A gourmet birthday feast, renovation rescue for an old hut, searching for birds in the long grass and some history this week from Macca.

No one starves here…

For anyone who worries about what we eat here, rest assured we are lucky enough to have Uber-Chef Rocket. Not only does he meet all our daily needs with great variety, but occasionally he likes to stretch his creativity, and George’s birthday presented a perfect opportunity. To compliment this, white linen tablecloths were found and hi-vis clothing was banned. We won’t bore you with endless food pics but we went from quail to prawn to duck to George’s favourite dessert – trifle – and it was all delicious.

Macca Makeovers

No doubt those renovation show addicts amongst you have been on the edge of your seats waiting for these pictures, after last week’s teaser (to avoid disappointment, we would like to advise that this is a soft furnishing free zone).

The plumbers Nissen hut — originally built sometime in the 1950’s — has a new skin. Front and back ends are still to be done and the interior to be cleaned and lined (perfect rainy day/winter jobs), but it is now waterproof and we have a very happy plumber.


North Head

The northern end of station sits at the base of North Head. There’s a steep track up from Garden Cove that is our escape route in case of a tsunami event (our emergency cache is up there) and there is also much wildlife living around the coast and cliffs. This week, wildlife ranger Marcus took a couple of us up there to join in on his search for grey petrel burrows. In short, this entails crawling around very carefully in the tussocky grasses on the edge of the plateau, looking for signs of a burrow. The birds should be sitting on eggs now, so we were hoping to find some birds at home. Three occupied burrows were found — two already known and a new one.

Over winter, Marcus hopes to search the entire North Head area for signs of grey petrels. He will also visit other known breeding areas across the island. This will provide information on the size of the breeding population, the preferred vegetation type for their burrows and the size of their burrow-clusters or colonies. Now that cats, rodents and rabbits no longer pose a threat to grey petrels on Macquarie Island, we hope that this endangered species shows some signs of recovery.

It’s also a great view of the station and the island from up there.


The walls of our mess are festooned with mementos from previous expeditions, as well as the wall of photos of each wintering ANARE team since 1948. There’s something about these photos that makes us all regularly look at them and wonder and chat about previous years and how it must have been for them to be here, so we're going to do some research and thought we’d share what we find out here.

First up is the large section of water cart from Furphy & Sons which hangs on the wall behind the bar. We thank the 45th ANARE for their research on this – job done for us and yes, that’s where the expression comes from.

A plaque beside the artifact reads as follows: 

“This cast iron end comes from a Furphy Water Cart. The first Furphy Water Cart was made between 1878 and 1880 and was invented by John Furphy. The Cart consisted of a water tank mounted on a wooden horse-drawn cart. The value of advertising was recognised and raised lettering listing the products of John Furphy was added to the tank end castings. In 1895, Jon added a short rhyme with a strong message. It reads, “Good, better, best. Never let it rest, until your good is better and your better best”. John’s son William added a Pitmans shorthand inscription in 1910, which translated reads, “Water is a gift of God, but beer and whisky are concoctions of the devil, come and have a drink of water”. The illustration of the stork holding a baby in traditional fashion is followed by the statement, also in shorthand, which reads “Produce and populate or perish”. The date 1942 was added to the original inscription of “Born about 1880, still going strong” in that year. The date was dropped from the mould in 1960. 

The presence of the water cart in military camps in Australia and overseas during the First World War led to the name of Furphy becoming an indelible part of our language and idiom. It was used extensively in Europe and the Middle East to carry water to the troops and the drivers were notorious sources of information and gossip for the men as they moved from camp to camp. As could be expected, not all of the news was reliable and so it was that the word Furphy rapidly became a synonym for suspect information or rumour.

Furphy tanks were supplied to the Macquarie Island station in the first years of operation. Tanks are also present in the ruins of the Heard Island base. A Furphy tank was transferred from station to Green Gorge in 1955 for collecting rainwater for the water supply. The two cast iron ends are still there. This tank end was rescued from the dump by Malcolm Black, electrician in 1978, who restored it and added it to the memorabilia in the Sealers Inn.

45th ANARE 1992”