More prep for the incoming winter crew includes an industrial clean of the kitchen. Charismatic Bioremediation Field Team Leader Robert Kilpatrick is interviewed and a day in the life of elephant seals on Macquarie Island is explored in pictures.

Station update

Packing continued this week on Macca in preparation for the impending resupply of the station. The annual kitchen strip and clean was completed on Friday, with a huge team of helpers chipping in to scrub and polish every surface of the kitchen. On Monday the green store fridge was overhauled. After any remaining food was emptied into the breeze way fridges, it was scrubbed clean and sterilized and now sits awaiting the arrival of a new season’s load of supplies. The laboratory was given a thorough clean out this week as well, and the trades’ team are working around expeditioners trying to finish off their last minute hobby projects, to get their workshops ready for handover. Nick, Terry and Robbie remediated the helipads on the isthmus Friday, rectifying the damage resultant from the inundations that occurred in the big October storms.

Despite the news of our return voyage being set back at least a week, we have continued with our final preparations to our original schedule. On Monday and Tuesday expeditioners handed in their unaccompanied personal effects (UPE) to be packed into cage pallets ready for loading onto the ship. Final samples are being prepared and packed down in the lab. For the next few weeks we will all live from our carry-on bags, which may see some limitations to the fine fashion choices that have been displayed all season. Packing up our chattels has the reality of our impending departure starting to sink in.

A few crew got out and about for a last trip around the island this week. Doc, Lou and Tim spent Saturday evening at Brothers Point Hut, while Jac, Robbie, Terry and Jez went to Bauer Bay. Mark and Ian walked out to Green Gorge on Monday in some very persistent rain to check out a fault with the remote area power supply (RAPS), to ensure it is all up and running for use by round trip expeditioners during resupply.

A group that is showing absolutely no interest at all in packing up and moving on are the gentoo penguins on the main station roadway. Having nested alongside the road this year, the chicks crèched up right in the middle of the road. We all breathed a sigh of relief once they finished moulting thinking we’d have our roadway back before resupply. Alas, the adult birds have moved back in and are building practice nests all over the road edge, and even on the concrete ‘footpath’ outside of the meteorology building! Appearing largely unfazed by the movement of the JCB and other vehicles around station, we think that these guys might remain a fixture for the incoming wintering expeditioners.

Green Sponge Interview Series: Robbie K

Name: Robert Kilpatrick

Nicknames: Robbie

From: Tasmania

Previous seasons? Probably a few too many. Mainly Macca, but also Casey and Davis.

Job: Well, I used to be a marine scientist of sorts, but somehow I’m now the Bioremediation Field Team Leader.

Hobbies: See ‘Job’.

Tell us about the project work that you are doing on Macca this summer: (What is the project, what field activities are you up to, etc.)

I am here to investigate land based fuel spills and maybe see if we can’t clean a few of them up. It means digging a lot of holes, taking soil samples, and then filling them back in again. When we find a really bad patch, we pump some air and some liquid fertilizer into the soil to make all the soil beasties (microbes) happy and hopefully eat up the contamination. Well, that’s the theory anyway.

How does this season at Macca compare to your previous seasons down south?

Nothing really compares to a season at Macca, except perhaps the previous seasons at Macca.

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

Well, the fact that it’s at at Macca. But I’m not going to let on much more about that. Everyone will want my job otherwise.

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

I would take all four Zodiacs (inflatable rubber boats) so I could make my way back.

What song sums up your Macquarie Island experience so far?

Anything that will make Terry Egan dance (since he dances like Peter Garrett).

Favourite element of the Macca weather?

That westerly wind! It works its way into everything, sometimes right into your head where it drives out all the nonsense and leaves just the things that matter.

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

Probably Kurt Russell, and he would do it so, so badly.

Favourite hut or walking route?

It’s too hard to pick a favourite hut, they are all awesome in their own way. Walking tracks? I would have to say the last part of the Island Lake track, where you can look down the west coast and watch the southern ocean smash into the side of the island as the sun sets.

If you were not a Remediation Field Officer what would be your dream job?

Sometimes I miss the sea. I would be a marine scientist again.

Favourite piece of Australian Antarctic Division/Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife kit?

The woollen thermals. Great for when you out in the field walking about, but even better for when you get home and have to deal with the standard uninsulated, poorly heated, Tasmanian house.

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

It would still be the LARCS (Lighter Amphibious Resupply Craft). They were built in 1965 but we will still have them in 2115 and they will be exactly the same. Everything else down here will have long since rotted away to nothing.

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

I don’t know. Atticus?

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

Well, it’s not Mariah Carey’s ‘All I want for Christmas’! And if I find out who broadcast it over the Macca airwaves, I will kill you!

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

Really? This interview is way too long.

Settlers of Catan, or Darts?

Neither, I’ll stick to a little slide guitar instead.

Photo gallery: Ele seals — gotta love ‘em

In the words of our Ranger in Charge, Paul Helleman, “Ele seals — gotta love ‘em!”.

From the cute cheeky weaners, to the big old timers that we share station with, each seal definitely displays its own personality, making them such a fun subject to observe and photograph.

Paul’s work takes him out and about on the island, and he has been lucky enough to witness all aspects of these wonderful creature’s behaviors.

We hope you enjoy Paul’s shots!

The last word