Cruise ships, a theatre exercise and a brewing competition.

The cruise ship season

Macquarie Island is being visited by a record number of cruise ships this season — 15 visits by 4 different ships.

All ships spend one to two days at Macca. Their first visit is usually to the Isthmus, where up to 7 station guides lead groups of 15 around the station and surrounds. However, Sandy Bay is usually the highlight. Here guests can roam at will amongst king and royal penguins, and, if they’re lucky, get crawled on by curious elephant seal weaners. Some of the ships also do zodiac cruises at Lusitania Bay (a huge king penguin colony), but we don’t generally assist in those operations.

As a TASPAWS volunteer guide, I’ve guided almost all of the visits so far. The first ship was both exciting and slightly unnerving — we hadn’t seen people from the outside world for almost three months! Now that we’re well into the season, it’s like welcoming back old friends, and after two intense days it’s always sad to see them go.

Each ship has a slightly different flavour. The ice-strengthened sister ships, the Akademik Shokalskiy and Spirit of Enderby, which carry a maximum of 50 guests, are always brimming with very avid birders and professional photographers. The former Russian icebreaker, Kapitan Khlebnikov, is decked out with a lot of extras for its 100 guests (such as a couple of nine-seater helicopters), while the purpose-built Orion, which also caters for 100 people, very much has an air of luxury about it.

As Macca guides we get quite a few ‘perks’ in exchange for our hospitality. For example, a few weeks ago Bree, Eve and I got our hair cut on the Orion, free of charge. We also often get invited for lunch or dinner, sometimes both — ship guests watch on in fascination as we head straight to the fruit bowl/salad bar. On a few occasions we’ve even stayed the night.

The most rewarding part, however, is getting to meet some genuinely lovely and talented people — both among the expedition crew and guests. Their excitement is contagious, and for me it’s like reliving my own first day on the island. I’ve also seen how the island can change people — some are moved to tears. I know they’ll go back home and tell everyone about how special Macquarie Island is.

By Claudia Babirat

A theatre exercise

The theatre team were again put through their paces by Dr Eve.

Resusci Wally was subjected to a variety of procedures as the anaesthetic team practised everything from setting up the theatre, checking all the machines that go ping and preparing anaesthetic medications. Meanwhile the scrub team scrubbed and then counted their way through an array of instruments, prepped, draped, and then counted everything all again to ensure nothing was missing.

All went well, and here’s to hoping Annie/Wally is the only one ever subjected to our ministrations.

The 2011 Macquarie Island brewing competition

Harking back to the times of yore,
Where the beer was great and did not bore.
The brewmaster invited the local townsfolk
To try their hand, and thus he spoke:
“Rally, my friends, use your head
For brewing this beer in my stead."
And lo, the people answered the call
To brew a special beer for all.

When the MIPEP crew returned at the end of November and all were on station, teams of 2 or 3 (and some individuals) colluded together to make some wonderful and not so wonderful experimental beers. The beers were bottled and ready for taste testing as a start to the New Year’s Eve celebrations.

There were eight beers in total:

P22, a ginger beer with cinnamon, cloves and cardamom added. Made by Tim the seal researcher and named after an unruly male fur seal.

BDTS, a black and tan by Back Door the hunter, made from stout and draught with spearmint added to it.

BDTL, a black and tan by Back Door, from stout and draught with liquorice added.

Macca Merry Beer, a lager with a special mix of berries and spice — for the Christmas spirit — made by Claudia, Nancye and Dana.

Tama’s Brew, a lager with citrus flavours added and made by Doggo, named after his dog Tama.

BCB, a stout with blackcurrant juice added made by Stumpy and Captain.

T&E, a stout by Tony and Eve with black jellybeans that give an extra kick.

SSM1, the entry made by our illustrious Comms Techs Dan and Trevor. A larger that also had citrus flavours added… in the form of concentrated cordials and essences.

The judges: Julia the Alby researcher, Col the Electrician, Danny the Chef and Leon the Met Tech (brewmaster); were given a blind tasting of each beer and simply gave a score out 10, along with tasting notes for each of the brews. The lucky winners would be given the prize of a cooked breakfast by the judges.

In third place, with a score of 28, was BDTS. This beer was said to have a good taste, be very complex, but lacking in aroma.

Second place, on a score of 30, went to P22. The ginger ninja has slipped and skidded his way past the field with his special blend of spices and a great head. One judge went on to say that it was “the best ginger beer I’ve had.”

And in first place, on 32 points, winners of the 2011 Macca Brewing Competition, were the head hunters Stumpy and Captain (Pete P and Pete K) and their stout BCB. This stout was said to be interesting yet different, bitter and with coffee flavours too.

The two Petes arrived in the mess on Monday for a delicious breakfast, although both had to be reminded by the judges and they ate almost an hour apart from each other.