Celebrating 70 years on Macquarie Island

Landing stores at Garden Bay, Macquarie Island, on 20 March 1948, with LST 3501 (left) and Wyatt Earp in the distance.
Landing stores at Garden Bay, Macquarie Island, on 20 March 1948, with LST 3501 (left) and Wyatt Earp in the distance. (Photo: Peter King)

Macquarie Island research station celebrated its 70th anniversary in March, as scoping work began for a new station on the shores of the rugged Tasmanian outpost.

The sub-Antarctic station was officially opened on 21 March 1948, with a team of 14 expeditioners staying for winter.

Prior to the station’s establishment, Macquarie Island was home to sealing gangs who harvested skins, oil and blubber, until the island was declared a sanctuary by the Tasmanian Government in 1919.

Unfortunately the sealers and other visitors brought pests to the island, in the form of rabbits, rats and mice. These were successfully eradicated in 2014 after a seven year pest eradication program.

In 2016 the Australian Government announced it would spend $50 million to build a new state-of-the-art research station on Macquarie Island. The new station is expected to be finished in 2021–22, with the decommissioning of the existing station to follow.

The primary focus of construction will be to minimise the station’s physical size, simplify and reduce long-term station maintenance, and incorporate new technologies such as automation of long-term science projects.

The sub-Antarctic island is named after an early governor of New South Wales, Lachlan Macquarie when it was discovered by sealing brig, Perseverance.

Eliza Grey
Australian Antarctic Division