This week at the station

This week at Macquarie Island: 9 August 2013

Dave's Birthday

On Saturday the 27thof July we gathered together to celebrate a man who is envied by everyone on Macquarie Island. Yep... indeed, there’s not much to say really except that Dave is simply the best.

Happy Birthday Mr Brett, the awesome BSS!

We celebrated with a stupendous menu of finger food created and cooked by Chef Tony and Patty, and followed by a monstrously tall cake.

Dave was spoiled and showered with gifts, magic glowing thumbs for magic tricks from the Doctor Clive, a bottle of malt whiskey wrapped in newspaper and stuck together with HP sauce because Chef Tony didn’t have any sticky tape, and a double-sided Mancala board game made by the golden boy of Macquarie Aaron (some say he is the ginger beard man).

The evening continued with a slide show of photos of Dave submitted by his lovely wife Bronwyn and we finished the evening with a video comedy show.

Happy birthday Dave, you are brilliant.

Celebrating Dave's birthday - The Macca bar area adorned with decorations with a frieze of letters across the front edge of the bar spelling 'Happy Birthday Dave!'
Celebrating Dave's birthday
(Photo: Tony Mortimer)
Dave sitting behind the decorated bar
Smile Dave! It's your birthday
(Photo: Tony Mortimer)
Patty and Chef Tony in the kitchen, preparing the food for Dave's party. Patty is holding a large frying pan over the stove top that has flames rising from it
Patty and Chef Tony preparing the food for Dave's party
(Photo: Tony Mortimer)
Finger food for Dave's birthday spread out on the coffee table. 'Happy Birthday Dave' is spelled out in chocolate on the centre of the table
Finger food for Dave's birthday
(Photo: Tony Mortimer)
Aaron, Craig and Josh, each with a plate of finger food, enjoying Dave's birthday party
Aaron, Craig and Josh enjoying Dave's birthday party
(Photo: Tony Mortimer)
Dave's birthday cake - a tall cake with 'Happy Birthday Dave' letters in chocolate across the top and slivered almond pieces stuck to the side
Dave's birthday cake
(Photo: Tony Mortimer)
Dave, in the left foreground, enjoying his birthday while several other expeditioners congregate around the bar. The large birthday cake is on the bar
Dave enjoying his birthday
(Photo: Tony Mortimer)
Dave in his hippy phase. Dave with several friends on a boat. Dave is dressed in a lime green shirt, frilled waist coat, has a 'peace' symbol pendant and has long frizzy hair tied with a orange head band
Dave in his hippy phase
(Photo: Bronwyn Clarke)

The Deep Freeze

During this time of the year the weather systems zoom through Macquarie Island at a fast pace.

We are in the zone for some extreme conditions. Our temperature doesn’t vary greatly as the surrounding ocean has a moderating effect. Though we don’t experience the profoundly cold temperatures of our colleagues on continental Antarctica, we occasionally receive a blast from the south.

This was the case in the last week of July. From the 22nd a series of cold fronts crossed the island, bringing the usual drizzle and showers over the next couple of days.

Then, as the associated low pressure system passed south of the island, a cold front crossed Macca on the afternoon of the 24th. The winds turned south-westerly and brought a cold blast. The air mass had been transported from the Antarctic continent.

Despite the moderating effect of the Southern Ocean waters the temperature at Macca dropped to way below freezing, also producing heavy snow showers for the next 36 hours.

A minimum temperature of -8.5°C was recorded, which was not far from the coldest temperature ever recorded for Macca of -9.4°C (65 years of records). We also take readings of the ground (terrestrial) temperature and it was down to -11.0°C on the morning of the 25th which was only 0.1°C from the coldest recorded.

The result was an island covered in powdery snow and ice (as seen from last week's story – Ange’s Archeological Dig). This was ideal for photography and many of us took the opportunity to get out there and take some snaps.

By Barend (Barry) Becker

A snow blasted Eitel watertank hut looking north
Eitel watertank hut looking north
(Photo: Leona Plaisier)
Karen on the snow covered plateau with the dogs Ash, Chase, Bail and Finn. The shadow of the photographer is distinct on the snow
Karen on the plateau with Ash, Chase, Bail and Finn
(Photo: Leona Plaisier)
Not so Sandy track to Sandy Bay. The countryside is extensively covered in snow, though the track can be seen heading towards the coast
Not so Sandy track to Sandy Bay
(Photo: Steve (Billy) Barton)
Green Gorge chalet covered in heavy, deep snow
Green Gorge chalet
(Photo: Marty Benavente)
Mt Hamilton covered in deep snow, viewed from the north with a frozen Lake Tiobunga seen on the right
Mt Hamilton
(Photo: Marty Benavente)
A view across a extensively snow covered scene from a high vantage point on the plateau  towards Sandy Bay and Brothers Point contrasting with the deep blue coloured ocean
Sandy Bay and Brothers Point
(Photo: Marty Benavente)
View of the snow covered slopes on the East Coast from the isthmus. A couple of elephant seals are fighting on the snow covered shore in the foreground
East Coast from the isthmus
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)
View across Hasselborough Bay to the snow covered slopes and Handspike Point
View across Hasselborough Bay
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)
View across the snow covered Magnetic Quiet Zone with the slopes up to the plateau in the background. There are many snow covered tussock mounds in the foreground
View across the Magnetic Quiet Zone
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)
Looking south over the snow covered isthmus and the slopes up to the plateau. In the foreground is a timber fence enclosure to the fuel 'farm' including a store area for plastic polypipe and some fencing timber
Looking south
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)
A snow and ice encrusted elephant seal lies amongst the tussock in the foreground with a snow covered magnetic quiet zone, Hasselborough Bay and the slopes up to the plateau in the background
Sheltering between the tussock
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)
A elephant seal encrusted in snow and ice
Ele seal
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)

Macca Gallery

This weeks gallery shows images of the wildly contrasting scenes of winter at Macquarie Island. Plus we have a few images of MIPEP at work out in the field.
A view from a high vantage point above Sandy Bay to Brothers Point. The snow covered peaks are lit by the late afternoon sun
Brothers Point from above Sandy Bay
(Photo: Steve (Billy) Barton)
An elephant seal lies at the edge of a puddle on the track from the station. It casts an almost perfect reflection in the puddle
Reflective seal
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)
Tom silhouetted against the sun walking up a slope near Bauer Bay
Tom goes into the sun near Bauer Bay
(Photo: Steve (Billy) Barton)
View of a weak aurora australis, coloured in shades of green and red, against a star encrusted clear sky
Star studded aurora
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)
Sunset reflected in a wallow west of Razorback Ridge. The tussock and a couple of gentoo penguins beyond the wallow are silhouetted
Sunset west of Razorback Ridge
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)
Sellick Bay escarpment after snowfall. The rugged, rocky peaks of the escarpment are exposed (not snow covered)
Sellick Bay escarpment after snowfall
(Photo: Leona Plaisier)
Elephant seals duelling, silhouetted against the sunset over Hasselborrough Bay
Elephant seals duelling at sunset at Hasselborough Bay
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)
Extensive snow over Sandy Bay and Brothers Point. The small, red Brothers Point hut can be seen tucked in the base of the valley between the steep slopes of the escarpment
Extensive snow over Sandy Bay and Brothers Point with the hut tucked…
(Photo: Steve (Billy) Barton)
Reflection in a big puddle on the track near East Coast. Tussock lines both sides of the track with the green slopes of the eastern escarpment seen ahead in the distance
Reflection on the track near East Coast
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)
Ash the springer spaniel admires some Ice Art. Ash is standing in front of large icicles in a sloping bank
Ash the springer spaniel admires some ice art
(Photo: Karen Andrew)
The gap in Razorback Ridge almost perfectly reflected in a puddle on the track
The gap in Razorback Ridge
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)
Billy with springer spaniels, Joker and Colin, resting on the steps to the lookout
Billy with springer spaniels, Joker and Colin
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)