I have been asked to explain what a typical day is like here at Davis. So here is a run down of goes on throughout a typical working day.
We have a few early risers on station every day. Our Bureau of Meteorology (Met) forecasters are up at 6am to prepare the morning weather report and the Met observers release their first weather balloon of the day not long after at 6.15am. The tradies will be getting up to get ready and have breakfast before their 7am start. They will have a list of jobs for them to do for the day, which can include work on the summer construction projects or various maintenance and improvement jobs in many of the buildings around station. The chefs also start early in the kitchen, preparing meals for the next few days. The coms operators start at 7am to monitor any radio traffic, particularly if there are people who are away from station and out in the field. The scientists start work around 8-9am depending on what we have planned for the day.
At 10am the kitchen serves up a hot snack for smoko (morning tea), which is well attended by everyone. The sausage rolls are by far the most popular snack on the menu but can also include things like savoury scrolls, pizza, roast meat rolls, and quiche.
After a few more hours of work the kitchen serves us a hot lunch at 12.30pm. Because the majority of people on station work outdoors it is important to ensure that everyone is well fed so they can deal with working in the cold. As we have been reminded many times, your first layer of warmth is a good hot meal. We do have some lettuce, tomatoes, and other fresh veggies that are produced by the station hydroponics set up to supplement the cooked food and are very nice when they are available. After lunch everyone goes back to work again for the afternoon. At 4pm the Met forecasters prepare their afternoon weather update and the Met observers do a weather observation. The tradies knock off work at around 4.30pm and the scientists usually finish up somewhere between 5 and 6pm. The doctor’s office is open from 4.30pm until around 6pm for anyone who may need to have anything attended to.
Dinner is served in the mess at 6pm. Friday nights is take away night, where we are treated to take away favourites such as Chinese, Indian, and fish and chips. Saturday night the chefs put in a lot of effort to serve us a more fancy dinner, with every second Saturday night a formal dinner where we put on something nice and the mess is set up like a restaurant. Sunday night is roast night and is always the favourite meal of the week. Other nights we may have themes such as Italian or Moroccan food. Regardless, the food is always exceptionally good. We’ve had a few birthdays here and everyone always gets a specially made cake and an enthusiastic rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ sung to them.
After dinner most people retire to their rooms or up into the lounge and bar to relax for the evening. Games of pool, ping pong and darts are always a feature of the evening entertainment, while some people schedule movies and TV shows to be shown in the cinema. We also have weekly French lessons on a Monday night (run by one of our chefs), knitting group on Wednesday, regularly scheduled evening pilates sessions, weekend spa parties, band practices and walks to keep people occupied.
There are still a few people working after dinner. If people are out in the field then the coms operators have a nightly ‘scheds’ at 7pm, where they contact the field parties and obtain information such as their location for the night, the health of the party, the local weather at their site, and the condition of any vehicles they may have taken with them. They also give updated weather forecasts and any other important information that may be required or requested. The coms operators remain at work later in the evening if there are other people off station who require radio contact. Once everyone is back for the evening (excluding field parties) they pass the radio onto the Station Leader in case any out of hours contact is required. The Met observers release their evening weather balloon at around 6.15pm and do further weather observations at 7 and 10pm.
The tradies work Monday to Friday, with a half day on Saturday (finishing at lunch time) and the coms operators, Met forecasters and Met observers work on a roster over seven days a week. The scientists work whenever it is necessary, particularly those who need to go out into the field as the weather is the biggest decider for them. The doctor is always on call, as can be expected. We have others on station, such as our Field Training Officers (FTOs), Aircraft Ground Support Officers (AGSOs) and pilots who work a varied roster depending on the jobs they need to do.