From the desert to Davis: Karen Pye takes on a new remote challenge in Antarctica 10 January 2023

Australian Antarctic Division

This year’s Davis research station leader is Karen Pye.

Affectionately known as the ‘Riviera of the South’, Davis is a world-away from Karen’s stomping ground in outback Western Australia.

“I’ve never been south before so for me this is the first time, so there’s a lot of excitement and I think some apprehension,” Karen said.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing my first iceberg, the wildlife, the vastness, and I think it will be really interesting to experience the cold weather.”

Karen began her working life as a geologist flying across remote Western Australia.

“Following that I had a roughly 20-year career with the WA state government in a huge range of roles from industrial relations, organisational change, native title, strategy and planning,” she said.

“There’s absolutely some parallels between working as a remote geologist in Western Australia, albeit it’s extremely hot in WA, and there’s flies and mosquitos. It’s about working together to deliver a good outcome, sometimes in really difficult conditions.”

Away from work, Karen is a passionate wildlife rescuer.

“In Western Australia I specifically focus on long-necked turtles – our rescues range from the heartbreaking to the heart-warming and its very rewarding to be able to release a rehabilitated turtle back to the wild.”

“Becoming a station leader brings together so many things for me. An enduring interest in Antarctica. A background in earth science, a passion for wildlife rescue and rehabilitation, conservation, and a love of wild places.”

Her camera gear has already been packed to snap the neighbouring seals, penguins and seabirds at Davis.

But there will be a few hobbies that will need to wait until she returns to Australia in a year’s time.

“I’m absolutely going to miss my family and friends, but recently I took up learning to fly. The aviation bug is highly addictive. So my first plan on return to Australia is to book my next flying lesson,” she said.

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