This week at the station

This week at Macquarie Island: 6 June 2014

A trip to Aurora cave

Bureau of Meteorology staff Evelyn and Sean recently used several off-roster days to walk down island to visit a local landmark, Aurora cave.

Aurora cave is one of several caves on the west coast of the island known to have been used during the 19th century as a temporary accommodation for sealers and quite possibly as a refuge for shipwrecked sailors in the 19th and maybe even earlier centuries. Most of the known shipwrecks occurred on the western weather coast, and there is historical evidence of at least one wreck probably dated from the 18th century nearby. There is good archeological evidence of human occupation of the cave, and it is also where the best skeletons of the now extinct Macquarie Island rail and other past creatures were found in the 1960’s.

Aurora cave is located several hours walk south of our west coastal Bauer Bay hut, and is accessed by crossing a section of the amazing west coast ‘feather bed’ coastal peat bog/swamp. This is a vast moss and peat bed which stretches for much of the west coast up to a kilometer or so inland from the coast, and is soft, squishy, and very wet underfoot. When walking on it, if you are lucky, your boot stays on top of the surface, and you feel the ripples of the ‘quaking bog’ underfoot as it depresses and supports the weight on the wet substrate. If not, your boot sinks through up to calf … knee … thigh … and you crawl out on all fours. Fortunately you don't go any further down though! This is where Macca really earns its title of ‘the big green sponge’. Fortunately also, the track to the cave is nearly all along the rocky coastline!

The impressive sea cave is located within a relict coastal sea stack or ‘rock stack’ which has risen out of the sea as the island has steadily risen over the last 800,000 years.

Thanks Evelyn and Sean for the great pictures!

A map showing route on Macca
Evelyn and Sean's route to Aurora cave
(Photo: Evelyn Sandoval)
View across flat grassy landscape
A view across the coastal featherbed
(Photo: Sean Reynolds)
Landscape view of expeditioner looking along coast
Sean on the west coast
(Photo: Sean Reynolds)
Looking across featherbed and coastal rockstacks to escarpment
Looking across featherbed and coastal rockstacks to escarpment
(Photo: Sean Reynolds)
Expeditioner walking on featherbed country
Sean on the featherbed
(Photo: Evelyn Sandoval)
Giant petrel in flight
Giant petrel in flight
(Photo: Sean Reynolds)
Giant petrel in tussock grass
Giant petrel in tussock grass
(Photo: Sean Reynolds)
Three elephant seals in a huddle
Elephant seals embracing
(Photo: Sean Reynolds)
The Aurora cave rock stack
The Aurora cave rock stack
(Photo: Sean Reynolds)
Entering Aurora cave
Entering Aurora cave
(Photo: Sean Reynolds)

Fire team training

Our wintering expeditioners are trained to comprise the station fire team. This training consists of a one week intensive fire fighting and rescue course conducted by TasFire in Hobart during our pre-departure training. This is then followed by regular exercises on the island in order to maintain our competencies.

Last week, fire chief/supervising communications technical officer Scotty (who actually is an ex-professional fire officer) and alternate fire chief Ryan conducted a station fire team training session. Building services supervisor Graeme started a simulated fire in the science building plant room, set off the station fire alarms, and then played a smoke incapacitated casualty.

The fire team responded promptly, and the first responders in breathing apparatus, lead by multi-talented chef Benny, performed a flawless rescue, followed by fire containment and extinguishment. Doc Meg then took over and supervised evacuation of the ‘casualty’ to the medical facility.

Fire fighting team attending to an expedioner on a stretcher
Doc Meg tends to Graeme after extraction of the ‘casualty’, as part…
(Photo: Ivor Harris)
Fire chief Scotty supervises procedures
Fire chief Scotty supervises procedures
(Photo: Ivor Harris)
Expeditioner on stretcher surrounded by fire team during training exercise
‘Casualty’ Graeme being recovered from the scene of the fire, as part…
(Photo: Ivor Harris)
Two expeditioners in fire gear recover a ‘casualty’ on a stretcher, as part of the training exercise
Ryan, Graeme and Scotty, during the fire training exercise
(Photo: Ivor Harris)
Graeme, on stretcher, being attended toby Ryan (protecting for a possible ‘neck injury’) as part of fire training exercise
Graeme receives tender loving care friom Ryan (protecting for a possible ‘neck…
(Photo: Ivor Harris)

Haircuts on Macca!

Another pre-departure training course for some (comprising one day at the Hobart TAFE hairdressing school) is hairdressing.

Plumber Greg, who did the course, recently demonstrated his impressive prowess. Mind you, ‘selfies’ probably are not a great form of competency assessment!

Greg with hair
Greg...before
(Photo: Graeme Freeman)
The haircut in action
The haircut in action
(Photo: Graeme Freeman)
The finished haircut
The finished haircut
(Photo: Graeme Freeman)
The finished haircut
No further comment needed
(Photo: Graeme Freeman)
Two expeditioners play chess
Pete and Scotty playing off to determine Greg's next hairdressing customer...loser is…
(Photo: Graeme Freeman)
This page was last modified on 16 December 2010.