Chris and Patty take on heritage recovery excavation this week at Macca. There were also a couple of special birthdays and we watch a gripping FA Cup final.

It’s all about Tom in the field

MIPEP hunter Tom celebrates his birthday in the field this week. Let us have a look back at the style Tom brings to his working day on Macquarie Island.

Employed as a hunter, Tom spends his time searching for signs of the last rabbits on Macquarie Island. A number of skills are necessary to be an effective hunter on an island such as this. Firstly, it is imperative that you start the day with an accurate assessment of the weather conditions. Tom has discovered that it looks like it is snowing. “Perfect conditions to keep us from overheating walking up that hill” he cries. (He doesn’t cry — that was just a figure of speech — well maybe a little bit, but he says he had been cutting onions for a lasagne that evening). See the first photo below — Tom not crying, just assessing the weather.

Lighting the candles for our chef

And so began our secret mission - birthday celebrations for our mischievous and talented chef! The difficult part was keeping Chef Tony out of the kitchen and unaware of any type of preparation. Our fearless station leader Mark began the proceedings by making contact and corresponding with The Norwich City Football Club. Chef Tony is a hardcore Norwich supporter. As their number one fan, he gets up at one, two, three, even four AM to listen to a match.

The next phase was made possible by Greg, our comms guru, who downloaded BBC Radio Norwich to listen to for the day, the FA Cup final and Quadrophenia to watch that evening.

The decorations and cake arrangements were taken care of by Patty who waited in the shadows hiding next to the toilets for our chef to go to bed! Finally, and after a great deal of waiting, 0130 arrived! The decorations were able to go up and the making of the birthday cake began, with the finishing touches finally placed on the cake at 0700. In the morning, noises continued in the kitchen. Chris awoke to make the chef breakfast in bed and at 0830 the chef was stirred from his sweet slumber to bacon and eggs, toast, coffee and freshly squeezed orange juice.

A notice was placed by our ‘Fearless Leader’ that Thursday 9 May was now formally ‘Norwich Day'! A day off for all in celebration of the chef’s birthday.

In the evening we gathered around the bar to watch the chef open his presents a pro-street toy car, a new kiddies drink bottle, an amazing handcrafted wooden mug made by Dave and the present Mark had worked so hard to acquire - a happy birthday letter from the manager of the Norwich Football Club, Mr Chris Hughton, and a happy birthday letter from the captain of the Norwich Football Team, Mr Grant Holt.

We continued the celebrations with a delicious BBQ, beverages, good tunes, a Norwich chocolate mud birthday cake and a movie to finish the day off.

Happy birthday chef Tony! You're one in a gazillion!

Heritage recovery excavation

On Monday of this week I took part in the beginning of an important Parks and Wildlife heritage project organised by Chris Howard, the Parks and Wildlife ranger. Over this year, the plan is to carefully recover buried artefacts located within the station square corral, the same location featured in the station news story from 22 March. Over many years, these important heritage items have almost been forgotten with beach sand and grass now covering most of them.

The job will be to remove the sand and grass from around some of the objects and to relocate them to a safe dry storage area. The job needs to be done with the utmost care as many of these items have become fragile. Some, like the old wagon  will be too fragile to remove and will require specialist help. After removal, the artefacts will be cleaned, photographed and catalogued and some will be painted with a preservative to help to slow further rusting.

These artefacts are of historical importance to Macquarie Island’s history and for the moment, assisting with their recovery and maintenance is my task. So we commenced the day with a systematic plan where we divided the area into a grid. Chris took photos of the area prior to starting our dig. It wasn’t long before we started unearthing items that we photographed. It’s quite an odd feeling looking at something that is considered heritage and that is old! So very old! Some may not be very old at all, but we’ll leave it to the specialists to work that out.

So many questions pop up in your mind like, what was this used for? How old exactly? Who made it? Did it have an impact on the island, the animals the people here? In what circumstances did this item find itself here, so far from anywhere?! The morning ended with us uncovering a fair portion of the grid. The items uncovered are pretty large and will be removed from the area at a later stage.

I feel pretty honoured to be taking part in bringing back to the present a little bit of Macquarie Island history. Once we have become better informed on each item found I will write an update with all the interesting details.

Patty Villegas

FA Cup bonanza

This week it has been a week dominated by things soccer. First we had Chef Tony’s birthday which had a soccer flavour as seen in our second story this week.

On Saturday the 132nd FA Cup final was played at Wembley Stadium between Manchester City and Wigan Athletics. At the ground were 86,254 avid football fans who witnessed one of the best games for the ages.

Here at Macca our super comms tech Greg painstakingly uploaded the game in three hour-long segments (each segment taking several hours to upload). Live kick-off was at 4:15am local Macca time on Sunday morning. The plan was to view the first segment at 1500 on Sunday. This meant no one was allowed anywhere near a paper or internet article about the game.

We watched it on the big screen in the mess. From the start it was obvious that the game was going to be played at a frenetic pace.

Those of us who watched were kept on the edge of our seats, cheering loudly any time the ball came near either of the goals. Wigan (the underdogs) showed from the very start that they were worthy of a place in the final. The game did not reflect the team’s standing in the Premier League (Man City 2nd and Wigan 18th).

At full time the scores were deadlocked at 0 — 0. Then in the first minute of injury time, Wigan’s Ben Watson, who came on as a substitute, headed a cross from a corner kick into the back of the net. The crowd at Macca went wild.

Against all odds, Wigan had won the 2013 FA Cup. They say the game was similar to the 1988 final when Wimbledon overcame Liverpool.

Another interesting statistic out of the game — Manchester City’s Pablo Zabaleta became only the 3rd player in history of FA Cup finals to be sent off after receiving a second yellow card in the 84th minute. 

All that watched the game agreed that it had been one of the best soccer matches they had seen. 

Regards from Ranger Chris

Someone noticed that Chris, the ranger, hadn’t put an article in the station news. Many of us have been helping on some of the Parks projects, like track work and the new heritage project. An email sent to Chris’s work email address came back with an ‘out of office’ reply that may help to explain what he’s up to. An email sent to Chris’s work email address came back with an ‘out of office' reply that may help to explain what he’s up to.


Sorry — one of the joys of working in such a remote and beautiful location is that the southern wall of my office is about 35 kms away. It can take a couple of days to get back to check emails. I'll certainly respond to your email once I’m back at my desk.

Kind regards,