One of the more ambitious ideas for influencing the landscape at Macquarie Island was to grow trees, and at the end of 1955 the planting began.
Station log 21/12/55 — 8th ANARE
'Transported and planted trees on Wireless Hill in later afternoon. 24 of various varieties grouped in sheltered area planted with or without lime and some in mineral, others in peat and some in mixed soils. Also planted a Chinese Juniper near huts. Repaired glass box for seedlings and planted lettuce seeds. Discovered ram and three ewes on Wireless Hill in sheltered gully so now have full count of sheep… All men very happy and in perfect harmony.'
But the trees didn’t thrive. By the following year:
Station log 3/8/57 – 9th ANARE
'Three-quarters of the trees planted last year have died and numbers of this years also. Although many trees are still alive, none seem to be growing'.
[Mentioned elsewhere in the station log are planted willow, birch, pine and alder trees, in three separate plantations — Wireless Hill, Camp Hill and Gadget Gully, none being promising.]
Station log 1/9/57 – 9th ANARE
'The seedling trees are putting forth their buds, to spring forth their leaves in the summer, only to lose them again in the winter, and so on, ad infinitum. From a meteorological point of view, it is my firm conviction that trees will NEVER grow on Macquarie Island. If it were possible, these would be here now, and should have been for millenniums. The seed would have been transplanted from other islands in the feathers of birds, or stuck to mud on their feet. It is not the cold of winter we are up against… The difficulty arises from the lack of WARMTH in the summer… Macquarie Island is about 300 miles south of the tree line.'
And this view proved correct, as we are still completely tree-free.