At Macquarie Island, the work never stops. This week, the crew collects an alarming amount of debris that has washed up on the island. There are also updates on the usual work activities, a report on a hertiage survey and photos of baby seals. Enough said.

Macquarie Island Pest Eradication Project

The team arrived back on station on Thursday 27th September for what seemed like a few brief days but it was a little longer than what it appeared. They departed on Wednesday 3rd Oct for the start of another month of hunting rabbits.

During their time on station they attended a team meeting, participated in search and rescue training, medical training and when the official duties were completed the team settled in for some R&R. Numerous movies and grand finals were watched, daily emails and phone calls back home were made and some are now starting to look at ‘What’s next after Macca’ trawling through job sites getting an idea on what positions are available for when their contract ends at the beginning of March.

This month Dave S (with dogs Wags and Tamar), Kelly and Lauren are based on station. That means a cooked meal and a shower every night.

Ranger In Charge

Marine debris is a significant threat to wildlife at Macquarie Island. Rangers and expeditioners are working to collate all materials in caches around the island to be transported back to Australia for recycling. The recording of caches continues, however to date the amount of litter in caches includes:

  • 84 buoys
  • 121 plastic bottles
  • 16 items of rope or net
  • Six 44 gallon steel drums
  • 26 Floats
  • Three Steel gas bottles and
  • Eight garbage bags of plastic rubbish

This rubbish is aside from the monthly recording and removal of marine debris from Bauer Bay. During September, 360 items of rubbish were removed from Bauer Bay Beach alone. Of these, 217 items were green twine thought to be used in a type of longline fishing not undertaken in Australian waters off Macquarie Island. It also contained 96 items of hard plastic, a balloon fragment and a squid jig.

Works will continue to identify and rationalise caches and bag materials ready for IRB or helicopter transport as logistics, weather and breeding wildlife permit.

Search and Rescue Training

Following on from the search and rescue exercise held in the field on the 17th August where the team was required to retrieve and attend to an injured expeditioner half way down the island, this exercise was designed to test the performance of the ‘wheeled’ stretcher. The team also spent a few hours on a steep slope refreshing their rope rescue system skills.

SAR Leader Mango is a very thorough and safety conscious trainer. The training provided was designed to be realistic and we also know the team enjoyed the change of scenery (particularly as it was a sunny, windless day).


Some of the fun things we were focused on during the week: 

  • Monthly fire alarm and fire exit signs testing
  • Test UPS to Meteorology office
  • Retile floors in Garden Cove bathroom, toilets and passage way
  • Remove paintwork, sand and oil timber window in science building
  • Service to post mix machine
  • Change air filters to heaters in mess and mechanical workshop
  • Reorders
  • Check MPH after power outage
  • Compressor servicing
  • Refuel settling
  • Science tanks
  • Check fuel farm tanks for smart arm fitment
  • Fuel farm maintenance including check and clean pump house filter
  • Preparation for Mt Waite install, reprogrammed all handheld radios, reconn to Mt Jeffryes repeater, network maintenance tasks
  • Sorted through a very large wooden crate full of batteries which are all now separated and labeled correctly ready to be returned to Australia
  • Completed audit on UAM (Unusual Animal Mortality) kit


On Saturday evening, our official end of winter dinner was held. It’s hard to believe we are halfway through our contract period and in three weeks we’ll see our first of many ships arrive for the season. The L’Astrolabe is due to arrive at Macca on the 26th October bringing with her six summer personnel and one ton of cargo. Our end of winter dinner was brought forward a few weeks to coincide with the MIPEP team return to station.

With six expeditioners arriving we will also say goodbye to Mango (Comms Tech Officer, SAR Leader and Fire Team Member) who leaves us on the same ship. However, before heading home, Mango will go via Dumont d'Urville (French Station, Antarctica) and will cross 60 degrees south for the first time by ship.

Word of Mango’s crossing spread and sparked the interest of the King!

And who do you think turned up after dinner? King Neptune himself to perform his famous ceremony.

This ceremony goes back many, many years to when ships (from most nations) first started crossing the Equator and into the southern Antarctic waters. It involves all those who have not previously ‘Crossed the Line’ by sea (the line being the Equator or 60 degrees south, or have no appropriate certificate to prove their crossing). They are required to go before the Court of Neptune, where their sins are read out, and the punishments bestowed.

On the arrival of King Neptune, all those uninitiated travelers heading south (Mango) were requested to report to the King. Mango needed no encouragement when he was asked to kneel before the King and kiss his “Kipper” (the King was unable to find a fish so he used a prawn head instead). When the prawn was kissed, the King covered Mango in slop, a foul mixture of unknown ocean ingredients. Most people try and avoid King Neptune but for Mango he was a proud and willing participant.

Mango has now, in advance, officially “paid humble and due honour to his passage” and as soon as he ‘Crosses the Line’ it will all become official. Mango was presented with a King Neptune ‘Crossing the Line’ certificate in a spectacular handmade wooden frame (by Jim).

On behalf of everyone on station: “Thank you Mango, for your friendship, your positive energy, hard work, your wonderful easy going helpful personality and the training you provided the team. We wish you and Monica an enjoyable journey home.”


Moments In Time

Extracts from Old Station Logs

Friday 3rd October 1979

Light southerly winds. Boat trip to Bauer aborted after striking strong southerly winds, 4m seas off Eagle Caves. 3 boats returned safely. Approval given to Karen to enter the Petrel Peak area. Fire alarm 14.50. This one was genuine — welding sparks caught alight drop sheets in Dieso’s. Fire controlled locally by extinguisher. Lots of smoke, only damage was a large drop sheet totally burnt. Everyone accounted for at muster.

Tuesday 9th October, 1984

Slushy again — for the last time. Telexes about change over details coming in at a great rate now, including passenger lists etc. The first of the annual reports has also come in — Roger’s Radio Technical report. Gale force winds all day, gusts up to over 60 knots.

Packed sleeping bags to go to the field hits and burnt off some more contaminated fuel. The ban by Radio Operators is still on, and surprisingly, a message of support has gone out to them from the Director. Station meeting in the evening to set time-table for the next few days until the Nella Dan arrives.

Wednesday 7th October, 1992

No leopard seal sighted.  Isthmus female ellies census:

East Coast — 909

West Coast — 1915

Total 2824

Weaner pups — east coast (4). West Coast (7)…total 11

Station Leader distributed IASOS questionnaires on Women’s Role in Antarctica. Station Leader and John bar-coding groups 1, 11, 27, 14, and 17. Brendon returned from Caroline Cove in 9 1/2 hours.  Chicken casserole or fish for dinner, cream buns for dessert. The evening movie was “Hot Summers Night” starring Leslie Neilson.

Heritage Survey

In mid September I put aside my doctorly duties and assumed my other role of resident archaeologist for a heritage survey trip to Hurd Point and Caroline Cove.

Both sites were once utilised for oil harvesting from elephant seals and penguins in the early 19th century. Hurd Point was used again at the turn of the century for a more technologically advanced digester plant, with workers living in a hut nearby.

The Hurd Point heritage site is now part of the enormous royal penguin rookery so it was important to get in and out before the penguins started arriving and nesting. The site is quite complex, with remains of a trypot series as well as the digester and boiler which have fallen over and rolled a little way towards the beach.

At Caroline Cove, penguins roost in the hills around the beach, but the main feature is a giant petrel colony nearby, one of the reasons access to the Cove is restricted. The trypots known to be located here have unfortunately been buried by one of the landslips which are common to the area, but at least they will be protected until time or tide reveals them once again.

Along the way, it was also great to see some of the local wildlife, particularly the newborn elephant seal pups, who set new standards in cuteness.

The weather was somewhat challenging during the trip with a head wind going both south AND north, plus lots of snow on day three. But it was all worth it for the sunshine at Caroline Cove and the chance to investigate the island’s history.

Many thanks to Richard for permission to go to Caroline Cove and making sure I got there and back in one piece!

Mel Van Twest