“It’s a people job for me”: new Station Leader bound for Davis 10 February 2021

Australian Antarctic Division

This season’s Station Leader for Davis research station is Esther Rodewald.

Davis has been on Esther’s radar for a while – she had been due to go for her first Australian Antarctic Division posting and a change saw her bound for Macquarie Island instead. She has also lead a team at Mawson.

Ahead of her third stint as Station Leader, she said part of the excitement was that “no two years are ever the same, even if you’re going to the same place.”

“It’s a people job for me,” Esther said.

“If everybody is down there to do their job and they’re all perfectly competent at doing their job, then for me it’s a lot more pastoral care.”

“The emphasis is a lot more on the community. Summer’s busier, for station activities and for health and safety and all that kind of stuff, but over winter it’s a lot more of getting people through and getting the community through.”

Esther has had anything but a standard lead-up to her Antarctic career – with 25 years in film and television production.

She said her journey as Station Leader had so far been an amazing experience.

“Starting with Macquarie Island, which is sub-Antarctic but has the most incredible wildlife,” she said.

“You feel like you’re living in a David Attenborough documentary every day so it was just an extraordinary introduction. Antarctica’s different, it’s so much about the weather and the environment… and I’m also interested to see how different Davis is to Mawson.”

As with other expeditioners in this pandemic year, Esther has had a different type of build-up to the season, spending several months in lockdown in her home town of Melbourne.

“In fact I was looking forward at one stage to a much better social life in Davis!” she said.

Now, she’s looking forward to life on Davis, all year round.

“Just the opportunity to get out into the field and be outside is so extraordinary,” Esther said.

“Davis is dark for six weeks so that’ll be a new one for me.”

“And the mid-winter swim… yes, calling it a swim’s probably optimistic because it’s so quick. It’s much more of a dip. It’s a nice bonding thing.”

Esther and her team of expeditioners will set sail for Davis on the MPV Everest later this week.

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