Yeppoon sparky encourages tradies to work in Antarctica
If you are feeling stale in your career and are ready for the next challenge, Yeppoon electrician Aaron Munro urges you to follow in his footsteps by applying to work in Antarctica.
After years working in the coal industry, Mr Munro was looking to change things up and step outside of the comfort zone, so he took the plunge and applied for the Australian Antarctic Program.
"I was looking for a change, having worked in various industrial environments and I found that the skills that I had picked up fit quite well with what the Australian Antarctic Division was looking for," Mr Munro said.
"The challenge and uniqueness of the environment interested me. I was in a position personally to make the trip so I filled out the application.
"When I got to the question in the application where it asked for how long I was willing to go down for (just summer or summer and winter) I figured if I was going to do it I was going to do it right so I signed up for the summer and winter.
"From then on I had a goal and I went for it."
Australia maintains three year-round research stations, Casey, Davis and Mawson and one on sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island.
Each station is like a small town with diverse and dedicated workforce.
There's station leaders, tradespeople, scientists, doctors, chefs and communications experts and a team of people supporting their shipping and aviation activities.
The population at each station ranges between 40 and 100 expeditioners over summer, and 15 to 20 over the winter months.
The Australian Antarctic Program uses long-range aircraft to fly people and equipment between Hobart and Wilkins Aerodrome, near Casey research station - a 3.5 kilometre glacial runway which operates over the summer months.
Each season more than 500 expeditioners travel south with the Australian Antarctic Program.
Recruitment is underway for the Australian Antarctic Program 2021-22 season with up to 180 tradesmen and women needed to keep things ticking over.
Based at Davis Station since November 2019, Mr Munro has experienced a steep learning curve working as one of the station's electricians, keeping busy (and trying to keep warm) before his expected return home in late March 2021.
"My role involves installing/upgrading, servicing and maintaining all of the electrical systems on station," Mr Munro said.
"Everything from the alternators on the generators to the heating, building ventilation, lights and the coffee machine.
"Coming from the coal industry in Queensland I have had to learn about a lot of more varied electrical devices and surprisingly quite a bit about refrigeration."
One of the most important skills he had to learn was how to keep a 1980s diesel power generation system producing electricity.
He said the best part about the living and working in Antarctica was the environment.
"The cold and the isolation put a spin on everything, the scenery, the work, what you do for fun and the wild life," he said.
"It creates new challenges in everyday tasks at the same time as exposing you to a world that few people get to experience.
"Experiencing a winter on the Antarctic continent is something I will never forget."
The challenge of working in Antarctica didn't just affect Mr Munro.
"Your whole family is affected, some more than others and they need to be able to deal with it," he said.
"This season was a standout. It has been especially difficult for some, both in Antarctica and back in Australia."
Not even Antarctica was spared from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced everyone on station to stay for an additional summer.
"We have been unable to do very little to help our families though the tough time that the world has gone though," he said.
"We have been forced by our isolation to watch from the outside as the home that we will return to changes.
"We all do what we can to help our families and each other and look forward to getting home and making up for lost time."
To apply for the Australian Antarctic Program visit here.
The deadline for applications is January 21, 2021.