Cold call leads to Antarctica
PAUL Farrow has gamely gone where few carpenters have gone before.
In late 2010, the Mudjimba chippy swapped his beach life for an ice life, travelling to Antarctica to work at the government-funded Australian Antarctic Division's Davis Station.
The seven-month trip left Mr Farrow, who emigrated to Australia from England in 1998 and loves having a surf on his mini-Mal, ga-ga over Antarctica.
"It was an amazing experience. It's hard to explain," he said yesterday.
"It's like nowhere else on the planet. Just absolutely unique. It's pristine."
Keen for a new adventure, the well-travelled 39-year-old answered an advertisement looking for people to work at the world's southernmost continent.
After a "quite intense" two-day selection process in Brisbane and further training in Hobart, he was employed as a carpenter at the station over the 2010-11 summer.
Davis is Australia's busiest scientific research station and our most southerly Antarctic outpost, situated about 4200km from Perth.
Now back on the Sunshine Coast after enduring minus 25-degree temperatures and 150kmh winds, Mr Farrow talked effusively about the rare opportunity that is once again being offered to others through a national recruitment campaign.
He said people who would struggle to adapt to tight-knit "community living" need not apply, labelling the experience "extreme Big Brother". At any given time, between 65 and 90 people live at the station.
"They're going to want people who are going to get along…people who are not going to rock the boat," he said. "It's really community based. So it's quite strange, quite unique.
"Some people loved it, some people not so much.
"I really did love the community spirit.
"I've made friends down there that will be friends for life."
Mr Farrow's love for the continent is so strong that he wants to return there for a 12-month stint in the future.
He recalled how he was buffeted by gale-force winds during his survival training, barely able to see his hand in front of his face.
However, it was the "eerie" silence that really resonated with him.
"I remember walking down a frozen estuary...it was about minus 10 or 12 (degrees) and there was not a breath of wind - just silence. I could hear my heart beat."
It seems great adventures, new friendships and breathtaking scenery are not the only positives served up in this ice-bound wonderland.
"Home brew is really big at the station. Everyone chips in to make home brew," he said.