Fly in, fly out of... ANTARCTICA: The tradies leaving the mining industry for a chance to work at the coldest, driest, windiest place on earth where it gets to minus 40 degrees Celsius in winter

  • Tradies outnumber climate scientists at Australia's three permanent base stations on the Antarctic continent
  • Of the 469 expeditions stationed at the coldest place on Earth 370 of them, or 79 per cent, work in a trade 
  • Plumber Brendan Hopkins, 37, has swapped teaching apprentices for 24-hour summer daylight and the cold
  • Temperatures on the Australian Antarctic bases range from minus 40C in winter to 10C at height of summer 

Tradies are leaving the mining industry for the chance to work in the coldest, driest and windiest place on Earth - Antarctica.

This is where temperatures on an Australian base station can plummet below minus 40 degrees Celsius in winter, as the sun refuses to rise.

Eight out of 10 members expeditioners at Antarctica are tradies, with plumbers, electricians, diesel mechanics and boilermakers outnumbering scientists.

Plumber Brendan Hopkins will be spending a whole year at the Casey base station, one of three Australian outposts on the Antarctic continent.

Melbourne plumber Brendan Hopkins has swapped teaching apprentices at TAFE for a year in Antarctica as a tradie

At the Casey base station in Antarctica, scientists and tradies experience 24-hour sunlight during summer

The TAFE teacher has swapped teaching apprentices in Melbourne for summer temperatures of minus 10C, roughly the temperature of the ski fields in New South Wales and Victoria during winter.

The 37-year-old tradie, who has previously worked in commercial construction, said the chance to get three meals a day and not have to pay rent was much better than anything the mining industry had to offer.

'If you're looking at raw numbers, this mightn't be as good as mining however you're able to put some dollars in the bank,' he told Daily Mail Australia on Monday from his room on the Antarctic base.

'You're not paying for anything while you're down here.'

Australia's Casey base at Antarctica is a long way from anywhere but it's the place to form lifelong friendships

There's also the chance to work alongside some of the world's best climate scientists, see spectacular scenery every day and experience the occasional blizzard.

'Down here, it's not just a job, it really is much bigger,' Mr Hopkins said.

'It's definitely a great way to develop some friendships with people you just never would have thought - it's not uncommon to be sitting across the table from a PhD candidate and research scientist and that just doesn't happen almost anywhere else in Australia.

'It's all gorgeous. Even miserable days can look brilliant.'

Plumber Brendan Hopkins (pictured) also works as an engineering services supervisor at the Casey base station

Temperatures at the Casey base station in Antarctica can rise above 10 degrees Celsius in summer 

Australia runs three permanent base stations on the Antarctic continent.

Of the 469 expeditioners involved in the Australian Antarctic Program 370 of them, or 79 per cent, are tradies with scientists making up the rest.

The Australian Antarctic Division is looking for tradies to work with the world's leading climate scientists.

Electricians, plumbers and boilermakers are being asked to apply for a chance to be based at Antarctica in 2017 and 2018, as part of the Jobs in Antarctica program.

Tradies have until January 27, Hobart time, to apply for the adventure of a lifetime. 

Mr Hopkins is now on his fourth tour of duty to Antarctica since 2007, and has been stationed at the Casey and Davis bases, both near the coast, as a plumber in charge of the water supply, maintenance and engineering services.


The average annual temperature ranges from about −10°C on the Antarctic coast to −60°C at the highest parts of the inland areas.

Near the coast, the temperature can rise above 10°C in summer and fall to below −40°C in winter. 

At the elevated areas inland, it can rise to about −30°C in summer but fall below −80°C in winter. 

The lowest temperature yet recorded on the Earth's surface was −89.2°C at Vostok station on July 21, 1983.

Source: Australian Antarctic Division, federal Department of Environment and Energy 

'It's definitely for someone who is looking for something outside the norm,' he said.

'There's icebergs, there's penguins, there's birds, there's seals, there's all sorts of beautiful views.'

The plumber, who has experienced minus 39C temperatures, prefers the 24-hour darkness of winter to the constant daylight of summer.

'I cope quite well with the 24-hour darkness in the winter period,' he said.

'It's the summer period that can be troublesome to me so I am currently sitting in my bedroom.

'I have my windows boarded up and the curtains drawn because when I come back to my room after dinner I don't want sunlight coming in through the window. I try and keep my body clock as normal as I can.'

Brendan Hopkins (pictured) takes stock of supplies at the base station during his fourth tour of Antarctica since 2007






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