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Army February 17, 2011
AFTER a nine-day jour-
ney on the Australian
Antarctic Division's ice-
breaker ship, the Aurora
Australis, Lt-Col Dave Buller
took command at Australia's busi-
est Antarctic station, Casey.
In a year marking the cente-
nary of the pioneering 1911-1914
Australasian Antarctic Expedition
led by Sir Douglas Mawson, Lt-Col
Buller started this unique 12-month
deployment with the Australian
The voyage on the Australis
introduced Lt-Col Buller to the
unique and surreal environment of
the Antarctic region. As he ventured
further south, the cooler climate
and icebergs in the distance added
to the extraordinary experience.
"The ship had to start plough-
ing through the ice floes when we
passed 60 degrees south, with an
increasing presence of penguins
and seals watching us as we passed
by," he said.
"The overriding feeling upon
arrival at Casey was that I was very
privileged and humbled to be in
such an awe-inspiring and unfet-
tered environment, where I was
constantly surrounded by spectacu-
lar views and inquisitive wildlife."
On loan to the Antarctic
Division to lead Casey, Lt-Col
Buller is acting in a non-military
His understanding of logistics,
amphibious operations and the
diversity of Army experience were
crucial factors in securing the posi-
tion from a shortlist of military and
Living and working in cold and
windy conditions with a great deal
of snow and ice as well as long
periods of darkness in winter and
light in summer are some of the
hardships Lt-Col Buller will deal
with in his 12-month tenure.
His responsibilities include the
day-to-day running of the station
and making sure its community's
needs are managed, planning the
air, sea and land-based projects
out of Casey and ensuring station
resources can support the activities.
Lt-Col Buller is also overseeing
the upgrade, replacement and fixing
of key station services, including
everything from accommodation,
powerhouse, waste processing facil-
ities and runway maintenance.
"To achieve what is required,
I need current knowledge of the
entire Casey operating area, so I
get out a fair bit to understand the
environmental factors that must be
considered during decision making
and planning of station projects,"
It's not all work for the team
at Casey -- there is a unique social
and recreational aspect to the post-
ing that involves glacier and ice-
berg tours (via inflatable boat),
land-based trips to field huts using
Hagglunds (tracked snow vehicles),
quad bikes and skis.
Even the simple tasks of taking
out the trash, kitchen duties and
general cleaning are done by every-
one at the station, regardless of rank
The Australian Antarctic
Division also has more than 100
scientists who work at Casey,
Davis, Mawson and Macquarie
Island stations on research projects.
The Antarctic summer is the
busiest period for station person-
nel, with a number of scientific
projects, such as studies on human
impacts on Antarctic environments,
monitoring of wildlife and glacial
behaviours being conducted in and
around bases such as Casey.
Lt-Col Buller has previously
served in Bougainville, East Timor,
Solomon Islands and Afghanistan
and said he expected the conditions
over the next 12 months to be his
toughest challenge yet.
He said despite the hardships,
the posting would include a novelty
"I'm looking forward to grow-
ing a full beard to keep me warm
over winter -- something I could
never do in the mainstream Army."
An Army officer is taking on a unique one-
year posting in one of the least hospitable
places on earth, Cpl Rob Serafin reports.
Ski season: The
Dave Buller (left)
for 12 months.
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