The albatross have come back to the island for summer; a SAR exercise to check preparedness for the season ahead and a new sundeck.

The albatross return

Over the past couple of weeks the signature sound of the light–mantled albatross call has returned to station. As the island comes alive, the light–mantled albatross, along with the black–browed albatross and grey–headed albatross return to the slopes of Macquarie Island to breed. The wandering albatross adults will also return soon. Last week field biologist Kim and wildlife ranger Marcus went south to begin the summer monitoring program.

The light–mantled albatross breed all around the island and expeditioners often see them flying around and nesting near tracks or huts. With an estimated 2800 breeding pairs they are the most numerous albatross species on the island. The black–browed and grey–headed albatrosses only breed in the remote southwest corner of the island and are more elusive.

With around 40 pairs of black–browed albatross breeding on the island they are sometimes seen foraging off the east coast of station. The beautiful grey–headed albatross with their brightly coloured bills are rarely seen and last year around 100 pairs bred on Macquarie Island.

The global populations of these species are in decline with grey–headed albatross internationally listed as an endangered species, and both black–browed and light–mantled albatross listed as near threatened.

Over the season the breeding status of all albatross will be monitored to collect data crucial for determining population trends that update the conservation status of theses species and fulfil Australia’s international obligation as a signatory to agreement on the Conservation of Albatross and Petrels (ACAP). The work conducted on Macca is important to understand and conserve these species and the team feel privileged to observe these amazing creatures.

Kim Kliska

Search and rescue training

With summer comes much more traffic in the field and in order to make sure we were ready for any scenario we did a search and rescue (SAR) team technical lift exercise the other week.

Using Wireless Hill just behind the station, the team were required to lower the stretcher and a person to stabilise it over the steep cliff edge until a point where others could get across the slope to meet him and help carry the patient down.

Both lowering and raising belay techniques were practised as the escarpments on the island have many obstacles to get round. Hopefully these are skills we'll never have to put into practice in a real rescue situation.

Cute gentoo chicks peeking out everywhere

Surrounded as we are by all the action of Spring in the animal kingdom, here’s a cuteness update on how the gentoo chicks are faring and growing, now that almost all the eggs have hatched.

Macca Makeovers – sundeck

As part of our preparation for our new arrivals and as a response to the wonder of a sunny, windless day on the island, Glenn and Ben got busy and built our “Mawson Memorial Sundeck” by the Southern Aurora Donga building.

So named as we think it’s pretty close to the footprint of the original hut constructed during Mawson’s 1911—1914 expedition. It’s a grand sun–catching spot that should see some good traffic over summer.


And so to the last of our huts on the island — Bauer Bay, on the rugged west coast and a few hours walk from station on the Island Lake track. The proximity makes it a popular destination for shorter breaks from station and the local wildlife includes gentoos, royals and elephant seals.

For the sports enthusiast, a number of mainland AM radio stations are able to be picked up from this location. Patience is required however, as you need to continuously skip the channels as each fades with the changing atmospheric conditions.

It’s a magical location to watch some of the splendid west coast sunsets. Eagle–eyed hut users may even be treated to a special flyover during the summer for the wandering albatross breeding season. One male bird has been observed nesting in the middle of the featherbed north of the hut over the last few years and his nest can easily be observed with binoculars from the hut. Sadly ‘Dougy’ as he is known locally (aptly named owing to the nest proximity to Douglas Point) has not been able to attract a mate.

The first radiosonde packing case version of a hut was made in 1955 to support CSIRO wildlife studies. It was only three feet high with just enough room for two men in sleeping bags and no more, and known alternately as ‘The Bauer Bay Hilton’ or ‘The Coffin’ — it seems how one felt about it depended on the conditions. 

Station Log 3/3/60

Magga Dan established arrangements made by helicopter to fly building materials to Bauer Bay. We have made a tentative design for a hut 9’ x 9’ with two bunks and put materials ready for this purpose.

Station Log 20/2/61

Bauer Bay: quite a cosy little packing case but very little thought give to its location. Hard to find and subject to winds. It seems to be in constant use.

In 1962 a prefabricated aluminium hut was built overlooking the beach and named ‘Wims Inn’. This survived until 1974 and was subject to some luxury renovations. A second hut, The Rex, was built next door to Wims in 1964.

The present hut was built in 1965/66 and has been maintained ever since with significant renovations in 1991, including painting it hot pink as this was the only colour available on station at the time. The hut is commonly referred to as ‘The Bauer Bay Links’ as it overlooks the large, flat beach which is considered ideal for a quick round of golf.

Bauer Bay hut log 10/4/70 — Gavin Johnstone (ornithologist)

A great achievement today. Peter Brandy completed the construction of the hot water system, complete with ballcock in main tank, and we now have hot water in the taps: I had my first hot shower at Bauer…

Bauer Bay hut log 29/11/70 — Peter Tyler (Botanist)

Peter Tyler and Roger Croome arrived here at 12:30pm after a cramped night at Sandy Bay. We revelled in a hot shower, the first ablution for five days.

Sadly not a facility we have these days! The shower was removed sometime after 1971 and the space it left is now our pantry area.

Bauer Bay hut log 31/1/76 — GJ

In all probability I have now spent my last night at Bauer Bay, a great hut in a beautiful part of this fabulous island.