Halloween, cup day, weather summary and an interview with Macquarie Island’s resident cartoonist.

Station update

A hive of activity is an apt description for Macca this week. Our science projects have wasted no time in getting under way. Many of the summer crew have previously spent multiple seasons on the sponge, and have quickly settled back in to life on Macca.

Aleks T headed directly into the field, cutting a striking figure with his giant backpack with two huge antennae sticking out of the top. We are all amused as to how he stayed upright in the winds of the past week!

Our remediation team of Robbie, Helena, and Terry are already busy around station taking samples whilst avoiding the exploding weaner population. Robbie hosted ‘Show and Tell’ on Wednesday night with an interesting presentation on the human footprint left by years of occupation of the isthmus.

Kris and Kim have been based down at Hurd Point for the past week, setting up home for a three week stint down at the hut to commence their work on threatened sea bird populations, namely giant petrels and albatross. Their work takes them to some of the steepest slopes and cliffs around the island. They have been accompanied by field training officer, Psycho, to assist in negotiating the trickier sections of terrain.

A small party of Robbie, Helena, Terry, Lou and Jac headed out on Saturday to visit Secluded Bay on North Head, to take advantage of being able to see the light-mantled sooty albatross choosing nest sites. This part of the island is a special management area (SMA) and is only accessible for a very short period of time.

Halloween was celebrated on station on Saturday night, with a ghoulish smorgasbord meal shaped like a torso prepared by Doc Marion. Newcomers to station were inducted on the foosball table, and the dance floor received a workout for the first time in a while!

Melbourne Cup was celebrated on station Tuesday with a delayed screening of the race. The ‘Race that stops a Nation’ did NOT stop a station, on account of by the time that we were able to download the race it was already 1830 hours! We gathered in the mess in the evening, complete with race wear appropriate hats (which had a striking resemblance to Halloween at times) and fascinators, to cheer on our horses drawn in the sweep. Ranger Andrea emerged victorious.

The TASPARKS rangers have been out in the field as well, busy with preparations for the first tourist ship arrivals. Our ranger in charge Andrea, has been busy working closely with our incoming Ranger in Charge Paul. Summer Ranger Rowena has been flat out getting biosecurity measures in place for the influx of visitors, and wildlife ranger, Anna, has been making grand plans for the skua census. 

The Green Sponge Interview Series: Edition 9. Nick C

Nick Cartwright, building services supervisor (BSS) and resident cartoonist

Name: Nick Cartwright

Nicknames:. Nicko, Nickelby

From: Tassie

Previous seasons?  Several summers, and this is the third winter.

Job: BSS, carpenter

Hobbies: Drawing, reading, building, water sports

You've done quite a few seasons with the Australian Antarctic Division now down south. How would you sum up the difference in working and living in the subantarctic as compared to being on the ice?

The continent is very dry. This is very, very wet. Sodden you might say.

We have all been enjoying your wonderful cartoons every week. How does being here on Macca influence your ‘tooning?

Creatures more than people become the centrepiece. Can’t help but anthropomorphise!

What is the favourite part of your job here at Macca?

Making a home in a hostile environment.

If you were exiled to Bishop and Clerk Islands to the south of Macca, what four things would you take with you?

A mule. A grand piano. A car ferry. A palm tree.

What song sums up your Macquarie Island experience so far?


Favourite element of the Macca weather?

When it is still.

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

I’d like to think Ralph Fiennes. But more likely something of an amalgam of Kevin Kline, Edward Norton, and Bill Nighy. With a touch of Lenny Henry.

Favourite hut or walking route?

From anywhere to the mess.

If you were not a chippie, what would be your dream job?

Paid nomad. With a friend.

Favourite piece of AAD/TASPARKS kit?


It is the year 2115 on Macca. What is the coolest thing we have on station and why?

A long rope suspension bridge between North Head and the Southern Island, because the isthmus has been permanently washed away.

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

Rod (Stewart)

What is your typical ‘Slushy FM’ genre? A particular favourite?

Miscellaneous. Manu Chao to Ella Fitzgerald. A favourite is Tim Finn.

Describe your Macca experience with: a sight, a smell, a sound, a feeling and a taste.

Shafts of light and storm cells, Gentoo #5, restless sea, restlessness, Gentoo #5.

Settlers of Catan, or Darts?

Either. But darts if pushed.

October weather summary

October began with a tremendous storm that would be later referred to as the ‘Great Isthmus Inundation’ of ’15. The weather system that caused it all also gave us our lowest pressure reading for the month, 961.1 hPa, as well as our strongest wind gust at 83 knots. Though we haven’t had another storm this season to match it, it was an appropriate taste of what we were to expect for the rest of October.

It rained, hailed and/or snowed everyday this month bringing a total of 112.6 mm of precipitation. A substantial increase to the climatic mean for October, a mere 76.2 mm.

The constant rainy weather and overcast days meant we only averaged 2.2 hours of sunshine each day, boosted by an exceptionally sunny day last Wednesday where we saw over nine hours of unhindered sunlight. A far cry from the long term mean of 3.1 hours a day.

In addition to constant rain we also had constant wind. With strong wings (above 22 kts) measured every day, and gale force winds (of 34 kts and above) experienced on all but four days. Overall, an incredibly windy one, with our wind run averaging 1132 kms of wind a day, well overshooting the historical average of 775 kms a day for October.

Temperatures were colder than expected with an average maximum temperature of 5.6°C a slight 0.2°C below the climatic average and the monthly average minimum temperature of 2.2°C being 0.9°C below what we expect.

Looking back on the month it appears that our trend this year for weather that is colder, windier, and wetter than the climatic average is continuing. Hopefully as we meander towards the end of spring we get some respite, maybe a sunny day soon to take a photo or three. 

Dan Laban

Photo gallery: Halloween and Melbourne Cup Day fun

The last word