Celebrations for World Ranger Day, birthday wishes for a much missed daughter, another makeover almost done and how our weather compares to time gone by.

World Ranger Day

Sunday July 31 was World Ranger Day and Macquarie Island’s Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service Rangers, organised an evening of activities in honour of the day, and to raise some funds for The Thin Green Line Foundation, an Australian charity dedicated to protecting endangered species and threatened ecosystems by supporting park rangers.

We started with a screening of the documentary ‘The Thin Green Line’ to learn about the varying roles of park rangers around the world and how the foundation was started, and then moved on to a BBQ dinner and trivia night. Three teams — Jungle, Savannah and Rainforest — competed for prizes donated by various expeditioners; a raffle was held to raise funds and Marty took home the lucky door prize. 

We all learned something new about the animal world such as giant kelp can grow up to two feet per day and of the 12 tree kangaroo species in the world, only two live in Australia and a human has two more teeth than a lion! It was an enjoyable evening for a good cause.

Happy Birthday Zoe Greer!

Monday 1 August was a special day for a very special little girl. It was Zoe Greer’s 8th birthday! Not only is Zoe my youngest daughter, but she is very much part of our extended Macca family. So it was a cause for celebration not only back home in Darwin, but also here on the island. Zoe and my wife Kylie visited Hobart during our pre-departure training which provided the opportunity for them to meet much of the crew on one of our regular Thursday station nights. At the dinner table, Zoe alternated between the laps of Helen, Esther and Ali as she demonstrated her drawing skills, whilst entertaining us with some of her knock-knock jokes. It was a lot of fun.

A mutual affection developed between Zoe and many of the crew which has continued and also proved very enriching. It has provided her with a greater interest in the island and station life than perhaps otherwise would have been the case. She is an avid reader of Icy News every Friday and often provides some very insightful feedback. Zoe’s class 2/3D at Jingili Primary School have also been in correspondence, showing particular interest in Macca wildlife.

So when it was time for a birthday photo shoot, in true Macca style, it was all hands on deck with Dom providing balloons, Joe the penguin suits, George his photographic skills and everybody their enthusiasm. A surprise video conference link-up between Zoe and myself was also arranged after some behind the scenes co-ordination from Rob, Esther and Kylie with everybody observing a personal IT black-out to preserve bandwidth. Upon viewing the station photo, Zoe responded, “they are the best crew ever”. For a group of people who have provided her such a memorable birthday experience from 5000km away, who could argue? So from all of us here on Macca, Happy Birthday Zoe Greer xxxx

Martin Greer 

Macca Makeovers continued

A spell of relatively good weather last week meant the trades team could finish installing all the new windows at Cumpstons Cottage. 

I was down island at the time, but here’s how Joe reported it in the station log (yes — we still keep a daily log):

Monday July 25

Light winds with some sunshine. A good window to install some more windows to Cumpstons

Tuesday July 26

Another good weather window for windows. The bosses room and office is starting to look real comfortable.

Wednesday July 27

More good weather for windows. All windows in Cumpstons Cottage have now been replaced. Architraves will be an extra. The boarded windows in Esther’s room were filled with doona filling: it looked like someone had been plucking penguins. 

While the finessing of architraves and rehanging of curtains waits for an indoor work day, residents are happy to report being warmer and loving the extra light (approximately half the windows had been boarded over due to leaks). In fact, I think I could probably watch an Aurora from bed through my new picture window, if we ever get a clear enough night…

Esther Rodewald


Here’s one for those of you that ask us “how’s the weather?” down here. Senior Met Observer Alison Skinn, has looked at our current stats compared with previous years', to see how things are changing here on the ‘green sponge'. 

For the sixth month in a row Macca has smashed its average monthly rainfall, with 124.2mm compared to the long term July average of 73.4mm. January received close to average rainfall but since then each month has been considerably above average. The cumulative rainfall for the first seven months of 2016 is 779.0mm from 200 rain days (days with more than 0.2mm). Note that July 31st is the 213th day of the year, so there have only been 13 days without measurable precipitation so far in 2016. Macca's average annual rainfall is 981.6 mm and the wettest year on record was 2015 with 1272.6 mm. We will beat them yet!

Macca’s driest year on record was 1960 with only 721.1mm, a total which is close to Perth’s average annual rainfall and is still significantly wetter than the average annual rainfalls of four of Australia’s other capital cities.

During July 2016 we received precipitation of some sort (rain, snow or hail) on every day of the month. Since 1948, and the start of continuous weather data collection at Macquarie Island, we have only once had a month where the number of rain days has been less than half the month. March 1984 had only 14 days with precipitation! The average number of rain days per month on Macca varies across the year between 24 and 28 days a month. 

The average maximum temperature for July 2016 was slightly above average, 5.4°C compared to the long term July mean of 4.9°C. Our highest maximum and minimum temperatures for the month came close to equaling July records (close, but no cigar). The highest maximum temperature was 7.8°C on the 12th getting up there with the best on record of 8.3°C from July 14th 2010. The 12th was a rainy and foggy day with northerly winds which is was why the temperature was so high. The warmest minimum temperature this month of 6.4°C on the 13th was just below a July record too, 6.6°C from July 30th 1980.

We didn’t get close to any of the coldest temperature records.

The coldest temperature for the month was −2.7°C, reported in the 9 am observations on the 25th it was actually recorded during the middle of the day on Sunday the 24th.

It was another above average windy month with the mean daily wind run of 998.1km well above the more usual ball park of 740km per day. A definition of wind run – imagine the wind is spinning your car’s tyres for 24 hours, the wind run is the number of kilometres racked up on the odometer. The strongest wind gust was 60 knots from the west at 14:48 on July 20th. We had 27 days out of the 31 with strong winds (above 22 knots). There were 17 days with gales (above 34 knots), well above the July average of seven days. We also enjoyed 15 days with snow fall, seven days with hail, three with fog and 15 with mist. There were 10 days of frost, minimum ground surface temperature −0.9°C or less, so July offered some good firm walking opportunities across the swamp and bog.

Alison Skinn