This week at Macquarie Island: MIPEP ‘mail', a special ANARE hut relic, wandering albatross, a search and rescue drill, a huge living road block, jolly to Lusitania Bay, Ralph the sea lion makes another appearance and there are more gorgeous wildlife and landscape photos to behold.

Macquarie Island Pest Eradication Project

Twelve hunters will return to station on Wednesday 29th August after spending a month in the field. There’s been numerous highlights for the hunters: the constant changing weather and the chance to experience a few sunny calm days, the slow return of the spring wildlife (the big beachmasters), the nightly bingo competition which is close to producing a winner and the opportunity of receiving mail from home.

Receiving mail is a real morale booster for those in the field for lengthy periods of time. Mail from the mainland (Australia and New Zealand) is sent to the station leader via email, the SL prints the letter and seals it in an envelope and the mail is then delivered via whoever next leaves station. Sometimes the mail delivery service here is quicker than back home. The mailman doesn’t have to worry about cranky dogs and there’s always an offer of a coffee when the postman drops by.

We have also been asked what the bingo winner will receive as a prize. We’re hoping a car sponsor will come forward within the next week. If you own a car yard and you’re reading this newsletter can we please have two new cars?! One for the bingo winner and the other for the newsletter editor.

Another fun and slightly challenging activity the team was involved in last week was a SAR (search and rescue) exercise. Keep reading for more on this.

Ranger in Charge

Richard, the Ranger in Charge, has been out on his monthly round-island-trip this week, checking on the six wandering albatross and completing various jobs. Works include checking for new grey petrel breeding areas, laying chicken wire on boardwalks to improve track safety, undertaking bird counts and reporting on wildlife observations such as branded/tagged seals.

The grey petels continue to increase in range with new nests recorded over the month by MIPEP hunters and the RIC. The MIPEP staff are an invaluable asset in finding new bird breeding areas as they search for rabbit and rodent sign. Such is their commitment to the conservation of the island, many MIPEP staff have assisted in wildlife monitoring and other work in their limited recreational time on station. This experience has helped them identify active burrows and ‘get their eye in’ when searching the vast escarpments in the field.

Search and rescue exercise

On Friday 17th August we conducted a search and rescue exercise which involved all personnel on the island.

Although everyone knew we were going to conduct an exercise, we kept the day and time a secret. At 6:45am Kelly departed her hut and by 8am she positioned herself just north of Prion Lake and pressed the help button on her SPOT tracker. Kelly then made herself comfortable and warm as she knew she was going to be there for quite some time. Station was soon alerted to the ‘help’ call via email and our comms team immediately tried to make contact with Kelly.

We had asked Kelly not to respond to any calls but to wait and see how long it would take before a team was by her side to assist. The SAR management team met soon after we were alerted to the problem and plans were soon put into place. Just prior to 10am, Kelly had Jack and Dana by her side. Due to her multiple injuries, others were required and a few hours later Garry, Dave, Richard, Cam, Steve and Lauren arrived with medical kits, tents and a stretcher. By 3pm Kelly had ‘recovered’ from her ‘ordeal’ and walked back to her hut for a warm drink and a decent hut meal.

The exercise was an outstanding success thanks to all involved.


Two thirds of our trades team (Jim and Ray) left station during the week for Bauer Bay and Brothers Point. Their mission, once they stopped chatting to one of the locals (Gunny) and passed by some big obstacles (a beachmaster), their aim was to repair or replace the wind turbines at both huts. Hopefully when repaired we’ll use less fuel to run the huts.


Trip to Lusitania Bay, on the road and at the huts

Last week Maria, Mango and Mel were fortunate with the weather heading south to Lusitania Bay and back again. Following are a few photos taken on the road of the trip down and back.

Along the way, we were treated to right royal hospitality by MIPEPpers Cameron and Kelly at Green Gorge hut, and by Lauren at Waterfall Bay hut, with fresh bread and three-course meals!

The differences in space and style between the Canadian-built, wooden hut at Green Gorge, and the fibreglass googie hut at Waterfall Bay, gives some idea of the variety of the accommodation to be found on the island. It’s great to have such facilities available for everyone to use for work and leisure.

Mel Van Twest

Other social activities during the week (pictured below) : Gus goes for his daily swim and boy does he love it, Ralph the Hooker Seal gets past our closed gate to see who he can tease (this week it was Narelle and Maria), and Cam enjoys a big Sunday cook up at Bauer Bay Hut with pineapple pancakes, yummmm. And from a few weeks ago, Karen and Jane in the chippies workshop making a few ‘things'.

Moments in time

Lusi Bay colony and oiling site

by Mel Van Twest

Around Macquarie Island are a number of Special Management Areas, or SMAs, which open and close at various times of year to protect wildlife populations during their breeding seasons. One such SMA, around Lusitania Bay on the south-eastern coast, closes next month.

Lusitania Bay is the site of the largest King penguin colony on the island, some 50,000 birds (the counting of which is slowly sending the RIC crazy — see last week), which makes for a big noise, mess and experience!

The colony was also the reason why, around 120 years ago, Lusitania Bay was selected as a site for oiling operations. Remnants of the oiling works, the digester and boilers and the living quarters for the men who lived in this remote spot, still remain despite the years, the weather and the incessant tramp of penguin feet.

Heritage evaluation of this site and others around the island is important to keep an eye on what it happening to the remains of human activity on Macca.


by Mel Van Twest

Around two years after the first ANARE (now AAD) station was established on Heard Island, followed in the next season by the station that still exists on Macca, an old aircraft engine crate was shipping in to act as a field hut for researchers and expeditioners at the southern end of the island.

Erected in 1950, the Lusitania Bay hut was in constant use until 1994, when it was abandoned due to an expanding penguin colony in favour of a new ‘googie’ hut at Waterfall Bay.

Although everything of use and value was stripped out at the time, the hut itself remains as a testament to the founding days of ANARE, though it is increasingly vulnerable to weather and encroaching vegetation.

In this remote (even for Macca) place, very little can be done to protect and maintain it and there is some hope and plan to remove it for its heritage value, though this of course requires time, effort and money.