A cosy week on station with both work parties and recreational travellers out and about experiencing Macca’s snow blanket.

Station update

This week there has been more activity occurring off station than on, with several field parties out working down island.

Rich and Duncan headed out on an eight day round trip, with a list of communications related jobs as large as the backpacks that they were carrying. The guys made checks on the VHF repeater sites (inconveniently placed atop hills), inspected equipment at the field huts and installed a new battery charging system at the Davis Point hut. This hut is an ex-MIPEP shelter which has been retained so as to provide a shelter for field parties working on the remote southwest region of the island.

Rangers Andrea and Anna set out on a two week bird monitoring trip, making their way down to the southernmost extent of the island. The rangers were accompanied by Justin for the first few days until he returned solo back to station. Part of the rangers’ role on Macca is to monitor the sea bird populations, and on this trip checks were made on the progress of the albatross chicks. Grey petrel burrows were also searched. We look forward to the rangers returning early next week.

Doc Marion and Louise also have been out experiencing the island, taking time to photograph the king penguins at Brothers Point. They returned from their three day trip with many stories of penguin antics.

During the week we received decent amounts of snow which settled at station giving us a dry, white carpet for a few days. When the ground freezes up it is amazing how quickly you can walk about the place without trudging through soft black sand.

Mark, Ben and Jac took advantage of some calm weather to explore the rockpools of Garden Cove immediately behind station. All three of us armed with cameras, we managed a few pretty photos, and avoided all of the fur seals.

The weather has now warmed up a bit and the snow at sea level has all melted. The increase in temperatures has welcomed out the kelp flies, and the mountain of kelp thrown up on the beach in recent weeks is now rotting, permeating throughout the station with a delightful rotten egg smell.

On Tuesday the 14th we celebrated Bastille Day! Marion and Louise baked croissants, which were devoured in the shadow of a scale model Eiffel Tower at smoko! Shouts of “Ooh la la”, mostly from Lou and Maz, and the tones of Edith Piaf resonated through the mess. In the evening Justin prepared a delicious french themed dinner complete with crème brulee.

Garden Cove rockpools

A low swell day on the east coast this time, gave us another opportunity to check out the rockpools in Garden Cove. The east side is typically more sheltered, as the prevailing winds and swell here are from the west.

With Mark coming along to spot for grumpy fur seals, and Ben coming to spot for orcas and waves, we made our way at low tide around into the sheltered Garden Cove rockpools.

There is a myth here — perpetuated by Lionel — that if we tap the rocks with a pole that the resident orcas will show up. Ben banged away for an eternity, and nothing happened! Mark was snapping pics of cute fur seals, particularly one with a green tag, that we haven’t previously seen.

Without being able to see the view finder from above the water I had no idea what I was shooting, so it was a most interesting exercise in photography! However enough random snapping produced a few colourful images.

It was wonderful to see these colourful jewels of Macquarie Island lying in just 30 cm of water around the intertidal zone: another beautiful aspect of the environment here that is not so apparent at first glance.

Species noted were sea star Anasterias directa, anemones Parantheopsis cruetata, purple snails Cantharidus coruscans and sea cucumbers Pseudopsolus macquariensis. Corrections or other identifications are most welcome!

Jacque Comery

The Green Sponge interview series: edition 3 with Ben Golden

Name: Ben Golden

From: Sydney, NSW

Previous season? Nil, ‘Greenhorn'

Job: Plumber extraordinaire, gym officer.

Hobbies: Gym


How do you rate the Macca surf breaks and what would be your top pick, if we were actually allowed to surf here? It is world class. Top picks would be Handspike Point, because it is wicked, and Garden Cove because it is close and it’s a nice little break.

What is the favourite part of your job here at Macca? Getting involved in maintaining the whole water system from the source to end user, and doing lots of jobs that I wouldn’t have the chance to do back at home.

If you were exiled to Bishop and Clerk Islands to the south of Macca, what four things would you take with you? My finance Mel, my dog Xena, geez that’s about all I need, (Aww super cute ben! — Jac) and a sat phone to communicate, and a fishing rod.

What song sums up your Macquarie Island experience so far? Coastal Kids by Bliss and Eso.

(Justin interrupts thinking he is witty. Ben rolls eyes, Justin picks up vibe and leaves.)

Favourite element of the Macca weather? Four seasons in one day.

What actor would play you in a film version of our 68th ANARE season here at Macca? The Rock.

Favourite hut or walking route? The coastal routes. Nothing up the Doctors track.

If you were not a plumber, what would your dream job be? Freestyle jetski shop owner and custom car builder.

Favourite piece of AAD kit? Faded blue Carhart jacket.

It is 2115 on Macca. What is the coolest thing we have on station? Jet packs so I wouldn’t have to walk up Doctors track. (I am seeing a theme here! – Jac)

Please name the royal penguin on our 68th ANARE logo. Percy, oh what? Someone said that already? Ok, not Percy. Um… What’s a good, solid name? The — nah, can’t start with The. Chuck? Nah, Peter! Yes, Peter will do.

What is your typical Slushy FM genre? A particular favourite? I don’t really play slushy music but if I do, it’s Aussie hip hop.

Describe Macca with: a sight, a smell, a sound, a feeling and a taste. Beautiful, sulphur, waves breaking, awe inspiring, waffle cones.

Settlers of Catan, or Darts? Darts. Settlers, pft.

Thanks Ben, and may your pipes remain unfrozen!

The last word…