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.