A spot of boating, regular balloon flights, gardening, and renovations, make for another busy week on the green sponge.

Meteorologists and their flying balloons

We have three team members here — Ali, Marty and George — all working for the Bureau of Meteorology, who have been running science and weather observations on Macquarie Island since ANARE began.

Part of their daily routine is regular balloon launches. Twice a day they release a balloon with a sonde (electronic measuring instrument) underneath it that sends data back to them with constant details of atmospheric temperature, air pressure, humidity, wind speed and direction, until the balloon finally bursts somewhere around 30 km up in the atmosphere.

Once a week they release an ozone balloon which does all of the above and also measures O3 (ozone) to track how the ‘hole’ in the ozone layer is increasing and/or decreasing. This balloon is bigger as it needs to carry more weight and go higher — it burst around 34 km up. The sonde is also bigger and heavier, and continues to send data as it falls back to earth after the balloon has exploded. And yes, it is polystyrene as a material is yet to be found with the equivalent weight, strength and insulating properties — the search for a replacement is ongoing.

First boating of the season

Occasionally the weather lines up here in such a way — low wind and swell, good visibility — that we get what we call a ‘boating day'. We have two coxswains as part of the team this year and this means we can go as far as Green Gorge on the east coast — about halfway down the island.

Whilst this is great recreation, it’s also an effective way to move small amounts of cargo around the island and, as we didn’t have helicopters for resupply this year, we have quite a lot of supplies that need to get out to field huts.

A couple of weekends ago, some of the team got busy cleaning and checking boats post resupply, so they’d be ready at the first opportunity.

Then, last Friday, we had a weather window that meant we could load up and head for Sandy Bay and Green Gorge. We delivered new comms equipment, RAPS equipment (remote area power supply), food rations, track markers, a tool cache and a field hut medical kit swap out. Saved a lot of walking and carrying!

In fact, they were so busy out there that no one managed to take any photos of the actual trip…

Gardening Macca style

The Ranger in Charge, Chris, is not a man who likes to be idle. Locating an eroded spot on the isthmus near to some exposed station services (due to the large storms last year) he takes a moment to replant some tussock grass and fill the gaps, making everything much prettier and promptly attracting the local fauna.

Q: When is a roof not a roof?

A: When it lets in as much rain as the plumber’s Nissen hut does.

Whilst all that rusted, corrugated iron can look pretty it doesn’t make for a great work space. The trades team and various volunteers are hard at work this week to replace the roof and give the hut a new lease on life, which makes for a very happy plumber.

'Macquarie Makeovers 2016’ — come back next week for before and after reno pics.

Morning traffic jam

It’s not what you face on most roads, and this is the only one linking north and south of station.

I detoured down to the beach and around, as all animals have right of way here.