Macca’s hunters return, expeditioners delicately install a window and there’s a visit from Ralph, the Hooker seal.

Macquarie Island Pest Eradication Project

On Friday 28th July the Macquarie Island Pest Eradication team (13) made their way back to station from various locations across the island. The hunters and their dogs had been away from station for five weeks and were keen to meet up, have time to relax, wash clothes and reacquaint themselves with family, partners and friends back home.

During their week on station the team spent only one day working, half of that day involved a familiarisation training session on rope rescue techniques, led by SAR (Search and Rescue Leader) Mango, with the remaining part of the day attending an end-of-month meeting with Pete (MIPEP Team Leader).

After a very social time in ‘town’ the team departed station on Friday 3rd August and won’t be seen again until the end of the month.

Ranger In Charge

Grey petrels monitoring continues with many chicks in burrows around the island.

A sooty oystercatcher, a rare visitor to Macquarie Island, was seen around the isthmus.

Boardwalking and double planking continues, when weather conditions permit, in high traffic areas to minimise environmental damage and travel times.

Northern giant petrels can be observed flying together as the spring breeding season approaches.

Expeditioners watched A Thin Green Line and had a short service as part of World Ranger Day in recognition for the 62 rangers killed around the world during the past 12 months.


Last week’s marine debris survey at Bauer Bay turned up something that wasn’t dumped from the sea. A fragment of clay pipe bowl, bearing a very clear maker’s stamp, appears to be a remnant of the sealer days, when men worked long hours with one of these continuously in their mouths.

The stamp reads ‘Ben Nevis Cutty'. Ben Nevis is the highest peak in the British Isles (a fact established in 1870) and a cutty is a short-stemmed pipe.

Some Internet research has indicated that Ben Nevis was a brand of pipe made in the village of Knockcroghery, Co. Roscommon, Ireland, which was a major pipe-making centre until it was destroyed during the Irish War of Independence in June, 1921. As this coincided with the decline of pipe-smoking, due to the increasing popularity of cigarettes, the industry was never re-established.

So it is likely that our pipe bowl was originally used by one of the men working the sealer sites of the west coast of the island, sometime between 1870 and 1921. In fact, these dates fit very well with known sealing ventures to the west coast and Bauer Bay area in 1878–9 under Captain Donald Sinclair, and the abandonment of seal and penguin oil harvesting on Macquarie Island in 1919–20 by the industrialist Joseph Hatch, after his licence to undertake such operations was cancelled.

The cessation of these operations was in large part due to pressure brought to bear on the Tasmanian Government by Sir Douglas Mawson and members of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition, who wished to see animal life on Macquarie Island preserved and protected. This later led to Macquarie Island’s very early establishment as a wildlife sanctuary in 1933 and is a fascinating early example of the conflict between environmental and economic interests, something we all read about regularly now.

So our small pipe bowl is a great reminder of the history of this island, and how that relates to its present. The pipe will be catalogued and remain on the island, and hopefully will be displayed to visitors in the small museum that is planned for the future. 

Melanie Van Twest


With 26 expeditioners on station we still managed to achieve a lot.

We managed to wake everyone up at 6am last Saturday with a fire alarm, something I think the MIPEP team would have preferred not to be involved in on their first morning back on station. The thermostat was a little too warm in the brewery and this is what caused the alarm to activate however Head Brew Master Ray believes it more likely the burglar alarm he recently installed.

General station maintenance continued throughout the week while the trades team worked together on replacing one of the old windows in the mess with a new one. The result, it’s no longer a frosty looking wall; we can now see the plateau from the dining area.  

We also conducted a workplace health and safety meeting, environment meeting and a fuel spill exercise.


Plenty of social activities were enjoyed by all during the week. With everyone back on station, the mess became a hive of activity, work experiences were shared, DVDs traded, the public phones were busy, and Maria (our chef) had plenty of help in the kitchen.

Everyone attended and enjoyed the weekend theme party. Dave B used the big screen to show everyone his photos of his work as a ranger in Canada, Jim followed a few nights later with his African experience many, many years ago and Dave and Richard organised a screening of the The Thin Green Line in support of Rangers around the globe who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

Moments in time


27th July : Chippy, Mick and Ian to Sandy Bay — Doc and Alan to handspike, me to bed I like to sleep in Sunday’s seeing you can’t go to church.

Mick painted all fire buckets and extinguishers that require it, XX slept all day… helpful sometimes as a pocket in a singlet.

1st August : Typical Antarctic day, snow and drift running through the camp. XX cooking today, he and I are daily getting closer to a show down I don’t think he realises yet he is not O.I.C. He is a great asset as well as an experienced man but I think he sees himself as OIC and he sub consciously organises people who don’t want to be organised especially when it got buggeral to do with him, never mind.


28th July : A quiet day on station and with the fine weather a few were out and about photographing. Roy and Doug went over to Aerial and Goat Bays counting fur seals. Lloyd and Lionel walked around coast of North Head to test out Lionel’s leg : all OK. The sealers had a good day weighing and vomiting seals while two of their number, Maria and Iain were in the kitchen all day. Maria cooked up a Lebanese dinner which went down very well. Jean de Floret was the Sunday movie.

Ed. note: these are actual entries from station logs and have not been altered from the original, except where noted.