Paul and MacGyver trip to Hurd Point: folding toilet seats, pterodactyls and the Green Gorge death march
Saturday 26 July, was my first chance for a work trip down to Hurd Point, at the far southern end at Macquarie Island. The first part of my week long adventure was relatively easy. I was to take a boat ride in the zodiac inflatable rubber boats (IRBs) to Waterfall Bay hut, about three quarters of the way down the island, which required a faulty voltage regulator for the solar panels to be replaced on the local RAPS (remote area power source) unit. After a very scenic one hour voyage down island, I was dropped off at the landing beach to be greeted by our TASPAWS wildlife ranger Mike, who had sprained an ankle and was catching a boat ride home back to the station.
All the gear was unloaded, and the IRBs departed, leaving me to haul all the supplies and equipment to the hut, some 540 meters away. When this task had been completed, it was on to the next one, and the faulty voltage regulator was quickly swapped out and I then had an opportunity to take in the surroundings of this remote location.
Saturday 27 July – I was joined on my trip by our building services supervisor Graeme Freeman (AKA MacGyver – also known as ‘chicken legs’). MacGyver claims to be the inventor of the fold up toilet seat (an essential bit of kit for any prolonged journey off station). He was walking from station the 26 kilometers to Waterfall Bay, where we were to rest up for a day and then journey south, on to Hurd Point to complete some hut maintenance tasks . Around 3pm-ish (the exact time is still in dispute), MacGyver arrived at Waterfall Bay hut. We put the kettle on and formed plans for the remaining parts of our journey over a hot cup of tea. Now, Waterfall Bay seems to have an abundance of wildlife. The most prominent being the giant petrels, which seem to be present in large numbers at this location. When in flight they reminded me of a pterodactyl (spelled with a silent 'p', thanks Meg), from those Jurassic Park films.
Tuesday 29 July – We set off for Hurd point and the first part of the trip from Waterfall Bay seemed to be the hardest. The term jump-up is used often here on Macca. It is the part of the track which takes you from sea level up onto the plateau towards the centre of the island. It is a good workout for the legs and lungs and generally by the time you are at the top of a jump-up you are glad that part of the track is over. Being the first time I had gone this far south, I found the journey very interesting as we worked our way along the overland track, arriving at our destination, Hurd Point, by mid afternoon. We turned the gas on, boiled the billy, and rested our tired legs, while taking in the awesome views out of the very large hut windows.
Thursday 31 July – Hut maintenance completed, it was time to begin the 35 km journey back to station. First up, yes you guessed it, a jump-up. With this completed some 45 minutes later, we were at the top and rested for a short while, taking in some great views. No sooner had we started walking again, the weather took a turn for the worst. The wind picked up, the temperature dropped and pretty soon we found the journey hard work. Around the four kilometre mark we rested up at the no longer used Windy Ridge hut, and seriously thought about our options before continuing on. The 15 minutes or so in the hut, out of the wind and sleet, allowed a quick bite to eat, and a drink. I put on some heavier clothing and goggles, then we headed off again into more snow and wind for the remaining 11 kilometers to Green Gorge. It was a very long, tiring day, with frequent wind and snow drifts, and I was very glad to arrive at the hut later that afternoon, completely spent.
The next day was a complete contrast. We awoke to clear blue skies, no wind: a perfect day for walking. We relaxed in the hut, recovering from the previous day’s ordeal, which I dubbed ‘the Green Gorge death march’.
Saturday 2 August – We headed off on the 15 km walk back to station. Overnight, there had been a large dump of snow, completely transforming the landscape, and making walking conditions again very hazardous and hard going. We finally arrived back on station mid-afternoon. It is always nice to return to a hot shower and a comfy bed, but I was also very pleased to have walked the length of Macca.