Macquarie Island completes work and welcomes tourists. Rob from communications is interviewed.

Station update

For operational reasons this week on Macca our activities were reduced, resulting in a relatively quiet week on station.

At the start of the week expeditioners headed out into the field to undertake a range of field work including weed assessments, skua and northern giant petrel census, and albatross monitoring.

Upon notification of reduced activity, our intrepid field parties were asked to remain in the huts until further notice. For three days the team sat tight in their respective huts. We are essentially one big family down here, and the following days partially represented a rainy day family camping trip of days gone by, with everyone enduring or enjoying each other’s company. The full gamut of card games, puzzles and radio quizzes were explored, and the ‘Albatross Cookbook’ — a wonderful hut cookbook developed over the years by field based expeditioners — was given a thorough testing.

Rich and Chef Jimmy spent some quality time together at Brothers Point, enduring many hands of Monopoly Deal. When Jimmy finally returned to station via the visiting tourist ship, Rich resorted to cooking enough pizza to feed the entire passenger contingent of the Akedemik Sholkalsky.

The crew over at Bauer Bay, all five of them in a hut with four bunks(!), resorted to knitting, with Karen making a breakthrough in her lessons, and Jane producing a cherished headband for the station leader — thanks Jane! The radio was soon abuzz with traffic between the ‘Bauer Bay Bakery’ and the ‘Brothers Point Pizzeria', swapping recipes, jokes and quizzes. Such gems as “What is brown and sticky? A stick.” This was followed up by “What do you call a stick on the beach on Macquarie Island? A biosecurity hazard.” Anna survived the isolation only on account of still receiving her daily word puzzle over the radio.

The Albatross team of Kim and Marcus, were restricted to Hurd Point hut with a dwindling fuel supply. They had the great joy of being restricted to the hut with the best view of the island, and a few thousand noisy royal penguin neighbours. Not a bad place to be forced to spend a few days off!

Meanwhile down at Green Gorge, FTO Ian, waited patiently on his own, with only intermittent comms back to station. I think he enjoyed the serenity.

When the team finally received the news that they were being recalled to station, they were most relieved, but were also forced to face the prospect of having to abandon their residual baked goods.

This week we also had two visits from tourist vessels. The Akedemik Sholkalsky stopped en route to Commonwealth Bay, disembarking passengers at Sandy Bay in some beautiful sunshine. Tour guides Ranger Paul and Tim met Jimmy and Rich, and hosted the latest visitors in some glorious sunny weather. A few days later we were visited by the Spirit of Enderby en route the Ross Sea, the sister ship of the Sholkalsky, giving us all deja vu.

Back on station, the remediation team are progressing well with their project work, and continue to be pestered by curious local critters. 

The great ‘Woolies’ (food store) relocation was also completed this week, with store-man Dom coordinating a team of generous volunteers to move our household consumables to a new section of the store.

Station attention is turning now to planning our Australia Day celebrations, which of course will include the annual summer swim.

Jacque Comery

The green sponge interview series: Rob B

Name: Rob Bennett

Nicknames: Rob (Benno — Army days) (Benny — school days)

From: Cairns FNQ

Previous seasons? 92/93 Larcie @ Casey, Davis and Mawson; Nov 13 — Feb 15 SCTO Casey

Job: Station Communications Technical Officer (SCTO), Macca 2016

Hobbies: Riding (motorcycle), scuba diving

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.)

Upgrading the radio repeater sites at Mt Elder, Mt Waite and Mt Jeffreys, maintenance and preparation for upgrade of field communications equipment, and preparing for an upgrade or the station satellite internet link

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

Much wetter and much greener.

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

The wildlife and the view up the razorback to Perseverance Bluff during my morning walk to the communications workshop.

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

A knife, a bird net, my Kris Kringle survival kit, and a cook book.

What song sums up your Macquarie Island experience so far?

Rain by Dragon.

Favourite element of the Macca weather?

Macca has it all but not enough sun.

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

Tom Hanks from Cast Away.

Favourite hut or walking route?

Favourite walking route is across the isthmus, I must say the downhill walk on the South Lusitania Track is pretty special also.

If you were not a communications technician what would be your dream job?

Caretaker on a deserted tropical island.

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

I have never been so thankful for gum boots.

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

Due to global warming it’s 40°C on Macca so the coolest thing is the freezer!

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

It would have to be Lovelace from Happy Feet

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

I like a mixture of 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s, 10s, mostly R&B. Dan the weather man would say its Creedence, Fleetwood Mac and Dire Straits — well that’s definitely a good start !

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

Macca: a breathtaking sight accompanied by the sound of a farting elephant seal with a choking smell, squishy under foot and a sensational taste of fine food.

Settlers of Catan, or Darts?

Definitely darts.

The last word

The Macquarie Island moulting cycle…