This week we can see spring is coming, another Macca makeover is completed, whales pass on by and we dip in to the happenings of the 80’s.

Spring is coming…

Winter is coming to a close. Things are about to get very exciting here on Macquarie Island. Don’t get me wrong, we all love the winter residents: king penguins, gentoos and elephant seals. However, very soon we can expect to see fantastic increases in their numbers and the return of many more species as we move into the spring/summer breeding period. First up on the breeding agenda are elephant seals, northern giant petrels and gentoo penguins.

Already we are seeing very large male elephant seals on beaches around the station. Their large noses and remarkable size are giveaways that these boys are more promising contenders for breeding territory. Next month the beaches will be covered with females giving birth to their pups. Shortly after, males will mate with the females and so their breeding cycle continues.

Northern giant petrels are preparing for their breeding season. We are seeing fresh nests being built all over the island. We have seen a lot of partners schmoosing and Kim is keeping a very close eye out for the first signs of an egg — could be any day now…

Gentoo penguins are also shaping up their nests here on station and around the island. They often set themselves up in some unusual places. Last year one pair built a nest right under a fire hydrant, out the front of the machinery shed and successfully raised their chick! Gentoos often move nests from year to year. We are eagerly watching for where they will settle down to breed this year.

Along with these breeders, during September we will see the return of skuas, royal penguins, black-browed albatross, grey-head albatross, light-mantled albatross — just to name a few. We can’t wait!

Marcus Salton

Macca Makeovers — Pool table

Torn, mouldy, stinky and stained from years of championship eight ball games, we decided that it was time to re-felt the station pool table. Tarting up the wood sides with a slap of nice varnish, a couple of new feet to keep it competition straight, beautiful new green felt on the slate and cushions, and Bob’s your aunty: a ripper pool table again! Plays great!

Ben Way

All Macca! Whales passing Landing Beach!

Over the past two weeks the team here on Macquarie Island have spotted southern right whales on two occasions. At first, just one individual was seen and this week two whales cruised north past the station. Southern right whales are a large baleen whale that grow to 17m in length and weigh around 80 tonnes! They are easily identifiable by their size and lack of dorsal fin and individuals can be distinguished by the pattern of callosities around the head.

Southern right whales can been seen around Australian coastlines during winter when they migrate from the Southern Ocean to give birth to calves in warmer waters. Being a baleen whale they feed on krill and in some areas copepods and crustaceans. Originally hunted for oil and baleen the population of southern right whales in the Southern Ocean were decimated down to just 300 individuals in the 1920s. They are now slowly recovering as a protected species listed as endangered under federal legislation. Current threats to the population include entanglement in fishing gear and collisions with and disturbance from vessels at sea. Whale watching is an growing industry in Australia, and we feel privileged to watch these incredible creatures of the sea from Macquarie Island.

Kim Kliska


Burrowing around in the station logs to see what was happening this week back in the 80’s, I found it was all about airdrops. Avid followers of all news Australian Antarctic stations would have read of the excitement of the airdrop at Casey in June (Casey Icy News June 17), but did you know airdrops were a regular feature of life here on Macquarie from 1977 until 1990? It would certainly create a little excitement on the isthmus, although the advances in communications mean we're not as starved for news from home anymore.

Station log 07/09/1977

Great excitement. Orion airborne about 8am from Sale airport and began reporting in to Macquarie on the way. It arrived overhead approx 1130 and immediately did a run over the isthmus. Everybody on vantage points with their cameras. Three storepedos dropped on the isthmus — the last a tube of papers and magazines went into the sea on the east coast and was rapidly washed out to sea. Griffo trying furiously to pump up the rubber dinghy but the rate of drift was far too great! Mail loaded on the tractor and everybody retired to dark corners to read — everybody very happy and we hope it will become a regular fixture.

Station log 15/08/85

Airdrop day. Conditions less than ideal… aircraft arrived overhead at 1120 and after one observation run commenced dropping. On the second run, two compacts were pushed out together rather short and both hit the catchline, bringing the wire down. One compact was carried out to sea eastwards and got away before a line could be got to it. The other landed on Buckles Bay beach OK. All other loads landed on dry land and were recovered without too much difficultly… all cargo and mail appears to have arrived intact — another good exercise.

Station log 15/8/86

Airdrop day and magic weather. Very successful drop (15 drops in all and easily recovered with wind speed of 15 knots). A great boost to morale. Very quiet camp with troops reading mail and catching up with news from home.

Station log 21/8/87

A beautiful day for the airdrop — lightish winds, good visibility and high cloud base. Two compacts dropped and five dizzy lizzies and all recovered OK… lots of fresh vegies/fruit and mail.

Station log 17/8/88

From 6am we were experiencing a full scale blizzard as the SW change hit the island with full force. It really looked fairly hopeless for a airdrop today. Some tension obvious amongst a few people who were desperately waiting for mail as we waited for 9am and a decision from the RAAF crew… at 0920 the RAAF was in the air and heading for Macquarie. The Hercules arrived shortly after midday and managed to get a ‘dry run’ and the ‘dummy run’ completed before being dissuaded by a lengthy snow squall which hid the station and Isthmus for more than 20 minutes.The cargo delivery was completed after more than 2 ½ hours of flying over and around the island while more squalls passed over us. We were able to recover 11 out of 12 loads, a number of which landed in the water off Hasselborough beach. Our man with the wetsuit (Jon) earned his money yesterday. One or two other people also took unwanted dips during recoveries… Some of the packages delivered received a bit of a buffeting but only very minor damage to a couple of items sustained. Once again, the packing of the goods was excellent, fruit and vegies arrived in good condition and even Ted’s fluorescent tubes survived intact… Everyone glad to be out of the weather and into the mail by 3:30pm and the rest of the day spent quietly reading mail.