A birthday, plateau tramping, more renos and a Macca rainbow are our highlights for this week.

The delights of Macca day-hiking

All staff lead pretty busy lives down here on Macca, so whenever a day off happens to coincide with a relatively good weather day, I find nothing more exhilarating than putting on my hiking boots, grabbing my kit and heading off for the hills. The effort in reaching the top is always well rewarded as the splendour of this incredible island instantly captivates you.

On each of my day hikes, the landscape has revealed itself in a unique form. From an icy snowfield to a luxurious green top, no two days are ever quite the same. In fact, the only constant, in what is an extremely diverse environment, is that it never ceases to delight. And after a day of physical and mental invigoration, the station delights of a hot shower, a few quieties with your mates, a home cooked meal and an assured good night’s kip await you. Not a bad way to spend a day on what is a mere dot within the vast expanse of the Southern Ocean, even quite humbling.

Martin Greer

Macca weather

First rainbow we've had down here — couldn’t find the pot of gold at the end though.  And in true Macca style – I was getting wet and cold in a hail storm on the isthmus whilst taking this pic of the other end of station. Weather is never dull here!

The chef has a birthday

We all know that the most important person on station is the chef; not only do they feed us amazing food daily, but come a special occasion like Midwinter or a birthday, they pull out all the stops to make it a memorable event. So what do you do when it’s the chef’s birthday?

Our Rocket’s birthday fell on the Saturday after Midwinter so we quickly declared a holiday for him and plans were made for how to help him celebrate (and feed ourselves).

We spend a lot of time playing darts in our Mess, but Rocket prefers pool, so the pool table was lugged from the Post Office into the Mess for a ‘Rat Pack’ themed evening of pizza and pool. Marcus and Kim did an amazing job making a pool table cake for him, and Joe and Chris blitzed the pizza making so no one went hungry.

Couldn’t get too out of control though, as we also made plans to send Rocket off station to see some of the island the following day with the rangers… we're expecting him back this weekend and will somehow manage to feed ourselves until then.

Macca Makeovers Part 3

This week it was time to unpack those crates and start the Cumpston’s Cottage makeover. Whilst Cumpston’s is one of the younger buildings on station (completed 1997 and rumoured to be a Japanese kit home designed for rapid construction post an earthquake), unfortunately the window construction wasn’t quite Macca-sealed.

This means there has been a lot of water damage around the windows, with leakage of water and air on the inside so the timber is now rotting away. Upstairs, Rocket and Helen can actually get a curtain moving breeze in an easterly whilst the windows are tightly shut! Almost half the building’s windows had been boarded up by the last team in order to try and keep some warmth in the building and the water out.

Joe and Pete set to it on a relatively windless day and got the first four windows into the ground floor station leader’s office. You can feel the change in temperature immediately and it’s lovely to have light! Stay tuned for further improvements.

Flashback — anyone recognise these?

Much has been documented about life on Macquarie Island over the years. One only has to find the right book in the Library, sit and carefully read the station logs or these days, type ‘Macquarie Island’ into the appropriate search engine on the internet and vast amounts of information will slowly trickle down from cyber space, the speed of the download being directly proportional to the amount of traffic running over our communications link!

On that note momentarily, recently reading the diary of Leslie Blake (Lost in the Mists: Leslie Russell Blake, Mawson’s Cartographer and Hero of Pozières, Australian Scholarly Publishing) I learned a message was transmitted from Mawson’s team in Antarctica via wireless to Macquarie Island. This message was subsequently retransmitted to a telegrapher in New Zealand, who rang the intended recipient, and was able to pass the reply back to Antarctica in less than 5 minutes. The year — 1914. On other occasions, weeks would pass where atmospheric conditions or equipment failures resulted in no communications, sometimes months at a time!

Contacts established with prior station personnel have again this year provided valuable insights and answers to some of our queries about previous life on station. The celebration of Midwinter last week also reminded the current team of our place in history — lots of photographs were taken that in time to come may provide a valuable insight into life on Macquarie Island.

There are occasions where records and information available on station simply can’t answer the question. Such was the case recently with the pendulum clock in the Mess — a valuable piece of memorabilia, the origins of which were lost in the midst of time, that is until some tantalising snippets of information were passed by a previous expeditioner (thank you Colin from the 7th ANARE, 1954). Colin has been able to describe the role and function of the chronometer in the process of taking magnetic observations, albeit in a slightly different configuration to it’s current form. Research conducted by Pete, our current station dieso coupled with Colin’s recollections is that changes in technology may have made the variometer clock redundant, and someone has been able to make modifications to the instrument to create the beautiful old timepiece now present. A bit of detective work further supports this theory; the clock mechanism and clock face are of a different age and linage. The old saying about 'necessity being the mother of invention' holds true for the clock – a small flexible metal strip onto which the pendulum mounts and swings has long since worn out and has been replaced by a thin strip of aluminium from a beer can – it works!

So, this week we have some more questions to pass to the ANARE family. Does anybody have any more information on the pendulum clock in the Mess? For example, when was the variometer chronograph upgraded in the Magnetic Observations project, which may lead to a suggestion of who was able to resurrect the clock and when? Perhaps a photograph of the clock in its original use?

Next: to a pair of snow shoes and an ice axe that has pride of place in the Mess. Perhaps not of the same vintage as the clock, and our ‘warm’ weather this season has thus far not seen a need for return to service; does anybody have any information on the lineage of these items?

Our intention is to put a small plaque with relevant information alongside the clock, and the snow shoes in order to provide a snippet of information to the next team…

Chris Howard — Ranger in Charge