At Macca this week, the MIPEP team finda rabbit of sorts, expeditioners conduct a fire drill and more wildlife appear including adorable, fluffy gentoo chicks.

Macquarie Island Pest Eradication Project

It was Kelly’s birthday during the week and what a wonderful surprise for her when half of the MIPEP team arrived at Hurd Point hut last Saturday night to help her celebrate. She had no idea the team had planned a surprise visit and the little hut which usually sleeps four comfortably was bursting at the seams. Unfortunately we don’t have any photos of the party girl and the party YET, but when Kelly arrives back on station at the end of the month I’m sure we’ll have these published. Happy birthday Kelly! We hope you had a very special day.

Ranger In Charge

The animals return.

Over the past three weeks we have seen mass activity in the fauna of this subantarctic island. The ranger and hunters, Cameron and Dana, had two fantastic days undertaking a census of both grey headed and black browed albatross at Petrel Peak in the southwest of the island prior to the arrival of Jaimie and Anna who will be taking over census work over the summer. Many nests were located and mapped for future reference. The light-mantled sooty albatross have returned in large numbers and are courting, calling constantly and following each other in courtship displays. Royal penguins have arrived in mass numbers and colonies are quickly filling up. It is a unique experience to watch porpoising royals returning from sea making a b-line for colonies along the east and west coasts. The Hurd Point colony is the largest colony of royal penguins in the world. 

The female elephant seals are weaning pups and mating prior to going back to sea. Male ‘beachmasters’ have increased in intensity and many fighting males are now missing parts of their proboscis (elongated noses) and are bleeding from the neck and head as they fight for territory and a chance for a ‘friendly flipper’ in the harem.

The gentoo penguins have hatched chicks and provide many smiles to expeditioners working around station. The tiny grey chicks are very cute. The final species to return are the rockhopper penguins and the first was seen on the 17th October.

What an exciting time for the L’Astrolabe to arrive with new expeditioners.

On station

Matt, Macquarie Island’s Fire Chief, loves a good fake fire. After spending a considerable amount of time drawing and painting a fierce looking fire on an old sheet of plywood, he placed it alongside the boat shed, checked to ensure there were no seals and penguins close by then he hit the fire alarm.

As soon as the fire team arrived, led by Gunny (acting as Fire Chief) so too did a few male elephant seals who came from nowhere but appeared to like the sound of the fire alarm. So much so that one parked itself right next to the fire hydrant and wasn’t concerned at all with all the activity. Thankfully the ‘fire’ was extinguished very quickly and shortly after the hoses and the fake fire were packed away for another day.

You may recall last week we wrote about the leak in our dam at Gadgets Gully, the same dam which supplies our station with water. To refresh your memory, it was discovered the dam was empty (it’s not a very big dam. It doesn’t have to be. No droughts here.) so Tom and Robby walked up the gully, assessed the problem, spent most of the day removing the sludge from the bottom and repaired the leak. Thank you Robby and Tom.

Moments in Time

Extracts from old station logs

October 1984

22nd — the Nella Dan did not arrive until after lunch-time, and only managed to put ashore some key people, including Martin Betts and Phil, and the scientists who are anxious to make the most of their time here. We have arranged temporary accommodation in the gym, Sealers and the Science buildings for those who could not fit in the spare dongas and there are about 45 of us on the station now, counting the Larc Detachments. After dinner, we arranged a briefing for all those going on field trips and I hope we arranged to talk them into being reasonably careful without scaring them off completely.

October 1996

A large station population made for extra hands for Saturday duties when, in addition to the usual cleaning and garbage collecting chores, the latest batch of beer was bottled, two more workshops doors were painted, and the old hut at the transmitter aerial on Wireless Hill was retrieved from the gully (where it blew away in January) and packed for helicopter pick up.

The Light-Mantled Sooty Albatrosses are now back in force and their haunting cries are frequently heard. What lovely birds they are.  

The big event was the 60’s / 70’s party combined with Scobie Pye’s celebrations. Most personnel made an effort to dress up — Cathie as a punk with a Mohawk haircut, Dave as a rocker with a safety-pin through his nose, Dave and Tussock as soul singers, and several gurus and flower children were among the more memorable. Greetings from old friends at BAS and Ant Div were read out, gifts presented, and a very happy time was enjoyed by all.

Next day — lots of reminiscing was evident as the clean-up from the party was in progress this morning, with much amusement when Ray arrived looking very tired to discover he was on Slushy! Steady rain in the morning cleared to a bright afternoon as the wind shifted to the south. A fairly quiet day, with several people making preparations to go out tomorrow to get in position for the annual seal census on Tuesday.

Pulp Fiction shown in the evening in the mess — Slushy’s choice.


All creatures, great and small.