Continuing our field hut tour down the east coast, we get to Waterfall Bay hut, which was built as a replacement for Lusitania Bay hut, the other original old Walrus aircraft engine packing crate hut being used on the island which had been erected about the same time as Sandy Bay hut. Cramped and a haven for rats, it was ideally positioned in the middle of the Lusitania Bay king penguin colony, so was a sentimental favourite for some, however the location was no longer workable once the colony grew so large that access to the hut became increasingly difficult.
A decision was made to reuse one of the Googie huts from the 1992 Heard Island expedition, and this was installed in December 1993 approximately three kilometres north of the old Lusi Bay hut, overlooking a small rocky beach protected by numerous rock stacks and kelp beds.
Well clear of the king penguin colony, there were no major animal or bird sites to disturb at this location (this was the first Googie brought to the island as Brothers Point hut didn’t arrive until 1996).
There is no mention in the station log of the actual hut installation which happened over resupply and changeover that year, but Don Hudspeth, FTO at the time, recalls:
Don Hudspeth — FTO 1993
Waterfall Bay hut was flown in by helicopter from the Icebird — which steamed to just offshore to make the flight shorter – a team of us dug foundation holes and received the slung concrete bases, support ring and hut.
The ‘smartie’ looked like a cumbersome orange UFO flying in from the ship but was slung straight into position first time by Jerry the pilot.
‘Waterfall Bay Hut’ by Ingrid McGaughey
Nicknamed ‘googlies’ or ‘smarties’ the hut prototype had been designed by Attila Vrana, an engineer at the Australian Antarctic Division. They were radically different from conventional hut form, basically looking like a squashed egg on stilts and accessed by a short flight of aluminium steps. Advantages were improved aerodynamics, preventing accumulation of drift snow and effective utilisation of space with floor hatches for food and gear stowage, curved beds and benches to fit the shape of the hut, and water storage in the base.
Inaugurated on 28th December, 1993, in the presence of Kendi Davies, Don Hudspeth, Christo Baars, Brett Melbourne and Terry Reid, the first entry in the Waterfall Bay hut log reads:
Terry Reid – wintering ranger:
Well new Lusi (or whatever you end up being called) here’s wishing you a long and active life. You have a hard act to follow… some of us consider the original Lusi to be the most amazing hut anywhere… By comparison to other huts you lack kings at the door; or royals under the window; or elle seals beside the wall; or gentoos at the porch! But any port in a storm… methinks you will serve a more than useful purpose in the years to come.
The different design was often cause for comment.
Waterfall Bay hut log 30/1/94
Dave and Glen arrived from GG after a very wet and windy walk. Very comforting to see the orange UFO on the beach from the track above the rookery.
Waterfall Bay hut log 2/5/94 — Cam
Cam in from Sandell Bay, where the wind was so strong that I, literally, got blown over the top of the scree slope! Arrived at the ‘Martian’s base camp’ and what a relief to dry things out after miserable cond’s on the plateau. The UFO looks a little out of place, but definitely is a haven in such poor weather!
For a couple of years there, both huts were still being used.
Lusitania Bay hut log — 15/5/94 — Joan Russell
I do like this hut — and I’m sad that it’s leaking and starting to disintegrate generally…
However, Lusi Bay hut was finally completely decommissioned in June, 1996, by the same wintering team that installed Brothers Point hut.
Lusitania Bay hut log — 1/6/96 — Rick Besso
A party of six people arrive from VJM by IRB to clean out and decommission Lusi Bay hut. Beautiful weather with snow on the plateau and peaks. The ground was frozen with sheets of ice surrounding the hut… The king penguin chicks took great interest in our activities and I feel sure that this disruption to their daily lives was not appreciated and the removal of this well used hut will be to their benefit. Party consisted of: Rick Besso, Darron Lehmann, Paul Klemes, Tracy Tarves, Ray Bajinskis and Dave Pottage.
A cold porch was added to the hut in 2000, giving it the look still familiar to us here this year.
Waterfall Bay hut log — 9/2/00
After four long days with no jenny and two blunt panel saws Kev & Doug finally erected a new cold porch to the hut.
And finally, a word of warning to potential travellers:
Waterfall Bay hut log — 7/4/08 — Ali D, Barry & Alby
Saw an aurora and when Alby went out to look, he fell waist deep into the bog, just off the verandah ramp — poor Alby was soaked and all Barry and I could do was laugh. Nice one Alby!
Since tales travel and people love a good naming, this feature is now known as ‘Alby’s bog'.