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!
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.
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!