Around Macca with Peter P
Visits from the outside world are hard to come by when you're based in a hut somewhere on Macquarie Island for 24 days at a time.
Luckily the MIPEP hunters and dog handlers (who are spending the majority of the next nine months in the field) have eradication team leader Pete P, who was this week joined by Claudia B. Pete visits the seven MIPEP teams on a fortnightly circuit, to make sure everyone is OK, download their GPS tracks and other tasks. He's a welcome sight, mostly for his award-winning personality, but also because he comes bearing gifts – meat is the most craved luxury item (on this round he carried out more than 5 kg of frozen sausages).
Pete also relates the latest news. It’s the first month into the hunting phase, and the biggest question on everyone’s mind is how their mileage compares to those of other teams. Everyone’s been putting in the hard yards - the total mileage clocked up in the first month is well in excess of 2000 km!
Each team is approaching the challenge of hut life in different ways. Pete K and Ben H, based at the southern end of the island for the past month, have been using the opportunity to work on their physique, supplementing their daily treks with a nightly callisthetics programme. Ben H has even sworn off his favourite food, Tim Tams (which some of the huts are amply supplied with).
Despite his Achilles tendon giving him a bit of pain at the start, Tom used the opportunity to fix the cold porch door at Tiobunga Hut, and Sandy (who was part of the Macca cat eradication team 10 years ago) is rediscovering old haunts.
Jane and Lochy welcomed Pete with two large trays of yummy biscuits, while morning tea with Jack and Tony was cut short when Jack flew up the mountain from Davis Point Hut after getting a call from Dana about some fresh rabbit signs.
Pete and Claudia spent Sunday with Nancye and rangers Paul and Bree at Green Gorge Hut. Sunday is a day off for the MIPEP crew. Nancye took the opportunity to do some washing, rest the dogs, and taught Claudia how to play cribbage.
After helping Dana dig up a hole she’d fumigated near Skua Tarn, Pete’s last stop on the way back up the island was Bauer Bay, to catch up with Gary and Dean. On Tuesday morning he and Claudia helped unpack one of the food pods.
Pete and Claudia returned to station on Tuesday (just in time to escape the passing storm), ahead of the rest of the MIPEP crew who are due back in on Thursday for a good rest, clean up and much merriment.
by Claudia Babirat