This week at the station

This week at Macquarie Island: 24 May 2013

Celebrating Craig’s birthday!

On Monday 20 May we celebrated young Craig’s birthday! Out came the balloons and streamers of blue and yellow to represent his favourite Rugby League team, the Parramatta Eels.

We celebrate this young lad and keen sports fanatic - the kind of guy that enters an 82 kilometre trail run from Cradle Mountain to Lake St Clair limited to 50 runners just for fun, an unstoppable darts fiend who carves up the mess dance floor on late nights and is known to sing, hitting the high notes while he sleeps.

For his birthday he received a toy telephone, a fishing and golf magazine and a handcrafted bottle opener made by Dave.

The night included a few beverages at the bar and a game of darts followed by a delicious variety of pasta dishes and a scrumptious rainbow flavoured Parramatta Eels cake made by our chef Tony and decorated by Patty.

As he blew the candles out on his birthday cake, we saw Craig transform before our very eyes from young lad into a chest beating man of men.

Happy birthday Craig - you’re a little ripper!

Craig standing at the bar holding a twisty
(Photo: David Brett)
Craig standing with his hands in his pocket
(Photo: David Brett)
Everybody celebrating behind the bar that's decorated in balloons and streamers coloured yellow and blue craig is sitting in the middle
The crew celebrate Craig!
(Photo: Barry)
Everybody behind the bar thats's decorated in yellow and blue balloons and streamers, Craig standing in his blue and yellow Parramatta Eels jersey
Happy birthday Craig
(Photo: Barry Becker)
Craig sitting at the table looking at his birthday cake with lit candles and sparlers
Birthday cake
(Photo: Barry Becker)
Craig sitting at the blowing out his birthday cake candles and sparlers
Blowing out the candles
(Photo: Barry Becker)
Craig with streamers on his head showing his cake
From lad to man of men
(Photo: Barry Becker)
Craig sitting at the table holding his birthday cake with streamers on his head and to his left is Marty
Marty wants your cake Craig
(Photo: Barry becker)
Craing cutting his cake and in the background Marty watches
Cutting the cake. Marty still wants your cake Craig!
(Photo: Barry Becker)
Craig serving a piece of his birthday cake while Marty watches
Serve it up! Give Marty the first piece!
(Photo: Barry Becker)

Bringing the greens to the table

Well it’s all happening in our hydroponics thanks to the masters Aaron and Craig. The pair have been planting seedlings, caring and nurturing for them with all their loving hearts.

Chinse whispers is that the secret to their success of such tasty veggies is in the serenading and crooning of each plant.

The plants are busting out the loving in gratitude! We’ve had some amazing lettuce and blow-your-mind tasting rocket lettuce so far and there’s more to come.

The boys have planted zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, chillies, capsicums, silver beat, okra and sage - yep, yep, yep! The greenhouse is pumping.

Thanks boys - we look forward to the tasty 'freshies'.

Hydroponics hut
Hydroponics hut
(Photo: Patty Villegas)
The door to the Hydroponics room with a plark that says Chippys Church
The door to the enlightenment
(Photo: Patty Villegas)
The hydroponics door is opened and the light from inside is illuminating out in the background you can see plants and hydroponic tanks
Chippy's Church
(Photo: Patty Villegas)
Aaron in the hydroponic room next to the tomato plants
Master Aaron seeing to his tomatoes
(Photo: Patty Villegas)
a bunch of green tomatoes
Tomatoes on their way
(Photo: Patty Villegas)
Patty with a brush standing amongst the plants at the back of hydroponics help to pollinate the plants
Patty helping to pollinate in hydroponics
(Photo: Patty Villegas)
Cucumber and flower plant
Cucumber and flower
(Photo: Patty Villegas)
Zucchini and yellow flower
Zucchini and flower
(Photo: Patty Villegas)
Aaron pollinating tomatoes with a paint brush
Aaron the busy little bee
(Photo: Patty Villegas)
Patty holding tomatoes close to her face and pointing at the tomatoes while she holds a pollinating brush
The goods are brewing
(Photo: Patty Villegas)
Aaron with the hose in his hand putting water into a hydroponics tank
Plants are parched
(Photo: Patty Villegas)

On the hunt

The MIPEP hunting team have been perusing the hills of Macquarie monitoring the island for the final signs of any last remaining rabbits. The 2013 team arrived in March of this year and are into their second month of solid monitoring.

The island is split into three hunting or monitoring blocks that are being scoured with a fine-toothed comb using a combination of scenting dogs and hunters to scope the ground. May saw our first real fall of snow for the year, an event that can assist the monitoring process as the snow would easily show any prints or recent sign.

The team splits its time between daytime and night work, spotlighting on the clear nights to cover the ground using a variety of hunting techniques. By the end of a year, each and every aspect of the island will have been searched by the team.

Every team member will have a strong recognition of the topography and a strong connection with the features of this land: the cycle of vegetation, the cycle of wildlife and the cycle of the sun as we enter the shortest days of the year in the coming month.

Featured below are some shots from team members in the field - their place of work and residence.

MIPEP Hunters Mike and Billy dressed in yellow AAD jackets with backpacks on, on top of the plateau, Macquarie Island
Figure 1: Mike and Billy near Flat Creek
(Photo: Stephen Horn)
Flaximus Prime the golden Labrador taking a break on the plateau of Macquarie Island, resting on the grass and looking regal.
Figure 2: Flax the dog, near Jessie Nicol catchment
(Photo: Stephen Horn)
Looking across the brown grassed rolling hills of the Macquarie Island plateau, some snow visible ont the tops in the background
Figure 3: Looking inland from the Jessie Nicol track
(Photo: Stephen Horn)
Hunter Karen Andrew is just visible as a dot mid screen climbing a jagged hill above the foreshore tussock and ocean extending to Handspike Point on the west coast of Macquarie Island.
Figure 4: MIPEP hunter Karen Andrew ascends the escarpment towards Handspike Point
(Photo: Stephen Horn)
MIPEP hunter Nick McCabe leaning on his trusty walking pole above the razor back hill on Macquarie Island.
Figure 5: Nick above the Razor back
(Photo: Stephen Horn)
MIPEP hunter Nancye pulls the peace sign with jacket zipped high to protect from the wind, she and two others are standing beside a large rock with four dogs above an area of gravel and a small lake on the plateau
Figure 6: MIPEP hunters Nancye, Mike and Billy stop for smoko with…
(Photo: Stephen Horn)
The headland for North Head and the station are visible in the background with the isthmus and the ocean washing onto west beach to the left of shot. Perseverance Bluff looking like a gravel fish on the tussock hillside to the right.
Figure 7: View of station looking back from Handspike Point, with Perserverance…
(Photo: Stephen Horn)
Brown and fluffy king penguin chick stands on a rock above the colourful King Penguin adults in the midst of a crowd of King Penguins at Lusitania Bay rookery.
Figure 8: King penguin chick amongst the crowd at Lusitania Bay
(Photo: Stephen Horn)
An adult king penguin stands with neck extended, trumpeting amongst four or five adult King Penguins at Lusitania Bay. There are a few brown King Penguin Chicks in the background.
Figure 9: King penguin trumpets his prowess at Lusitania Bay
(Photo: Stephen Horn)
It seems the feet are the only inedible part of a penguin. The Black rubbery foot of a King Penguin extends from the leg bones leftover on a pebbly beach after the scavenging of a penguin carcass.
Figure 10: Footloose – legless penguin out there somewhere
(Photo: Stephen Horn)

Down to Mt Jeffryes by boat

Last week the VHF Repeater (Channel 21) on top of Mt Jeffryes stopped operating. A plan was devised to get the repeater up and going again.

Because certain equipment had to be transported to the repeater a boating trip was organized to get the gear near to the base of Mt Jeffryes, which is around 27 kilometres south of the station. The weather cooperated and the boat trip was organized for Saturday. After setting up three IRB’s, nine crew headed down to Landing Beach and were on the water heading south around 10am.

As the days are getting shorter we made a beeline for the coastal area at the base of Mt Jeffryes. It was a stunning trip south with the sun poking through the clouds every now and then enhancing the beautiful vivid colours of the eastern island slopes. Fortune was on our side as one of the crew spotted a whale further out to sea. It was an awesome sight seeing the small dorsal fin and fluked tail occasionally break through. We passed the familiar Brothers Point Hut and further south we saw three small figures of Dean, Tom and Mike on the balcony of Green Gorge Hut.

Being out on the boats gives one an amazing perspective of Macca’s rugged coastline. The scenery is just stunning. We soon passed Waterfall Bay Hut and then another highlight as we continued south past Lusitania Bay and its huge number of resident king penguins. Soon after Lusitania Bay we arrived at the coast directly under the slopes of Mt Jefferyes. We slowly scoured the rocky coast looking for a suitable landing spot. There were four waterfalls flowing down the steep ravines into the preferred bay, but the southerly swell made it difficult for a safe landing. After careful deliberation it was decided to try further north for a wider beach landing. The final choice was a long pebble beach north of the penguin colonies at Lusatania Bay.

All three IRB’s landed on the beach and our two passengers - Greg and Mark - disembarked with all the required gear, while the rest of the crew steadied the boats. Steve and Angela, a couple of the MIPEP crew, were up on the slopes and would slowly make their way down to meet up with Greg and Mark so as to give them a hand to carry the gear up the steep slopes.

The three boats then proceeded north again. This time, we were fortunate to witness the pronounced dorsal fins of two killer whales. They popped up around 300 metres seaward of our boats. We also saw a ‘raft’ of many giant petrels who were feeding on the scraps left by the feeding orcas. We had a quick lunch stop at Green Gorge hut, where we were warmly greeted by Tom, Mike and Dean. After a nice hot cuppa, it was back on the water with Dean and Tom replacing the two we left down the coast. The return journey north was just as spectacular, even more comfortable as we were now heading in the same direction as the decreasing swell. Again we saw four orca dorsal fins out to sea.

After covering a total distance of 64 kilometres we arrived back at Landing Beach around 3:30pm. We then had the boats cleaned and all the gear packed away a little after 4pm.

It was a very successful trip. 

Barend (Barry) Becker 

Four expeditioners on the porch of the mess getting ready to go to the boat shed
Excited about the boat trip
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)
The three IRB's on their trailers, in front of the mechanics workshop. Several expeditioners dressed in dry suits and PFD (personal floatation device) doing various tasks around the boats
Preparing the IRBs at the mechanics workshop for the trip to Mt…
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)
Taken from one of the boats looking south with the other two boats ahead and the rugged coast to the right  and the Nuggets ahead on the middle of the horizon
Heading south
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)
From one of the boats looking south along the rugged coast, with sun illuminating part of the hills in bright shades of green
Brief sunshine illuminating the green slopes
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)
View from one of the boats (the bow in the foreground) looking south along the rugged coast, with sun illuminating part of the hills in bright shades of green. The other two boats are just ahead
Great conditions for boating
(Photo: barend (Barry) Becker)
View from one of the boats looking west towards the coast with the a waterfall on Red River. One of the other boats just in the foreground
The coast around Red River showing the falls down the steep gully
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)
From one of the boats looking towards the beach and Green Gorge hut just above the beach. Tom, Dean and Mike can be seen on the porch of the hut
Tom, Dean and Mike at Green Gorge hut
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)
The view from one of the boats towards a big king penguin colony at Lusitania Bay, showing a huge number of adult and brown chicks
Zoomed in to the king penguin colony at Lusitania Bay
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)
View from on of thew boats towards the rugged steep slopes of the coast near the base of Mt Jeffryes. Three waterfalls can be seen cascading down the slopes
Searching for a landing spot near the base of Mt Jeffryes
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)
View from one of the boats looking south with the rugged coast near Mt Jeffryes on the right and one of the other boats in the left of picture
The beautiful rugged coast near Mt Jeffryes
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)
A single dorsal fin of an Orca seaward of the IRB.
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)
The view from one of the boats towards the huge king penguin colony at Lusitania Bay. One of the other boats is just in the foreground
Lusitania Bay
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)
View from one of the boats towards Lusitania Bay king penguin colony. The hills above the bay are sunlit to show the vivid yellow, orang and green colouring
The sun brightening the hills above Lusitania Bay
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)
View form one of the boats of the beach, north of Lusitania Bay, with Mark, Greg and all their gear on the beach, ready to head to Mt Jeffryes
Mark and Greg on the beach north of Lusitania Bay
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)
View from one of the boats, with Chris, our skipper, in the foreground, guiding our boat northward after dropping off Mark and Greg . The rugged slopes of the island are in the background
Chris, our skipper, guiding our boat northward after dropping off Mark and…
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)
Rustic Green Gorge hut, with the tussock covered rocky ground surrounding the hut
Stopped at the beautiful Green Gorge hut for a late lunch
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)
View from near Green Gorge hut looking towards the three IRB's on the beach and the rocky outcrops surrounding the small bay
On the beach at Green Gorge hut
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)
View from one of the boats of the other two boats with the hills rising up from the coast just south of Green Gorge in the background
Boat meeting off Green Gorge
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)
View from one of the boats looking south with the other two boats in the foreground and the rugged rocky outcrops of the Nuggets behind them
Heading past the Nuggets in the late afternoon
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)
View from one of the boats looking up towards Gadgets Gully
Gadgets Gully from a different perspective
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)