New faces, festive celebrations and some amazing auroral activity have blessed the last few weeks at Macquarie Island.

Station Update

Hi everyone and welcome back to Macca for 2016. A brand new year and things are looking bright and beautiful! Christmas and New Year’s celebrations, as well as taking a little downtime, have been high on the priority list these past few weeks; although rest and relaxation has been hard to squeeze in with such a busy schedule of other events.

Dedicated input from all here saw a beautifully decorated station set the scene for our festive season’s celebrations. Jimmy and all his kitchen elves turned out a wonderful brunch with croissants, French toast, bagels, English muffins, poached eggs, special home-made bacon and oysters. Shortly thereafter, Santa rolled in aboard his trusty wheelbarrow and, with the assistance of his two jovial elves, he delivered present to all the well behaved boys and girls. Many of these gifts had been handmade by the hobbyists on station, creating some lovely keepsakes to remember our time here.

After a few of us had a quick afternoon nap, or a dip in the outdoor spa, we were back at the Post Office for a pre-dinner soiree. Lionel kicked things off by reading bush poetry, some heartfelt and some just plain funny. Then Helena, Jacque and Louise took to the stage with guitars, violin, harmonica and some wonderful vocal harmonies. The trio had spent many hours practising in the lead up and the performance was well worth their effort — well done and thank you, ladies!

Then it was time for the lavish Christmas feast. Many of us contributed an idea or recipe that meant something special to them, resulting in honeyed leg ham, moist roast turkey, Chinese style duck, blue swimmer crabs, prawns, southern rock lobster, salmon and spinach roulade, brown rice and lentil loaf, sabzi pilau and all the salads that could be pulled from hydroponics — to name just some of the succulent dishes that spread across the dining table. And no Christmas dinner would be complete without a juicy Christmas pudding bathed in brandy sauce, or maybe some passion fruit flummery or panettone with a semifreddo filling.

It sounds like all we've been doing is eating these past few weeks. While that isn’t too far from the truth, we have had plenty of other things on the go. Some of our summer scientists have been out furiously collecting more samples and data before heading home. The ranger crew (plus volunteers) have been off conducting a survey of Antarctic terns. And this Saturday just gone saw the culmination of the Macquarie Island poker championship, where Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) observer and rookie poker player Louise took out the tournament. She was later heard commenting that she doesn’t play the cards on the table, she watches the player reactions and plays the probabilities. Putting those observation skills to work and adding in a drop of science, we have a true poker champion in the making.

We've had two more tourist ships call through: the third Heritage Expeditions tour for the season brought us seven new smiling faces to join our crew, while we farewelled another seven on the same ship. The more recent visit from the French ship, Le Soleal, has kept us all busy as we met and guided the large cohort of tourists around the isthmus, station and Sandy Bay. It’s always amazing to see the reaction on people’s faces when they see our wildlife and the sheer beauty of the island in person for the first time.

And if all this wasn’t enough, over the past few weeks, the crowning jewel in our New Year’s Eve celebrations was at 2300 hours when an aurora was spotted above station. We all piled outside as many of the newcomers got to witness the magic of the aurora australis for the first time. We may have missed out on the fireworks show back home, but we reckon our light show was second to none!

The last word