about pretty much everything and now feel more lost but so much stronger. I look forward to my next lesson.

https://www.facebook.com/Mykombiandi

Whats in a Song, A Journey with Music:

I love music, like many others. Throughout my life music has always been a huge part of my life. It has been there when my dad passed away, it was there when I fell in love, it was there when I got married and it was all over the place on my recent backpacking adventure around the world. Since being back in the Land of Oz whenever I hear one of the songs from my adventure it takes me back to that amazing moment, it takes me back to that place where I had not care in the world, it takes me back to the spot where I was happy and carefree as well as where it was a sombre moment.

The Songs of my adventure that return time and time again to help me get through a tough time, just so I know when I pull through I can always look forward to my next adventure. These songs inspire me to create new amazing adventures be it only a weekend away or a new complete change of lifestyle choices.

A few of these little songs that graced my journey and a short story about them:

Frère Jacques: We were sailing in a Fellucca on the amazing Nile in Aswan, Egypt. These two local boys paddled up to us in there dugout canoe and started singing to us.

Niggers in Paris: Now excuse my language there. This song rocked throughout my 46 day Contiki tour from Paris to Amsterdam. I still get pumped whenever I hear this song. I once did “The Worm” on a table in a Paris nightclub and once on a dance floor in Paros, in the Greek Islands to this song.

Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen): This song was played in our couch after leaving Gallipoli. Gallipoli was a sombre moment and this song was a beautiful way to appreciate the moment. I always play this song now when I need to put things back into perspective.

Rob Longstaff’s Boogaloo: I met Rob whilst he was playing at one of the great open air markets in Berlin. I could hear an Aussie’s voice singing and playing an acoustic set. I wondered over to him and introduced myself. I brought a CD of him right then and later a record off iTunes. We were lucky enough to even have a song dedicated to us, The Beds are Burning, Midnight oil in an acoustic set.

Dislocated: Well anything to do with this Swedish Hardcore Band. I met one of the band’s members in a backpackers in Lithuania. A group of us stayed up all night, drinking Vodka, smoking shisha, listening to music from all over the world, talking about everyones crazing adventures. Since Patrik made it back to Sweden, the band have now released an EP called “DOWN”. I have been listening to it and remembering that great night with:          1 aussie, 1 Swed, 2 Americans, 2 Canadians, 1 Lithuanian, and 1 Italian, 2ltr 7.8% alcohol beer and Lithuanian Vodka.

Music was a huge part of my backpacking journey, it is a huge a part of journey through life and will always be there for me.

Mykombiandi head to Envirofest 2013.

Envirofest 2013 was held in one of the most beautiful places in Perth, Whiteman Park. Presented in conjunction with the Men of the Trees, Envirofest showcased a range of environmental concepts, issues and products. Entry was free and there was something for everyone including the kiddies with Free Face painting.

I absolutely loved walking around the festival checking out all the latest in sustainable options. The push towards our way of life is getting stronger, now that the options are getting more viable and easier to access information about how to make the better choices for our environment. The great number of stalls and the large range of products at the festival meant that anyone that made the trip out to Whiteman Park could leave with some great information.

I had a great chat with a lady from the Conservation Council of WA about renewable energy and possible options for WA. Check out their website for more info on what they are about. http://ccwa.org.au/.  I also enjoyed a very tasty muffin from Catering Green. All their muffins are made with free range eggs. I visited the Conservation Volunteers stall you can visit their website for information about becoming a volunteer here http://www.conservationvolunteers.com.au.

As I said earlier on in the blog there was something for everyone and there was. I was lucky enough to meet the owner of Harris Organic Wines, Deb. Harris Organic wines is a small family business run by Duncan and Deborah Harris and is “Australian Certified Organic”. At Harris Organic Wines, they sell only at the cellar door and through the online wine shop. Kristy and I have been invited out to their winery for some tasting. I really look forward to catching up with Deb again and taking home some of their great tasting wines. Check out their website and here: http://www.harrisorganicwine.com.au/.

Throughout the day there were talks about the products on display, how to demos and plenty of people to talk about their great environmentally friendly options. I learnt how to run a worm farm, how to grow your own organic vegetables on your window sill and how important recycling is to our growing WA.

Check out the Envirofest 2013 website here for any information about the festival or any of the great exhibitors: http://www.whitemanpark.com.au/events/envirofest2012_copy1.aspx