A visitor from far shores, first fresh veg harvest, coloured skies, more renos and a bit of history sum up the week that was at Macca.

A Kiwi visits Macca

The New Zealand sea lion (Phocarctos hookeri) is one of the rarest and most endangered sea lions. This week a male New Zealand sea lion visited the shores of Macquarie Island for a little R’n'R. New Zealand sea lions breed mostly on New Zealand subantarctic islands but are known to occasionally haul out on Macquarie Island. We record all sightings of seals that haul out on Macquarie Island. This information allows us to increase our understanding of changes within seal populations and their recovery following past exploitation.

We noticed this particular male sealion had a Y-shaped scar on the right side of its rump. We only had one sighting of this male, but if he turns up again soon we can use that marking to identify this individual. Perhaps the elephant seals on main beach were not very hospitable and the sea lion sought the company of the more closely related fur seals in the secluded beaches around North Head.

Marcus Salton – Wildlife Ranger

Macca Makeovers

With the completion of the flashings to the Nissen Hut we have a very happy and dry plumber.

The next mission in our series is to replace and re-organise the Green Store. This time around, Station Supply Officer Dom gets the limelight and, with the help of keen and competent volunteers, the old shelving was unstacked, sorted and dismantled before the new shelving was installed. Tune in next week to see how the pieces of this puzzle fit together.

Joe Ahearn — Deputy Station Leader/Building Services Supervisor

First harvest

Met Observer Alison and Dr Helen have been hard at work getting our hydroponics up and running so we can have fresh vegetables, particularly for salads. Now it needs daily attention, the volunteer roster has kicked in and a lot of us relish the opportunity to go somewhere warm for a while and tend growing things.

So far so good and we have various things growing here including basil, sage, celery, endive, tomatoes, cucumber, sugar snaps, snow peas, butter beans, eggplant, chili, silverbeet, rocket and a variety of lettuces.

Last Saturday night’s treat was the addition of the first fresh lettuce harvested – 164 grams to be exact – to go with our dinner. Just enough for 15 people to have a lettuce garnish!

Southern Auroras

We've also had some great night skies here at Macca. Of late, when we have a clear sky (and that isn’t very often), we get an aurora. George has been our cameraman with the most perseverance to date and is getting some great results.


In the early days of ANARE expeditions to Macquarie Island, it was necessary to be self-sufficient and many attempts were made to live off the land. They didn’t have the option of deliveries of container loads of frozen foods and growing hydroponic vegetables that we do now.

Former Station Leader Jeremy Smith (1996 and 2010) has published a book called ‘A Fragmentary History’ in which he has compiled extracts from the station logs to paint a picture of the times, and from this we get an idea of the options available.

Station log 23/7/51 — 4th ANARE

'Penguin steaks for lunch: mixed reception. Majority rather like penguins and as Wyatt said, killing them is like killing a friend. Weka legs tried for tea and fairly well received.'

Station log 17/4/52 — 5th ANARE

'Penguin steaks for breakfast — Gentoo eaten by most of the breakfasters but I don’t think we’ll have them again… Last of the fresh poultry used for evening meal. Trouble being experienced with refrigerator but unable to locate new wick as yet.'

They set up a farm with chickens, cows and sheep to supplement what food sources were available on the island and from the sea, and tried to grow their own vegetables, all with varying degrees of success. Rabbits were a problem, even back then.

Station log: in the fourth week of July 1956 — 8th ANARE

'Starting to build a stone wall between OIC hut and the sleeping hut called Chippie’s Church. Idea is to keep seals out of the garden and away from huts. Also should improve the appearance of the place generally. One of the hens has died. Ray Hughes carried out a post-mortem and apart from the hen carrying a tremendous amount of meat could not find any cause of death. Kent Keith saw a rabbit on the side of Wireless Hill. He has noted several traces of rabbits on various parts of Wireless Hill. Macquarie Island is becoming a rabbit park.'

Those rabbits were a problem that kept on growing until the successful Macquarie Island Pest Eradication Project (MIPEP) was completed in April 2014.

Footnote: The Chippie’s Church building is still here and is now used as our hydroponics building.