This edition of station news features a day in the life of the Macquarie Island Rangers and we get to know winter expeditioner Station Communications Technical Officer Tom Luttrell

A Macca day in the life of Tasmanian Parks & Wildlife

The Macquarie Island Ranger Team

Penny Pascoe and I are the two rangers based at Macquarie Island this winter for the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service. Our job is to contribute to the management of the Macquarie Island Nature Reserve and World Heritage Area’s significant geological, flora, fauna and historic heritage values. We also look after biosecurity surveillance to prevent the accidental introduction of invasive species and pathogens that have the potential to cause enormous damage to the island. Biosecurity is especially important following the recent successful eradication of rabbits, rats, and mice.

What rangers do each day depends on things like the weather, what is happening with the wildlife and the time of year. Some of the diverse jobs that rangers will do this year are:

  • Maintain biosecurity surveillance and screening of all visitors and cargo to ensure that no new invasive species are introduced to the reserve.
  • Count seals, penguins and other animals to monitor their populations.
  • Search for burrowing petrels to determine where they are breeding.
  • Manage visits by educational tourist ships.
  • Record significant events, such as storms or visits by animals infrequently seen at the island.
  • Care for walking tracks and other infrastructure.
  • Monitor the condition of historic heritage sites, such as old huts and the places where seals and penguins were processed for oil.
  • Oversee the operation of Australian Antarctic Program station and scientific programs to ensure that reserve values are protected.
  • Clean up marine debris along the coastline.

Many of these jobs require us to walk long distances, cross steep and rough terrain and spend lots of time out in cold and windy sub-Antarctic weather. As well as enjoying these challenges, it is very rewarding to be able to help look after the island while exploring spectacular places, have close encounters with special wildlife species and see how the island’s vegetation is recovering.

As members of the small community of 15 people living here at the Australian Antarctic Division’s Macquarie Island station this winter, we also help with chores, assist with the running of the station and participate in community events. We’re all lucky to be down here working and living on this very remote and special sub-Antarctic island.

Andrea Turbett — Ranger In Charge, Macquarie Island 70th ANARE

70th ANARE Winter Expeditioner Profile: Tom Luttrell

Name: Tom Luttrell

What is your occupation on Macca? Describe the main responsibilities of your role on the island.

I am the station communications technician. If it’s electronic and it’s not operating correctly then it’s my job to turn it off and on again. If that doesn’t work then it might be time to read the manual. There are also a few scientific experiments I look after, like the ARPANSA radionucleotide monitor, tide gauges and Geoscience Australia magnetic observatory.

What are your secondary / community jobs on Macca?

Electoral officer and backup photographer to Lionel.

Where are you from?


What is your normal job back in the “real world”?

I work as a Communications Technical Officer in the ICT section of the Australian Antarctic Division.

Have you been to Macca or other Antarctic stations previously?

I wintered at Casey in 2010 and at Davis in 2012. I have also been on a few round trips including voyages to Mawson and Macquarie Island.

What was your main motivation in coming to Macca for 2017?

After seeing a bit of the island on a round trip to help with some radio repeater hut work I knew I had to come back and spend more time here.

List some of your favourite aspects of life on Macca so far:

Along with the obvious beauty of the place and abundant wildlife, I find the small community lifestyle quite pleasant. I enjoy hiking on the island and the wild weather — not generally at the same time though.

What are some of the most challenging things about living on Macca?

The hills. There are at least 30% more uphill sections on a track independent of the direction you walk it.

What Macca animal do you feel represents you best and why?

I have been caricatured as an elephant seal by the talented Nick Cartwright but I identify more with the chinstrap penguin. It doesn’t usually live here but has been known to visit occasionally.

What is the one thing you miss most whilst on the island?

Fast Internet connection speeds.

What do you NOT miss about normal life whilst on the island?

Queues, traffic and crowds.

What do you like doing outside of work on Macca?

A bit of photography of both wildlife and aurora when possible (ugh the clouds!), catching up on some books I’ve been meaning to read.

Name your go-to snack whilst out in the field?

Sesame seed bar or chocolate coated muesli bar.

Identify your favourite piece of AAD (Australian Antarctic Division) — issued kit?

The yellow sledging cap has been noted by a few previous interviewees and it does rate highly on my list but my top item would have to be the merino thermals.

One thing you wish you had packed but didn’t?

My electric bike. Though I’d be limited to using it on the roads at station.

Is there anyone you would like to give a shout-out to back at home?

Hey Rowdy! Good to see you’re getting some use out of my BBQ. The pressure cleaner is in the shed…