{{ propApi.closeIcon }}
Our industry
Our industry $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Economic research and forecasting Economics Housing outlook Tailored market research Economic reports and data Inspiring Australia's building professionals HOUSING The only place to get your industry news Media releases Member alerts Submissions See all
Business support
Business support $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Become an apprentice host Hire an apprentice Why host a HIA apprentice? Apprentice partner program Builder and manufacturer program Industry insurance Construction legal expenses insurance Construction works insurance Home warranty insurance Tradies and tool insurance Planning and safety services Building and planning services How can HIA Safety help you? Independent site inspections Solutions for your business Contracts Online HIA Tradepass HIA SafeScan HR Docs Trusted legal support Legal advice and guidance Professional services Industrial relations
Resources & advice
Resources & advice $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Building it right Building codes Australian standards Getting it right on site See all Building materials and products Concrete, bricks and walls Getting products approved Use the right products for the job See all Managing your business Dealing with contracts Handling disputes Managing your employees See all Managing your safety Falls from heights Safety rules Working with silica See all Building your business Growing your business Maintaining your business See all Other subjects COVID-19 Getting approval to build Sustainable homes
Careers & learning
Careers & learning $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
A rewarding career Become an apprentice Apprenticeships on offer Hear what our apprentices say Advice for parents and guardians Study with us Find a course Get your builder's licence Learn with HIA
HIA community
HIA community $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Join HIA Sign me up How do I become a member? What's in it for me? Get involved Become an award judge Join a committee Partner with us Get to know us Our members Our people Our partners Mates rates What we do Mental health program Charitable Foundation GreenSmart
Awards & events
Awards & events $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Awards Australian Housing Awards Awards program National Conference Industry networking Events
HIA products
HIA products $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Shop @ HIA Digital Australian Standards Contracts Online Shipping and delivery Purchasing terms & conditions Products Building codes and standards Hard copy contracts Guides and manuals Safety and signage See all
About Contact Newsroom
$vuetify.icons.faTimes
$vuetify.icons.faMapMarker Set my location Use the field below to update your location
Address
Change location
{{propApi.title}}
{{propApi.text}} {{region}} Change location
{{propApi.title}}
{{propApi.successMessage}} {{region}} Change location

$vuetify.icons.faPhone1300 650 620

Antarctic adventure

An adventurous plumber from Tasmania embarked on the job opportunity of a lifetime, but despite his new and icy work location, he has managed to keep up his industry learning thanks to HIA.
{{ tag.label }} {{ tag.label }} $vuetify.icons.faTimes

Amongst the enduring white landscape of Antarctica sits the surprising snow-free oasis of the Vestfold Hills. On the edge is Davis Station, the Australian Antarctic Division research base that specialises in studying climate and environmental change, and for now it is also home for Tasmanian plumber Ben Harrison.

Growing up surrounded by the rolling green mountains of Tasmania, Ben was exposed to the possibility of working in Antarctica more so than most mainland Australians would have been.

‘It’s always seemed like an amazing, extreme place to venture to,’ he says. ‘Because of [the extremity], it’s been in the back of my mind as a possibility since I started down the path in plumbing.’

So in late 2019, Ben and around 70 other expeditioners decided to put the ‘ice’ in isolation and depart Hobart for the cold desert of Antarctica.

When Ben arrived, he began his new role as a plumber/gasfitter with the Australian Antarctic Division for the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment. But given the hostile nature of his new workplace, he was also tasked with a few extra duties.

‘As we are all also Antarctic Expeditioners down here, I have the opportunity to assist in some of the ongoing scientific projects such as sea ice drilling and measurement, penguin camera maintenance or seal surveys,’ Ben explains. ‘We also have other community roles, so for example, I am additionally one of the deputy fire chiefs and lay surgical assistant.’

Kate Veteri

Publications officer

While life can be busy on this desolate continent for a plumber/gasfitter/expeditioner/amateur penguin photographer, there are times, even weeks, where the workers can indulge in some down time.

However, for Ben that turned into professional development with HIA. Interested in completing his Certificate IV in Building and Construction (Building), Ben was pleased to discover the course was available to take online through HIA – meaning he could make a start while miles away from home.

‘I’ve had friends who have done training through HIA and recommended it,’ he says. ‘I’ve also found while working in the building industry that HIA has a very good reputation.’

The COVID-19 pandemic threw major curve balls to contend with to just about every industry in 2020, sending businesses scrambling for ways to continue offering their services in a safe manner for customers and employees. Video calls replaced office meetings, events went virtual and online training became the norm for face-to-face classes.

HIA provides a range of online courses for industry, but many more programs were adapted for virtual learning throughout the year. Social distancing restrictions and isolation created a surge of interest in HIA’s online training offerings, though Marina Tyrell, HIA’s Customer Service Co-ordinator in Tasmania, says Ben’s enquiry was more than a little unexpected.

‘Ben originally contacted our office directly [from Antarctica],’ she says. ‘Our receptionist was extremely excited to tell me where he was phoning from!’

Despite the remoteness of his location, it was an easy set up for Ben to enrol in HIA’s online Certificate IV in Building and Construction course, and he says he has found the experience to be extremely worthwhile.

Comedic crew

As they say: ‘work hard, play hard’, and that is exactly what the Antarctic expeditioners do. Check out the division’s YouTube channel and social media for an array of comedic content, including top tips on COVID-19 isolation and social distancing, and their ice water swim in the Davis Pool.

‘Virtual or online training is basically my only option while I’m down here and thankfully I’ve found it has exceeded expectations. It has allowed me to more easily balance work and study while being four hours behind the rest of Australia.’

Marina says HIA has kept varied lines of communication open for students like Ben by providing an online training option delivered via Zoom, email and WhatsApp. Although Tasmania continued to run live webinars, in Ben’s case, the HIA Training team were able to send through the recorded link to make sure he didn’t miss a thing.

‘We have been working hard to ensure everyone completing training with HIA are supported, and that of course includes the ways in which we communicate with them,’ Marina says.

When away from his studies, Ben has made an effort to make the most of exploring his new habitat, applying his trade skills in a very different environment to residential building, and capturing the beauty of his surroundings. This season he says there have been a number of highlights, but one in particular stands out in his mind.

‘We went on a trip to repair and test gas services for some of our distant buildings,’ Ben reveals. ‘Flying for the first time over the Vestfold Hills by chopper to our summer aircraft ski landing [gave an amazing] view from above.

‘Looking down at the rock formations and lakes before crossing the plateau will be something that stays in my memory. The scale, immensity and beauty of the continent is like nothing else I’ve yet to see.’

While for the time being it’s work, study and explore, all good things come to an end and Ben is looking forward to returning home to some normality and beginning work on his own block of land with his new-found training under his belt.

‘I miss the important people in my life and being out and about exploring in the Tasmanian wilderness,’ he says. ‘I’m not looking forward to coming back to the flies and mosquitos though! I definitely don’t miss those.’

But we think he will be sure to miss capturing images of the wild, extreme beauty of the Antarctic landscape and the antics of the research base’s well-dressed penguin neighbours.

Visit HIA Training for new flexible training options now available.

Working on ice

Ben is just one of many in our industry who have had the amazing experience of working in Antarctica. There are an array of job opportunities for building industry professionals in particular, not just researchers and scientists.

Ben’s advice to other trades potentially interested in swapping the dirt for ice: ‘When the jobs are advertised on the Australian Antarctic Division website, just have a go at putting in an application. It’s entirely possible you’ll surprise yourself’.

You might also like:

Construction How-to Planning
By the book
Arriving at almost 70 years of experience, Western Australia’s Rawlinsons have been a key figure in cost consultancy as well as quantity surveying for Australia’s bustling building industry. HIA speaks to Business Manager Kirsty M...
Feb 22
8 min read
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Financial planning Fees Insurance
Fixer upper finance
There is nothing more frustrating for you or your client than delays. Don’t let your renovation project face a financial setback – Handypay is here to help.  
Feb 22
4 min read
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Sustainability Environment Wellbeing
More time for what moves you
We all know you can’t buy happiness but there’s something else you can’t acquire – time. So what if you could have more of both? HOUSING speaks to Ben Silver, co-founder of Benzina Zero, on creating time for what matters most.
Mar 21
5 min read
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Social media Website How-to
Plugged In: Website success stories
Is your website failing to win over prospective clients? Here are some inside tips from four HIA members whose businesses have attracted website visitors and converted them into customers. 
Dec 21
7 min read
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Work Health and Safety (WHS) Employee conditions
Why mind over mental health matters
How’s your ‘mental health literacy’? Do you know how to protect your own mental wellbeing, or recognise signs a mate might be in trouble? Dr Grant Blashki from Beyond Blue shares his insights into ways that housing professionals c...
Aug 20
4 min read
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Construction Inspiration Workmanship
The Light Choice
The HIA Housing team talk to Isuzu light truck owners about their experience with their vehicle and how the dealer network and HIA relationship helped seal the deal.
Aug 21
6 min read
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Inspiration Innovation Residential
David Reid Homes: How to build your business
David Reid Homes is positioned in the luxury home building market throughout Australia – and becoming a franchisee is a great way to fast track your business.
Nov 21
7 min read
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Expenses Financial planning
Getting back on the horse
The 2021-22 Federal Budget will be announced on Tuesday 11 May. What can we expect for residential building?
Nov 21
4 min read
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Administration Financial planning
When equity opportunity knocks
As the industry murmurings around renovation and regional investment grow into a roar, the key to getting on board may just lie in leveraging today’s low interest rates to borrow or refinance.
Oct 21
6 min read
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Design Inspiration Installation
Do your clients want a pool? Take the Plungie!
As more clients add a pool to the list of must-haves, expensive and labour-intensive installations are being abandoned. Precast pools are more than just a fast, easy and cost-effective solution. They exude style, luxury and insta-...
Oct 21
5 min read
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Apprentice Hiring
Paving the way
For school leavers and young workers, beginning a career path is challenging. When extra help is needed, HIA is here to lend a hand.
Oct 21
7 min read
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Employee conditions Human Relations (HR) Work Health and Safety (WHS)
Mentally healthy workplaces
From Beyond Blue’s Lead Clinical Advisor - Dr Grant Blashki
Aug 20
4 min read
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Apprentice Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Safety
Making sensei
HIA and icare NSW join forces to help reduce the high rates of injury among young - and often tentative – workers and apprentices who work on construction sites.
Aug 20
4 min read
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Employee conditions Construction Work Health and Safety (WHS)
Having the hard conversations
Mental illness is having a devastating impact on the lives of housing professionals, their colleagues and their families. But by working collectively to challenge cultural norms, and support ourselves and our mates, we can effect ...
Oct 21
6 min read
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight