Living on Macquarie Island

A  mixed group of expeditioners pose sitting on tussock grass while smiling.
Expeditioners relax after completing a petrel census. (Photo: Andrea Turbett)
Station on isthmus and plateau bathed in golden afternoon sun in a view taken from on top of North HeadExpeditioners conduct inflatable rubber boat training.View from the Ham Shack - shows the snow covered escarpment and plateau beyond the isthmus. Some of the station buildings are visible on the isthmusExpeditioners at edge of slope with stretcher attached to ropesExpeditioners making a toast in period costumeHurd Point hut with water on left, penguins all over the beach, and land on the right - long grass is seen in foreground

The ANARE station on Macquarie Island is located on a narrow, windswept isthmus near Wireless Hill and is the longest continuously operating Australian station in the subantarctic or Antarctica. Since its establishment by the first ANARE in 1948, the station has been subjected to a series of upgrades and refurbishments, and provides for comfortable accommodation in an otherwise windswept location in the Southern Pacific Ocean.  

Currently, the station infrastructure comprises more than 30 separate buildings and includes accommodation, communal mess, doctor's surgery, stores, workshops, communications and power generation facilities. Most of the research and scientific buildings, including geophysics, biology, upper atmosphere physics and meteorology, are also located on the isthmus. 

The Southern Aurora donga (otherwise known as SAD) is one of the original structures located within the complex and dates from 1958. SAD comprises 18 cubicle style rooms, with communal toilets and showers facilities located at one end. It is the only remaining traditional style donga left on any of the Antarctic stations.

Garden Cove, built in 1969, contains eight slightly large sized rooms similarly with communal ablution facilities. The rooms have raised bunk style beds and windows that can be opened.

Hasselborough House, a more modern style of accommodation, contains 11 rooms, including two doubles, laundry, drying room, toilets and showers.

Cumpston Cottage is a prefabricated two storey timber house erected during the 1995-96 summer. The cottage is comprised of living quarters for the station leader, doctor and chef and also contains the station leader's office.

The kitchen and the mess combine to serve as the social heart of the station and provide a venue for everyone to meet together in a community atmosphere. Total number of expeditioners on station will vary from 14 to 40 depending on the season or other research or construction projects being undertaken at the time. Traditionally, Macquarie Island is home for up to 16 expeditioners over winter. 


Macquarie Island life

Video transcript

Dr James Doube

It's a pretty amazing place to live. It's, both from a community sense, you're with a group of really interesting people who've genuinely done a wide variety of things before and come down here, not because it's just another job but because they're wanting that greater experience or that interaction with the environment. It's almost like living in some sort of nature documentary. There are so many animals packed in such a small space. Most of the animals that we think about living in the Antarctic don't actually want to have their babies on the ice so many of the seals, the albatrosses and many species of penguin that may feed further south want to lay their eggs on the last bit of sort of normal green-covered dirt rather than ice and that's what Macquarie Island represents.

[end transcript]