Winter repairs for comms. Ele seal fence at Green Gorge and this week’s Macca Gallery.

Winter Repairs for Comms

Cool snowing conditions were experienced on Macca last month and communications equipment can suffer from wind and ice. During the heavy snow the radio repeater on Mt Waite became un-readable from base. Locally there was some coverage but the symptoms were pretty obvious, there had been some antenna damage.

Senior comms tech Bird swiftly leapt into action, aided by the Station leader Mark. The pair seized on a window of calm weather a couple of days ahead and forged, with equipment and supplies in hand, south down the Overland Track.

With the keen eye of MIPEP hunter Mike, Mark and Greg were steered to the base of Mt Waite, a monolith of grass and rock towering on the west coast of Macca. Twenty minutes later the pair deployed the “Mega bivvy” on the summit of Mt Waite. A shelter from the elements makes work possible in these conditions. While Mark cringed in the “Megga bivvy” Bird soldiered on replacing the antenna that was snapped in two.

With repairs completed and a quick lunch at Gratitude Lake shelter, a path to Davis Point Hut was plotted in the thick and dampening fog. With pigeon-like homing skills Bird navigated their path along the steep and craggy slopes of the West Coast. With only a track marker to identify the “jump down” Mark and Greg scrambled with panther-like grip, head long down the boulder-strewn creek bed to emerge victorious on their second day of a radio repair journey.

Day three saw Mark and Greg aiding our Ranger Chris and Aaron in a rubbish (marine debris) pick-up on Sandell Bay for the morning. Then a climb up the escarpment in forty plus knot winds on all fours, to Tio Hut for the night.

Freezing conditions overnight crystallised our boots and wet weather gear, made gaiters like thick cardboard and impossible to wrap around your leg. This delayed our departure to Mt Jeffryes, the next mountain in a chain of communication for the island. A quick check of the batteries and off down the track to Hurd Point. With the track crunching under foot, Mark and Greg avoided the frozen scree slope and opted for the quad burning grassy, dropping them onto the beach in front of the hut.

After a weekend rest with MIPEP members, Tom, Nancye and Ange, and fueled with Nancye’s calzone, Greg and Mark clawed their way up the “creek jump up” from Hurd to march all the way home to base arriving at 8:30pm that night. A long day but worth the experience.

Greg Bird SCTO

Seal proof-fence at Green Gorge

Elephant Seals are one of the most intriguing inhabitants of here on Macca, this small speck of dirt in the middle of nowhere. There are times when they manage to get themselves in places that may cause themselves injury or damage to buildings and huts that we need to protect.

One such place is the rear of Green Gorge hut where, in the past, several seals of larger than average size (after busting down the existing old fence) had taken up residence. There they would get stuck in between buildings, push in doors, lean against the building belching, burping, fighting, and snorting only centimetres away from sleeping expeditioners.

So over the past few days David, the carpenter, has been on the job installing a new fence for the protection of man and beast. This done with the help of Tony the chef, Dean, Billy and Nancye from MIPEP. The job that was estimated to need seven days to complete was done and dusted to a high standard in only four days. This is just in time for the main elephant seal breeding season here on the Island.

Thanks to all the helpers involved and to Jim the previous BSS for getting the gear sorted last year and organising for it to be delivered by helicopters over re-supply.

David Brett (BSS and DSL)

Macca Gallery

This week’s gallery features some more of the MIPEP dogs in wintry scenes from the plateau, a beautiful sunset, views from a boat and the seals of Macquarie Island.