At Macquarie Island, we carry on with vital work including pest eradication, bird census, hut maintenance, remediation and taking photos of all the amazing creatures and landscapes that make this place so unique.

Macquarie Island Pest Eradication Project

Another month is about to end for the hunting team as they will soon make their way back to station mid next week for their end of month break. It’s been a mixed month of activities as they have been able to assist the rangers with the skua census and the comms team at Mt Waite and Mt Jeffryes repeater sites whilst at all times looking for any signs of rabbits.

Steve has been busy visiting all the huts to complete the annual food and supplies stocktake and checking the ‘use by’ and ‘best by’ dates on all food stocks. On his return to station, this very long and important list will be compiled and sent off to head office. Our friends at head office will review what ‘top up’ supplies each hut requires and will send the new stock down on the Aurora Australis in March 2013.

Ranger in Charge

Rockhopper penguins are now sitting on eggs so Richard and Paul are conducting surveys in some of the Rockhopper colonies. Richard’s working on the colonies south of Green Gorge whilst Paul is working on the colonies to the north. A subset of all of the colonies are being surveyed and the number of penguins sitting on eggs are counted. 

Richard has also been undertaking some field familiarisation with new expeditioners. This involves an overnight trip down the island to show the expeditioners the field huts and some of the AAD hut, radio and field procedures as well as a familiarisation with the landscape and the animals. It’s a pleasant task for both Richard and expeditioners. 

Paul’s been getting ready to do some track work and spent a day getting materials and tools ready to complete the tourist’s viewing platform at Sandy Bay and install some new planking on the nearby Brothers Point jump up. Fortunately a boat trip to Hurd Point had been organised and Paul was lucky enough to get on board and save a considerable amount of work by delivering the materials to site via boat. By Paul Black


Quite a lot of activity ‘off station’ this week as we packed up our three boats with much needed supplies and fuel and headed to Hurd Point. Our coxswains Jaimie, Greg and Gaz were supported by crew Maria, Jane, Pete, Ray, Charles, Paul and Pete. Whilst at Hurd Point, Ray our electrician was able to complete a number of important repairs to the wind turbine. Tom, already at Hurd Point, was busy installing a vent to the hut. When that job was completed, he hitched a ride in one of the IRBs to Waterfall Bay hut for more hut maintenance work. A big thanks to Jack, currently residing at Hurd Point, for his assistance from the shore.


Albatross research

The albatross researchers, Anna and Jaimie, have returned from the southern reaches of Macquarie Island brandishing gold! Albatross gold. The diet of several seabird species, including Macquarie Island’s four species of albatross, is being investigated by seabird ecologists at the Australian Antarctic Division. This is achieved by analysing the DNA of prey species found in the faeces of the albatross. Being a part of a large scale diet analysis of Antarctic and sub-Antarctic species has got Macca’s Alby researchers very excited and they have been working extremely hard to unlock the secrets of the albatross through their poo! Unfortunately their quest for gold often leaves them covered in it.

This week, Anna and Jaimie have been working their way around the island spending much of their time looking at the breeding of light-mantled albatross. Exciting news has come with two sooties (as they are affectionately known) found in Gadgets Gully that were banded in 1971 as adults, making them at least 45 years old! At the southern end of the island a black-browed albatross was found with a band that has come from the Museum of Paris, most likely banded on Iles Kerguelen. The band information has been sent to the museum to confirm the bird’s origin. We eagerly await a reply. This is the second French black-brow recorded breeding on Macquarie Island. With the help of MIPEP hunters, three grey-headed albatross have been found nesting in two new locations: Cape Star and Caroline Point. This could be due to better nesting habitat in these areas or expansion of the main breeding colony.

Jaimie and Anna


This week has seen the remediation team of Charles and Lauren pick up their shovels and do what they know how to do best: dig. Every season the remediation program collects soil samples at different depths to determine the hydrocarbon and nutrient concentrations. These are then used to develop soil profiles and monitor the progress of the remediation at both sites. The soil samples this week were collected at shallow depths, 30 — 40cm, and will be sent back to Kingston at the end of the summer field season for nutrient analysis. This will allow the baseline nutrient concentrations to be determined prior to the addition of nutrient in the form of fertiliser. This is scheduled in to occur in coming days.

This week also saw Charles, along with Greg from comms, head out for field familiarisation training with Head Ranger Richard. The party of three headed to Brothers Point for the first night and then onto Green Gorge. Charles then got his first windy Macca experience by returning to station via the over land track on the plateau, a challenge he thoroughly loved by all accounts. With Charles out in the field, this left Lauren to fly solo where she focussed on getting the nutrient calibration standards prepared, run and checked. It is hoped that the team will commence the analysis of the baseline water samples they have collected. 

Lauren Wise


All creatures, great and small.


Moments in Time

Extracts from old station logs : 

26th November, 1964

0630 rose. Cool, strong west wind at times, rain late PM. OIC cleared old timber packing case etc from surgery area to rubbish tip, good sked with VJ3E at 1300 hours, proceeded then to Gadgets Gully inspected intake tank (all OK) water running in Gully only mere trickle hence low pressure at station, inspected seal pups in pound and seal tank base which has been invaded by pups and is now naturally covered on one side by quite a lot of sand, returned to station dug sand away from lee side of stores.  Reception “Calling Antarctica” good record played for Lodwick, birthday call for Barrat. Bed 10pm.

23rd November, 1976

Nella sighted 0230  — cruised offshore until 0600 — 0800 larcs in with leader A Humphrey and Mail — unloading commences with barge bringing in Austin Weston mobile crane and backhoe, some concrete mix also. Quite a tiring day — fuel line out all night, terry on shift fuelling until 2400 hrs. Tony to 0200, myself from 0200 to 0600.

1st May 1996

All station activities came to a halt at 1030 when, like people all over Tasmania and elsewhere observed one minute’s silence as a mark of respect, sorrow and sympathy for the victims and survivors of the tragic Port Arthur massacre a few days ago. The wind and rain provided a sombre background as we stood in the compound with heads bowed, with our own thoughts on this senseless act.

The mess was declared finished today — we have all had a hand in the work and whose results we can all take pride. Mess completion was celebrated by the first dinner in the new mess coinciding with an enthusiastic meeting of the Wednesday Winter Wine Club, and use of the pool table moved in (with difficulty) from Sealers’ Inn, and newly erected dartboard. Details of the festivities need not be recorded beyond saying that swims were enjoyed both in the plunge pool and garden cove. And that all eleven men on station (women escaped!) voluntarily and entirely shaved their heads. As one observed, from now on internal memos will begin ‘Dear Conehead’ and end ‘signed Conehead’.