Well, what a couple of weeks for the new incoming winter team for Macca. After months of training in specialised technical skills, search and rescue techniques, science project support, firefighting and how to run a post office, we said farewell to our family and friends on the 10th of March to spend a few days on the RSV Aurora Australis as we sailed down to Macquarie Island.
There were plenty of ohhs and ahhs as the Green Sponge appeared on the horizon and the welcoming party of gentoos, king penguins and a wide variety of birdlife flew or swam out to have a look at the Aurora and the Island’s new inhabitants. There were also a few worried looks on some of the new team’s faces as the realisation of how big the hills are on either side of the station and maybe some regret on the lack of hill climbs and treks attempted in the lead up months before arriving on station.
The first few days on the island provided some cracking weather which allowed the team to jump straight into resupply tasks and handovers from the outgoing team. Helicopters, LARCs (lighter amphibious resupply cargo vehicle), IRBs (inflatable rubber boat), and plenty of plant equipment filled the island with activity as a year’s worth of food, toilet paper, replacement parts and fuel were transferred into the station. Round trip projects from Geoscience Australia, ARPANSA (Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency), CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation), the Macquarie Island Modernisation project team and various other maintenance tasks got stuck in to help keep the station running at 100 percent.
After a very busy week the station was handed over from Ivor and the crew of the 72nd ANARE to some very enthusiastic penguins and the 73rd ANARE. There were a few sighs of relief as the outgoing team could finally put their feet up knowing that the station and their home has been left in some very capable hands.
As per tradition, the new team set off some flares from the Ham Shack to farewell the Aurora as she departed Macca for the very last time. The island thought it would be fitting to throw up an Aurora and give the old girl a fitting farewell for her last journey home!