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STORIES FROM THE FIELD

by Rebecca Ballard – Geology student, Deakin University
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Day Six – Dunedin to Queenstown – New Zealand

I knew something was wrong as soon as I opened my eyes! I couldn’t move! I was busting to go to the loo and my back had completely seized up in the JUCY van! I was packed into my bed with no way of manoeuvring out to the bathroom. I panicked! I called out to Long-Suffering Mentor who was snuggled up and asleep in her upstairs tomb (the double bed up over the drivers seat is so small it looks like a coffin!) but because she was packed in like a sardine she couldn’t hear my desperate cries! After some shouting […]

Day Five – Post Conference Trip – New Zealand

Having woken early in our lovely little room, I noticed when bending down that my back was twinging a bit. I made myself promise I would take it a bit easier today as I didn’t want any nasty incidences or surprises. Making our way downstairs we enjoyed a simple continental breakfast with lots of cups of tea, and quickly packed up the JUCY van in preparation for what Ewan promised would  be an action packed and very full-on day. The scenery was so picturesque as we drove out to Hakataramea Valley to a huge quarry. The quarry was Late Oligocene […]

Day Four – Post Conference Trip – New Zealand

Being the totally organised travellers that we are, my LS Mentor set an alarm for 6.30am allowing us a leisurely time for showers and breakfast before trotting across the road to the bus for the airport, having checked out with minimal hassle. Unfortunately LS Mentor’s clock was still on Victorian time, so I woke up thinking there is way too much light coming through my window, grabbed my watch and immediately began screaming “we’re late” and rushing around like a mad woman. We eventually made it out of the hotel and across the road – dragged all our luggage onto […]

Day Three – Queenstown, New Zealand

This mountain changes every day! The different light and sunshine makes it alive!! Today was a full day of CAVEPS – bird, mesozoic and dinosaurs, macropods, and New Zealand cenozoic. Lots and lots of dinosaurs and crocodiles. The highlight of the day though, was the Plenary speaker – Senior Professor Jingmai O’Connor spoke about the rise of birds. Jingmai is the coolest Palaeontologist I have ever met! She’s dynamite in a small package, covered in tattoos of birds and dinosaurs! She spoke with such passion and intellect, I was so impressed with her presentation. I actually met her afterwards in […]

Day Two – Queenstown, New Zealand

Having had a long and restful sleep, we clambered up the inclines of Queenstown, New Zealand towards the Skyline Gondola, to get to our conference location high up on a mountain overlooking the beautiful town and lakes. Long-Suffering Mentor (who is afraid of heights) managed to hide her conniptions with white knuckles and distracted chatter, as we ascended up the mountain in a small gondola. The views were incredible. Breathtaking! The snow capped crags of mountain ranges blending in with mountains that look like green velvet. Sometimes it just looks fake – like a painting! The geology of the South […]

Day One – Queenstown, New Zealand

It was with much excitement that My Long-Suffering Mentor suggested we attend CAVEPS 2017 conference – Australian Vertebrate Evolution, Palaeonotology and Systematics to those in the know! Why? Because it’s about dinosaurs!!!! And its in Queenstown, New Zealand…….so of course I said yes! Day One began at the ungodly hour of 2am – the unfortunate situation of living a few hours away from the nearest international airport, but also a lesson in not allowing My Long-Suffering Mentor to book the cheap flights that leave at 6.15am. Despite the hour we were eager and excited to make the check-in time and […]

DAY TEN – YOUNG DRILLING PROGRAM

Holy Moly! It was a bit hard getting up this morning! The bones aching and the muscles complaining – not to mention the bladder with it’s private problems and the…..well……I hate getting old and being so unfit! Plus it’s cold…..and I’m tired…..(*enter whiney voice!*)…… But once we got to the drilling site all the whininess evaporated and I remembered that I am HAVING THE BEST TIME! We drilled two holes and by the end I was able to identify serpentinite confidently. And thankfully there was no asbestos, although we did still wear masks just in case. Today’s drill site was […]

DAY NINE – YOUNG DRILLING PROGRAM

OH GOD I AM SO TIRED!……. But I am having so much fun! Today upon arriving at the drill site after having to stop for Cranberry Juice and Ural (don’t ask – it happens to me in the field all the time!), I immediately located a potential free-pee tree…..but as I got closer it kind of lost points in the rating……you can see why! Yeah…..I think that’s a dead cat – but it looks like it kinda just fell out of the tree and got stuck! It had me entranced for a while…..and then I had to choose another free-pee […]

DAY EIGHT – YOUNG DRILLING PROGRAM

The countryside is just stunning…… I think I’m falling in love with outback NSW. The colours change with the sunrise, the granites cast purple glows and the sky is always changing. But today we had rolling mists, fog in the valleys…..and it was cold! Crisp and cold! Gawd….it’s just beautiful! We set up the drilling rig as the sun rose over the mists. The cows once again graced us with their presence – I swear the pressure of having them watch us constantly, I feel the need to break into a song and dance repeatedly. If I was a paranoid […]

DAY SEVEN – YOUNG DRILLING PROGRAM

Today was…….frustrating……! Finally we were all set to drill. 7am – bright eyed and bushy tailed, we started out to the first drilling site – hole 1 of 10 holes, 30 metre depth per hole. So overall, the program plans to drill 300 metres. I was so eager and looking forward to learning how to do drill logs and describe the geology of drill samples. It was freezing when we arrived at the first drill site – the wind chill factor was enough to make my nose feel as though it belonged to someone else! The cows immediately began eating […]