Updates on the usual work at Macca include a report on endemic orchids, photos of a very large yet acrobatic elephant seal and more of the same which is never ordinary.

Macquarie Island Pest Eradication Project

A big welcome back to station all the hunters and their dogs after another busy month in the field. The team returned to station late Wednesday 28 November for a team meeting and will return to their designated blocks on 4 December. The weather has certainly improved over the past month which makes hunting slightly more pleasant with the summer weather approaching. We’d like to emphasis the word ‘slightly’ — it’s still wild, windy and cold but at least there’s more blue skies.

What is the team focusing on right now? Chris Cringle and what to make their chosen colleague for Christmas.

Ranger In Charge

Endemic Vegetation


There are two known orchids on Macquarie Island and both came into flower over the past month, both are very small and highly localised.  

The greener orchid, aptly named the windswept helmet-orchid, Nematoceras (Corybas) dienemum, can be found very close to the Bauer Bay hut. It is only found on Macquarie Island (endemic) and is listed nationally as critically endangered.

The grooved helmet-orchid, Nematoceras sulcatum, is a dark red orchid found in the Green Gorge area. It is listed as an endangered species in Tasmania and is also endemic to Macquarie Island. 

Both at Bauer Bay and Green Gorge there are populations of orchids that had chicken wire enclosures built around parts of the population in the mid 2000s to limit the impact rabbit browsing was having on the species. 

Another plant that has recently come into flower is the endemic Pleurophyllum hookeri.  This megaherb has irregular flowering with as little as two percent of plants flowering in some years, while in other years all mature plants flower. Unfortunately this year it appears the number is closer to the former.


Our focus for the week on station involved installing a new UPS in comms, electrical tagging and testing, repairs to a leaking dam, gas bottle change-overs, stock-takes and reorders, mechanical maintenance, replacing timber walkways around station and finally looking at ways to encourage cheeky high-climbing elephant seals to stay on ‘their’ side of the fence.


The albatross team of Jaimie and Anna are currently out in the field. They have continued making their way south to Hurd Point, where they are currently conducting nest checks at their light-mantled sooty albatross study sites on the east coast to determine breeding adults through band reading. A more detailed account of their progress will be given when the team get back to station around mid-December.

This week has been all about nutrients for the remediation team. Good weather earlier this week allowed Charles to make a start on the addition of liquid nutrient/fertiliser to the fuel farm remediation site. The addition of nutrient increases the concentration of nitrogen and phosphate in the ground which is essential for microbial activity. Increasing the levels of these nutrients to just the right amount elevates microbial activity and increases bioremediation. However the weather isn’t always that kind at Macca and the windy and wet days has allowed Charles to discover the vast remediation supplies by making a start on the inventory.

Whilst Charles has been busy out in the field, Lauren has opened the lab for business, commencing on the analysis of the baseline water samples for nutrients and extraction of water samples for hydrocarbon determination. Analysis of this first round of samples gives an idea of the nutrient concentrations at the start of the season and should be complete by early next week in time to start round two of the water sampling post nutrient addition. The water extracts for hydrocarbon analysis will be analysed on return to Kingston following voyage four (V4).


All creatures, great and small


Moments in Time

From old station logs…

Saturday 5th December 1964 :

4:15am rise cool but fine, strong west winds. Rough seas. Officer in Charge RTA packing, now all completed by noon, Walkem pumped diesel fuel, Taylor and Hague cleaning kitchen cupboards. King service to radio transmitter. Met section had fault in screen, Stair ably fixed same. Calwell painting in mess. “Working Bee” all hands during PL. Cleaned and scrubbed mess, dongas, piano, radio-gram. Peterson then painted mess radiogram, Dart polished piano. Good sked for OIC with Nella Dan, spoke to Dr Law and Doug Twigg. Nice evening meal served by Hague, wine with dinner, beer issue and pictures “Lovely To Look At” nor for OIC, busy office paper work. Bed 10pm.

20th November, 1976:

Find clear day — some light rain and mist early — Fred and Chas complete first half of P.H ceiling, Joe cleaning up western beach, frank busy preparing ‘end of year’ dinner which turned out to be quite a pleasant occasion with rounds of toasts to the various sections and individuals who have contributed to the years operation. Neither Ken nor Joe attended as has been this practice on such party nights. Boys presented me with a hand crafted slide box with elephant seal tooth inlay which was an unexpected and pleasant surprise.

Wednesday 17th April 1996 :

Station Leader returned from Bauer Bay with field-trained Steve at 1300 to find mess almost completely painted and most carpentry finished. It’s looking great!

A potential crisis arose at 1650 when Sue (en route VJM — Davis Point) called in on VHF hand-held to report herself lost somewhere west of Pyramid Peak with a non-functioning compass in fog and gathering darkness. Ray at Comms called in Station Leader and Rich as SAR Leader and we advised her to walk downwind to either find a marked track (and to go left down it to Green Gorge), or drop into sheltered lower terrain on the east coast for the night. She had good clothing and a torch but no food. She apparently had wandered north because she struck the overland track within an hour, and got in to Green Gorge hut at 1900 where Tracy had a hot meal ready. Eddie and Bob at davis Point hut were ready to go out, and a SAR team was being planned for VJM but none of that was needed. The Wednesday Wine Club convened in the evening a little late but in an atmosphere of relief and celebration.