Work continues on Macquarie Island as some prepare for the journey home.

Station update

Autumn emphatically announced its arrival at Macca this week with plummeting temperatures and the first snowfalls. Flurries of snow and small hail lashed the station over the weekend, and we awoke on Monday morning to see the plateau proudly displaying a pretty white dusting of snow in the crisp morning light. Temperatures hovered around four degrees with apparent temperatures below zero much of the time. The wintery weather that blasted the island also left Rangers Paul and Rowena unable to leave Hurd Point hut to return northwards on account of strong winds. They made excellent use of their time though doing maintenance on the huts and stocktaking the tools and food supplies. Upon their return, the rangers also reported that the royal penguins are also leaving now, and their colonies high on the hillsides are getting smaller.

News of the grounding of the Aurora Australis at Mawson, had expeditioners on station sending thoughts in the direction of our fellow expeditioners at the continental stations. Whilst there was abundant healthy interest and curiosity about how our voyage home in late March might be affected, for the most part an overwhelming air of patience and understanding prevailed. Helpful suggestions from the Macca crew flowed freely. Standout innovations included building a raft from our old fuel drum supply, resupplying huts via meteorology balloon, and calling back luxury vessels Le Soleal or Silver Discoverer to take us home.

On Saturday, the Macca mess was transformed as Jimmy and slushy Duncan drew upon Duncan’s time spent living in Japan to create a marvellous Japanese banquet which included agedashi tofu, okonomiyaki, yaki soba, yaki tori and yaki tori kawa. The meal was capped off with an extravagant crème caramel.

On Sunday the albatross team of Kim and Marcus, set back out into the field for their final field trip of the 2015/16 season. They were accompanied by Doc, Mal and Chef Jimmy who graciously volunteered to accompany the team to count southern giant petrels.

With only three weeks to go, we are well and truly in pack up and clean up mode, and serious resupply planning is also underway. Trades projects are being completed with great fervour, and planning for the strip down of hydroponics and the food stores has started. Dieseo Lionel is working hard servicing all of the vehicles ready to assist in cargo operations, and the first of the LARCS (our amphibious vehicles) have been de-winterised and is ready to roll. Science teams are getting samples ready for shipment and Storeman Dom is entering the final pieces of return cargo into the system.

This week we were visited by our final tourist ship for the season, the Professor Khromov. This ship was returning from a voyage down south to the Antarctic continent. Unfortunately, the weather was not cooperative and large easterly swells rolled in accompanied by high winds which meant the tourists were unable to visit us on this occasion.

The sight of the ship in Buckles Bay was a strong reminder that in just a few weeks we would again be welcoming another ship, but this time most of us will be the ones on board, and waving our island home farewell.

Jacque Comery

Green Sponge Interview Series: Marcus S

Name: Marcus Salton

Nicknames: Marcus (yep, very original)

From: Gippsland, Victoria

Previous seasons? This is my first summer. In winter 2014 I worked on seals at New Zealand’s most southern subantarctic island, Campbell Island.

Job: Albatross Researcher

Hobbies: Surfing, running, diving, hiking, photography, reading, and I’m learning yoga.

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.)

I am working on the Albatross and Giant Petrel Monitoring Program. We traverse the island to find where birds have built their nests and then we record who breeds with who (from their uniquely numbered leg bands), when they start breeding, when they hatch their eggs and how many chicks they raise to fledging (independence).

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

Macca has SOOO much more wildlife! It is also great to see the flowers in bloom — they were all dormant when I was at Campbell Island in winter.

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

Profiling the different character traits of the diverse wildlife and observing their behavioural change throughout the season.

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

A book, yoga mat, my wool beany and camera (never know what I might see…).

What song sums up your Macquarie Island experience so far?

Favourite element of the Macca weather? Clear skies, so we can appreciate an aurora.

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

Chris Hemsworth: blonde, blue eyes, and we both like Phillip Island, Victoria.

Favourite hut or walking route?

Hurd Point hut.

If you were not an albatross researcher what would be your dream job?

Another <marine predator> researcher — I find marine predators’ behaviour fascinating!

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


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

Hover boards — we could access all the tricky albatross nests and improve our monitoring!

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


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

I love them all — diversity keeps life interesting.

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

Mist, northern giant petrel vomit (I can’t get that smell out of my clothes), vruuw vruuw (that’s a king penguin), burnt toast (it’s taking me a while to master the grills in the huts…).

Settlers of Catan, or Darts? Have you tried 500 or bananagrams?

February weather summary

February has seen a return of some more usual Macca weather that has been a new experience for a lot of the summer expeditioners that haven’t seen it over several days.

With a shortening of daylight hours we have seen a reduction in daily sunshine to an average of 3.7 hours, slightly higher than the mean of 3.5 hours. Auroras were spotted on three nights this month. 121mm of rain fell in February on 27 days with it falling as snow on two days and hail on three.

Temperatures were generally lower with an average maximum temperature of 8.0°C and minimum of 4.5°C, 0.6°C and 0.8°C lower than the long term averages. It was a windier month than usual with the average wind run about 200 km higher at 949 km with a maximum wind gust of 55 knots. Strong winds (≥22 knots) were seen on 25 days with gale winds (≥34 knots) on 11 days.

Duncan Bullock

The last word