This week at Macquarie Island: 23 August 2013

Clive and Josh head south, Craig explores the southern parts of the east coast and more amazing photos in the Macca Gallery

Clive and Josh head south

Clive and myself felt it was time to head down to the southern end of Macca to spend a couple of days at Hurd Point. Neither of us had been that far south to date and there were medical and infrastructure checks that needed to be carried out. The trip was to be over 5 nights, depending a little bit on the weather and availability of huts.

We set off on the 16th with a typical Macca send-off of driving rain and a gentle 25 knot nor-wester. The first day was a relatively easy walk as the wind shifted around behind us and after the short climb up Gadgets Gully it was all downhill to Green Gorge.

After checking that the LPG and medical supplies were in order, then me having a really cold and windy bucket shower, we spent the evening chatting to Dean. The following morning we were greeted by a foot of fresh snow on the hut, nice big surf pounding the beach in front of the hut and a healthy leopard seal 15 metres from the front door. We sat, with a cup of coffee and admired him or her until it was time to go.

We begrudgingly dragged on the wet boots again and headed off to finish the last 19km of the trip south. Again, another stunning day for walking at Macca. It was a bit cool and the snow made the walking a little tougher than normal but really gave the place a different look. We stopped in at Windy Ridge Hut for a cuppa with Nick and demolished some cookies that Leona had generously left there. Then it was off for the final 2-hour stretch to Hurd Point.

Clive and I spent the next couple of days doing our work tasks and then relaxing at Hurd Point. At the very southern tip the scenery and ocean are pretty wild and spectacular. We were even blessed with a bit of rare sunshine. The following two nights saw a competitive Scrabble tournament between Craig, Clive, Chris and myself. It was all above board apart from the doctor trying to pull the wool over our eyes by making up random words and claiming them as medical terminology or some other odd thing. We had a dictionary and were not able to be fooled. Nice try anyway from Clive.

Clive and I were fortunate enough to be escorted by Ranger Chris into the Caroline Cove SMA (Special Management Area) to do checks on the LPG appliances and the medical kit. We had a special treat of seeing a albatross chick being fed by its parent, a rare sight for anyone anywhere. To top it off we had sunshine again. This was a brilliant day thanks to the guidance of Chris. Thanks mate!

The following day it was time for Clive and myself to head back to station so off we went to Green Gorge. Somehow again we were blessed with the weather making the walking conditions really great. Upon arrival we found Green Gorge full of sleepy hunters trying to enjoy their Sunday off so we thought it best to push on to Brothers Point where we knew there was an empty hut. After a good sleep it was a relaxed walk home from Brothers and a nice end to a great trip. Thanks to all the people along the way.

By Josh Tomasetti

Josh, at the bottom of the picture, amongst the tussock, next to a large rock stack, with the calm ocean in the background
Josh on his walk
(Photo: Josh Tomasetti)
Leopard seal, lying on its side on a snow covered beach at Green Gorge
Leopard seal at Green Gorge
(Photo: Josh Tomasetti)
Josh, in all his cold weather gear and carrying his survival pack, standing on the snow covered track. Behind him is a lake and snow covered hills beyond
En route to Hurd Point
(Photo: Clive Strauss)
Josh walking along the track which is covered in snow. Behind him are snow covered hills
Wonderland of snow
(Photo: Clive Stauss)
A snow covered scene, taken from the track. The small Endeavour Lake is down the gentle slope and the ocean can be seen beyond
Endeavour Lake en route to Hurd Point
(Photo: Josh Tomasetti)
Big surf can be seen breaking on a rocky coastline near Hurd Point
Awesome Hurd Point swell
(Photo: Josh Tomasetti)
Inside Hurd Point hut — shows ranger Chris working in the kitchen, while Craig can be seen pouring water from a kettle into a mug on the oval table. Clive is standing behind the table
Hurd Point hut
(Photo: Josh Tomasetti)
The steep slope of the Hurd Point jump up seen for somewhere on Hurd Point. Hurd Point hut can be seen dwarfed at the base of the slope. There is some snow still visible on the hills above the jump up slope
Hurd Point jump up seen for somewhere on Hurd Point
(Photo: Josh Tomasetti)
Somewhere on Hurd Point — shows several small tarns surrounded by green vegetation with several rock stacks in the background
Hurd Point
(Photo: Josh Tomasetti)
Somewhere on Hurd Point — Josh standing in a tunnel, about two metres high by one and a half metres wide through a jagged rocky wall
Hurd Point tunnel
(Photo: Clive Strauss)
Looking from a high vantage point down the rugged tussock covered slopes to Caroline Cove and Caroline Point
Caroline Cove
(Photo: Josh Tomasetti)
Clive sitting amongst the tussock overlooking the rocky coast of Caroline Cove
Clive chillin'
(Photo: Josh Tomasetti)
Josh standing amongst the tussock with the steep rugged slopes of the escarpment in the background. There are also some impressive large pointy rock stacks in the ocean just offshore
Southern Macca
(Photo: Clive Strauss)

Craig explores the east coast

Descending the Green Gorge jump down to the coast I entered a stretch of the island I had yet had the pleasure to explore. The rugged coast revealed a small cave once used by sealers as shelter. Before long we entered tussock country and I was trying to keep pace with the little tussock hopper himself — Ranger Chris.

I was fortunate enough to be Chris’ assistant for a couple of days trekking along the southern east coast.  We were photographing king penguin chicks so that they can be counted and compared with previous seasons. Our other task was to locate Northern and Southern giant petrel colonies in preparation for the annual survey of these birds which will take place next month.

We rested up at Waterfall Bay hut before continuing the following day to Hurd Point at the southern end of the island. Overnight snowfall made for some great scenery and easier walking through the tussock. We arrived at Lusitania Bay to the site of thousands of king penguin chicks. It was a daunting task for Chris to try and photograph them all as I took notes. Luckily for us though it is still early in the season as this site is home to an estimated 100,000 birds at the peak of breeding. It is easy to see why this was the spot chosen for an oiling works back in the 1800s.

The afternoon was spent negotiating some spectacular coastline on our way to Hurd point hut where we were met by Josh and Clive (see previous story). Some award winning bread was baked and some ‘creative’ Scrabble played to round out a top day.

By Craig George

The beautiful green tinged waves of a aurora australis from Green Gorge beach
Aurora from Green Gorge beach
(Photo: Craig George)
A couple of fur seals south of Waterfall Bay, just beyond the tussock on a rocky beach
Fur seals south of Waterfall Bay
(Photo: Craig George)
Several large groups of king penguins adults and chicks near the old Lusitania Bay hut. Four wheels attached to a chassis of a wrecked Larc can also be seen on the beach. There is a light dusting of snow on the wheels and the the steep slopes behind the beach
King penguins at the old Lusitania Bay Hut
(Photo: Craig George)
Lusitania Bay king penguin colony — looking north along the beach at a mixture of hundreds of adults and chicks
Lusitania Bay king penguin colony
(Photo: Craig George)
Nine Macquarie Island shags roosting on top of a tussock covered rock stack next to the ocean
Macquarie Island shags
(Photo: Craig George)

Macca Gallery

This weeks gallery has images from around station, including the ‘large boys’ returning, the sunshine and a view from North Head. Josh also contributes some great pictures of his walk to the southern end of the island.

View along West Beach — taken from a low position showing in the foreground, the lichen covered pebbles above the high tide mark and the snow covered slopes of the escarpment in the background
West Beach
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)
Surf at Caroline Cove, being windswept by an offshore breeze
Surf at Caroline Cove
(Photo: Josh Tomasetti)
View from the Overland track featuring Major Lake about six kilometres south of Green Gorge
Major Lake
(Photo: Josh Tomasetti)
Reflections in a wallow pond near the science building on station. The view is towards the south and one of the Magnetic quiet zone huts can be seen in the distance, while reflections of the tussock can be seen on both sides of the pond and the distant mist shrouded escarpment in the background
Reflections in a wallow
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)
The return of the big boys — a large elephant seal seal with dark colouring, near the ANARE sat dome and Communications building
The return of the big boys
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)
A large rock stack covered in patches of moss, outlined by the beautiful blue of the sky. There is patches of high, white cloud
Moss and sky
(Photo: Josh Tomasetti)
En route to Hurd Point — shows a view of the many snow covered hills and valleys on the way to Hurd Point
En route to Hurd Point
(Photo: Josh Tomasetti)
Craig, dressed in all the protective safety clothes, including goggles and gloves, releasing the large weather balloon with a ozone sonde attached. It is a bright sunny morning, highlighting the colours of the escarpment in the background
Release of the ozone sonde balloon
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)
A large elephant seal lies on the rocky east beach. A little further up the beach a mottled silver and grey leopard seal can be seen. The escarpment slopes to the beach in the background, with the Nuggets seen on the horizon
Two types of seals on east beach
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)
The rugged steep slopes of the escarpment meet with the sea in the southern part of the west coast. The jagged peaks of large rock stacks can be seen just offshore
Rugged southwestern coast
(Photo: Josh Tomasetti)
A photo taken underwater somewhere in the south of the island. It shows red coloured kelp clinging to a pink coloured rock face
(Photo: Josh Tomasetti)
View to the south from the Wireless Hill track. Aaron is foreground, negotiating the steep track. Behind him you can see the station and the isthmus and the escarpment up to the plateau in the background
View to the south from the Wireless Hill track
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)