This week at Macquarie Island: 31 January 2020

Australia Day celebrations at Macquarie Island

Australia Day celebrations at Macquarie Island

Australia Day was celebrated in style on Macquarie Island. In the morning we traditionally have a “station swim” which involves a very brief dip on one side of the isthmus, then scamper across to the other side of the isthmus for another very brief dip, then adjourn to the hot spa bath which has been warmed for the occasion. The ocean temperature here is about 4-5 degrees. In the afternoon, we enjoy a station game of cricket. We partook of all these pastimes this year, followed by a pig on a spit for dinner, although only seven hardy souls of our 17 on station actually elected to do the swim!

Australian Antarctic Division policy for a swim includes a number of safety/risk management procedures: a station group briefing from the doctor regarding the medical risks inherent in doing anything so foolish, an individual check and medical risk assessment by the doctor, a signed “indemnity” form, and a requirement for a two person “marine mammal” watch to be maintained over the swim vicinity for an hour beforehand to look out for orcas or leopard seals. With all preliminaries completed, our bay watch was faithfully observed and no orcas were sighted, so our swim proceeded as planned. Some of us have done it before, have experienced the extreme discomfort of immersing yourself in ice cold water, and happily still involved ourselves actively in the fun by doing lookout duties. But well done to our seven brave swimmers!

Three expeditioners standing on large rock stack
Orca watch from the "anchor rock stack" on the isthmus
(Photo: Lionel Whitehorn)
One expeditioner standing with binoculars on a grassy hill
Orca watch from the "hamshack" on Hamshack Hill
(Photo: Lionel Whitehorn)
Seven swimmers about to enter the water
Seven hardy Macca swimmers ready for the plunge
(Photo: Lionel Whitehorn)
Swimmers emerge from the water and run up the beach
Swimmers emerge from the water
(Photo: Lionel Whitehorn)
expeditioner batting in cricket game
Tim scores "six and out"!
(Photo: Ivor Harris)
Expeditioner bowling in a cricket game
Rich bowled a maiden over!
(Photo: Ivor Harris)
expeditioner batting in a cricket game
Kate batted with surgical precision
(Photo: Ivor Harris)