First gentoo chicks have been spotted, hospital training exercise completed and we meet Macca’s ducks.

First gentoo chicks!

The first gentoo chicks have been spotted in the colonies around station, at both Razorback and Landing Beach road on Monday afternoon so could be a tie for that spotter’s prize!

We can’t wait until they actually venture out from mum and we get a good look at them, but here’s the first peek!

Sub-Antarctic wildlife: more diverse than you might think

When you think of Antarctic or sub-Antarctic wildlife what do you think of? Penguins? Seals? Whales? Albatross? Petrels? Skua? What about ducks…? Ducks certainly are not most people’s idea of a sub-Antarctic species, but they do live and breed on Macquarie Island.

While searching the featherbed during the northern giant petrel census, the Macca team have encountered many pairs of ducks (mostly pacific black ducks) and even some nests with eggs and ducklings! It really is amazing to see the diversity of species that make up the Macquarie Island ecosystem.

Two species of duck are resident on the island year round: the pacific black duck and the mallard, which is an exotic species. Hybridisation between these two species has occurred on the island and depending on emigration to Macca, it is likely that over time there will be few 100% pure pacific black ducks remaining on the island. Both species are mainly found in coastal areas and have been monitored during regular transits on the north part of the island. Chestnut teal have also been recorded in recent years.

Marcus Salton

Lay surgical assistant training

We need to be as self sufficient as possible in this remote location, so as well as being our own fire, and search and rescue team, some team members have received special training at Royal Hobart Hospital prior to departure in order to be able to assist the doctor in an emergency. Once all the training is complete they become ‘lay surgical assistants’ (LSAs) – two are trained in anaesthetics and two in theatre nursing.

Training involves spending two weeks in Royal Hobart Hospital operating theatres observing and assisting with real operations, while being taught how to use the equipment we have on station and to assist with surgical procedures.

As there is a lot of information to retain, once on station refresher training is run regularly. The other afternoon, Dr Helen decided to do a full theatre exercise for an appendectomy scenario.

As you can see, we have all the required equipment here and the LSAs look just like the real thing. Although, hopefully this is another new skill we never actually have to put into practice…

Macca makeovers – Flagpoles

The summer sprucing up continues and no detail is overlooked by our crack team of tradies and their helpers.

The flagpoles were in dire need of a cleanup, so down they came for a sanding and some clean new paint: very white and shiny now with lovely red tops. The perfect look for flying the flags for our first ship arrival for the season next week!


Hurd Point is the southernmost point of the island and has had a field hut there since 1953. It was set up for use as an aurora observatory — the idea being that there was one observatory at the main station and one at Hurd Point. The distance between both cameras could be acutely determined by a land survey, the position and the altitude of the Aurora was calculable, although that didn’t necessarily guarantee success as weather is always a factor!

Station Log 12/11/53

The evening brought forth some beautiful Auroral displays. Multiple bands in the Zenith and two extremely well defined Coronas. All hands sprang to action stations at the Auroral Observatory — but alas heavy cloud at the south end prevented them from seeing any Aurora at all — a bitter disappointment.

Getting to the hut is one of the major challenges as the escarpment is long and steep. Descent used to be via the scree slope.

Hurd Point hut log 24/4/75 — Ivan Hawthorn

Ivan arrived ex C/C 1300 hrs and met Ed & Loui at the bottom of the scree — Loui minus seat of pants.

Re–configurations and improvements have been made to the hut over the years, and a lot of the older smaller buildings were taken down or fell subject to nature.

Hurd Point hut log 30/12/77 — Dave Griffiths

Hurd is a great little spot, a cross between a railway carriage and a youth hostel dorm.

Hurd Point hut log 4/10/81 — Anon

The small hut below has blown over since 27/08/81

Hurd Point hut log 28/2/82 – Ted Upton

Trip here was worth it. Not only because it was a joyful experience, but renewing roof and spouting should ensure a proper water supply — on our arrival it was obvious no water had flowed in the tank for at least a year. Possibly that’s why people weren’t anxious to come here. We think it’s a beaut hut in a fine place.

Hurd Point hut log 16/10/82 — Dave and Ian

Came down the frozen scree slope but aborted last half. The larger rocks gave a security rating equal to that of marbles on concrete. Ian lost the seat of his trousers to prove it.

Now we travel down via the creek or grassy slope, although either is still intimidating for the first timer.

The hut as we know it now is the result of an extension to the old living hut in the mid–1980’s, enlarging the space and installing the very popular picture windows: these give a great view down the beach taking in all the wildlife activity. At the time, the hut became known as ‘Raewyn Lodge’ after the much loved boat of expeditioner Stu Hodges, who did most of the building work. This name has fallen out of use today, although there is still a sign in the hut.

Hurd Point Royal penguin colony is the largest on the island and believed to be around 500,000 breeding pairs. It is next door to the hut, so, whilst appearing well dressed, the neighbours can be loud and smelly.

Hurd Point hut log 11/12/83 — Jim Milne and Jan Adolph

After Sked we had a Sunday night bonfire on the beach and invited all our friends form the Hurd Point Hut area. They all came dressed in formal attire and enjoyed themselves immensely. After a nightcap… We retired after another action–packed day. The weather was terrific today we hope it can last just one more week.

Hurd Point hut log 10/1/84 — Peter Crohn

It would be nice if we had just one hut which was not at the foot of a steep… slope and not surrounded by noisy and smelly beasts and birds, at this end of the island.

Hurd Point hut log 6/12/86

Mark & David B arrived ex Hobart via Nella Dan and LARC to the beach… and amaze at palatial Raewyn Lodge, boffin junk off the LARCs, rubbish backloaded then LARCs away to rejoin Nella anchored close in south of Lusi. Water tastes yucky, hut and view from corner table fantastic.

These days the hut is used regularly by the albatross research team as their base for monitoring the breeding albatross in the special management area around Caroline Cove, and is a popular hut that all expeditioners want to get to at least once, to complete the experience of having walked this island and slept in the most southernmost and remote bunks in Australia.