Macca shows off with wonderful images, a world record stargazing attempt (kind of) and more.

Station update

Small station numbers this week with Justin, Ben and Andrea celebrating Justin’s birthday down at Hurd Point, and Dan and Marion celebrating Maz’s birthday exploring the Lusitania Bay area.

We welcomed back Ranger Anna from eight days away photographing king penguin chicks — she helped bolster station numbers for the weekend.

Work continues around station with our works program and ongoing maintenance checks, and servicing, keeping Nick, Lionel, Mark and Ben busy.

A relaxing Saturday afternoon was had on station with many of us watching the Brno Moto GP that was pre-recorded, followed by a screening of the Moto GP movie Fastest. Duncan prepared a delicious dinner of citrus pork with rice and we gathered in the mess, ready to join in the Guinness World Record stargazing attempt. Thanks to Anna and Duncan who sweet talked the people at Guinness to allow us to represent the people of southern most point of Australia!

The leopard seal made another appearance on the west beach of the isthmus right beside the ANARESAT dome on Sunday afternoon. It basked all day in the intermittent bright sunshine and gentle snow showers. 

The communal jigsaw puzzle continues. The blue sky in the picture seems to be causing challenges for us! However a group of gentoo penguins and a full moon have now been pieced together.

The mess was adorned with a new weather display screen this week. Now we can also see the wind chill measurement. Now we also know why it feels so cold all the time despite temperatures sneaking above zero degrees!

This week we are celebrating Nick’s birthday. Happy Birthday Nick!

In all we have celebrated five birthdays in August on a station of 13 people! A collective August birthday Hawaiian themed party is planned for this Friday night. Justin is cracking out the spit roast and we hold our hopes for some accompanying tropical weather.

We have had a few beautiful clear mornings this week, and many of us have had a chance to get out with our cameras and capture the rare blue sky. Lionel, our dieso, has done so many seasons down here that he knows where to head for the great shots. Enjoy some of his pictures from the past week.

Guinness world record stargazing attempt

Last Friday night, Macquarie Island’s expeditioners were part of a Guinness World Record attempt. The attempt, organised by Mt Stromlo Observatory in Canberra, was to have the most number of people stargazing at multiple sites in the same country — Australia, in this case!

With various people in the field for birthdays and work, and the official requirement for an observer and steward to verify everything above board, we were down to six star gazers on station. But would that be the six that got us collectively over the line? “BYO binos” said the whiteboard in the mess.

Duncan, our meteorological observer for the day, thought our prospects of seeing stars were limited. “I think we're in trouble” he predicted, as the drizzle continued through the afternoon. But the moon was glimpsed by several people on their way to dinner so spirits were high in the mess, as expeditioners dusted off ancient binoculars and donned layers as the appointed time approached.

Video camera rolling to capture footage for Guinness’ verification, the expeditioners raised their binoculars to the sky at 2030hrs. Slowly but surely the binoculars misted up with the light drizzle enveloping the group. Alas, neither the moon nor a single star showed itself during the stargazing period.

Luckily, on the mainland they had clearer skies and many enthusiastic participants who appear to have succeeded in breaking the record (pending official verification) without our numbers being crucial.

Anna Lashko

West coast marine debris collection trip

Duncan, Rich, Anna and Andrea recently took advantage of a brief lull in the westerly winds to clear washed-up junk from part of our world heritage island’s coastline. The prevailing westerly winds and currents deliver a surprising amount to our island speck in the vast ocean.

All four of us welcomed the chance to explore the coastline and see what fascinating (but appalling) junk had turned up. It was good timing to get out there — soon after some stormy west coast weather and before the giant petrels start nesting in the area again.

Over about three kilometres of coastline between Cormorant Point and Aurora Cave we gathered up hundreds of plastic bottles, many polystyrene chunks, rope pieces, colourful fishing buoys and lots of other stuff. Our largest discovery was a big old fishing net. All a sad indication of the volume of junk out there in the ocean.

The storms had pushed most of the debris up in the tussock vegetation behind the beaches, so the four of us had a tiring but satisfying day climbing through the thick grass and sliding in muddy wallows and piles of rotting seaweed slime.

Andrea Turbett 

The Green Sponge Interview Series

Name: Anna Lashko

Nicknames: Anna Banana, Hannah Montana.

From: Canberra, ACT

Previous seasons? Summer 2012/13 at Macca as a Field assistant on Albatross research program.

Job:. Wildlife Ranger, Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service

Hobbies: I don’t have any hubbies! Oh, hobbies! Hmm, ok. Here at Macca- reading, playing settlers, playing in hydro. At home football (AFL), Frisbee, and gardening. 

In your work with seabirds you have worked and lived on many islands around the world. What are some of your stand out island experiences, and what do you like about island life? Here at Macquarie Island is pretty special as it is so unique with lots of species that people would never get to see in their lives and I get to live with them! Also the two months camping on an uninhabited island in Fiji helping a friend study Fijian Crested Iguanas was a stand out. I like the simplicity of island life.

What is the favourite part of your job here at Macca? Getting to explore the island and all of its wonderful places.

If you were exiled to Bishop and Clerk Islands to the south of Macca what four things would you take with you? Binoculars and a clicker because if I didn’t count the birds there I’d be in trouble! A boat (so I could come back), plenty of food, and four magic wishes!

What song sums up your Macquarie Island experience so far? Today I think anything by Wet Wet Wet.

Favourite element of the Macca weather? Sunshine on fresh snow.

What actor would play you in a film version of our 68th ANARE season here at Macca? Kylie Minogue. We are the same height and she has similarly uncontrollable looking hair (circa 1988).

Favourite hut or walking route? Hurd Point Hut.

If you were not a Ranger what would be your dream job? Isn’t that the answer to life’s question?This is pretty good in the meantime.

Favourite piece of AAD/Tas Parks kit? I love the non-issue headband. PLEASE ADD HEADBANDS TO THE ISSUED KIT! I love them so much that I am using a previously worn one that I rescued from the Brothers Point Hut cold porch!

It is the year 2115 on Macca. What is the coolest thing we have on station? Drones! They would do all of our survey work and the rangers would be fat and lazy.

Please name the royal penguin on our 68th ANARE logo. Punky!

What is your typical Slushy FM genre? A particular favourite? People associate me with the 80’s — refer to previous comment re: Kylie Minogue circa 1988. I like to make the occasional dedication so it depends who is around.

Describe your Macca experience with: a sight, a smell, a sound, a feeling and a taste. Green, petrel burrows, elephant seal belching, damp, hash brown Wednesday.

Settlers of Catan, or Darts? Setters! Though let it be noted that I went in the inter station darts completion a few weeks ago (but only because we had already secured the win from Casey!).

Thanks Anna! Don’t get lost down any petrel burrows!

The last word…