The designers and builders of the new Macquarie Island research station can now get a sense of space and place from the comfort of their office, thanks to a virtual tour of the current station site.

The new public interactive tour allows viewers to get an insight into life and work on the island, and provides a level of detail that will be critical to the design of the new station.

Australian Antarctic Division Strategic Infrastructure Project Lead, Travis Thom, said the virtual experience is made up of 1338 photos stitched together to form 360 degree panoramas.

“The tour transports users inside and outside the existing station buildings, onto windswept beaches, past resident wildlife and to lookouts above the station,” Mr Thom said.

“You can also get a sense of the science that’s conducted on the island by visiting places like the weather balloon release building, the clean air laboratory and the radionuclide monitoring station.”

The tour will be a valuable resource for the Managing Contractor, VEC Civil Engineering, as they lead the design and construction process.

“Only one or two resupply ships visit the station each year, so the engineers and architects will have limited opportunities to visit the island during the design period,” Mr Thom said.

“However, the tour will allow them to virtually travel to the island whenever they need to explore things in greater detail — such as understanding the current station’s configuration of rooms, specialist equipment, or furnishings.”

Macquarie Island Modernisation Project Manager, Adrian Young, said a site was recently selected for the new station, after two seasons investigating wind effects, ground conditions, coastal processes, and the potential risk of rising seas and increasing storm surge frequency.

“The current station is on the northern end of Macquarie Island on part of an isthmus that’s about 500 metres wide. This area is subject to storm surges and home to a large population of elephant seals,” Mr Young said.

“We’ve now identified a suitable new site, just south of the current station, and overlapping some of its footprint.

“The new site avoids intensive wildlife congregations, nesting areas and heritage artefacts, as well as the swampy ground nearby.

“It’s also outside the storm surge area and has good access for construction.”

Progress towards construction of a new station began in October 2016, after the Federal Government announced funding of up to $50 million.