Living on Macquarie Island

Macquarie Island seen across the water through porthole.
The first sight of Macquarie Island for most expeditioners - a porthole view (Photo: D. Lee)
Station buildingsExpeditioners on beach during resupply, boat in backgroundStation buildings under snowExpeditioner mopping floor in messChairs and library shelves full of booksExpeditioners playing bocce outside station buildingsPenguins standing in Buckles Bay, surf in background

The station on Macquarie Island is built on a narrow isthmus at the northern end of the island. It consists of more than 30 separate buildings. The sleeping quarters, mess, surgery, stores and powerhouse buildings lie in the shelter of Wireless Hill at the northern end of the isthmus.

Most of the scientific buildings, including geophysics, biology, upper atmosphere physics and meteorology, are housed on the isthmus. The station’s communications centre and garage are also in this vicinity.

Four accommodation buildings are located within the station compound at the northern end of the isthmus.

Southern Aurora Donga (SAD), also known as The Beach House, dates from 1958 and is the oldest and only traditional donga with small sleeping cubicles and bunk style beds. There are currently 18 small rooms, with toilets and showers located at the northern end.

Garden Cove was built in 1969 and houses eight larger sized rooms. In addition to toilets, showers and laundry facilities, Garden Cove houses the two station dark rooms at the western end. The rooms have raised bunk style beds and windows that can be opened.

Hasselborough House contains 11 rooms, including two doubles, laundry, drying room, toilets and showers. The rooms have windows that are fixed shut.

Cumpston's Cottage is a prefabricated two storey timber house erected during the 1995-96 summer. It has four rooms, including the station leader's room and office as well as the chef's and doctor's rooms.

The kitchen and the mess are the social heart of the station and provide a venue for everyone to meet together in a community atmosphere.

Macquarie Island is home to about 40 expeditioners over summer, with about 16 over winter.

[Video]

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.

This page was last modified on 18 December 2006.