Rachael Robertson has returned to Australia after 12 months in the Antarctic, where she successfully led the 58th Australian National Antarctic Research Expedition to Davis Station. She is only the second female to ever lead a team at the Station.
This leadership role is truly a very unique experience. A year of total isolation, with 18 people Rachael hardly knew, meant this was no ordinary leadership role. Antarctica in winter is totally inaccessible which means once the last ship leaves at the end of February, no one can leave the station under any circumstances (not even if you are dying) until the ship returns in November.
As Station Leader Rachael was responsible for all aspects of life on Station, from the safety and welfare of over 80 expeditioners in Summer, to the delivery of the Australian Government’s $10m science program. In any circumstance, this would be a very tough roll, however for a female in a very male dominated environment, this certainly added to Rachael’s challenge!
Before her departure, Rachael underwent three months training in Hobart before setting sail for the three week voyage through the Southern Ocean to Davis Station. Extreme leadership is how Rachael describes her time in Antarctica: completely locked down for 9 months with no ability to send for help, get off-station or get away from each other!