A definition of island time

Macca Time

A random dictionary I found in the Macquarie Island library defines time as:

"the continuous passage of existence in which events pass from a state of potentiality in the future, through the present, to a state of finality in the past."

Simple word, complicated definition. Maybe.

We use time to define so many of our current states, emotions and feelings. Behind time, on time, not enough time, one at a time, from time to time, wasting time, in one’s own time, behind the times, ahead of the times, closing time, point in time, the best of times or the time of your life!

We all know about time, or at least we think we do. You can’t see it, smell it or hear it – but you definitely can feel it. Time is our most valuable possession and it is the only thing we can’t get more of. We need to squeeze as much life out of it as we can and that’s something that all of us living and working down here definitely understand.

However, this article isn’t about the philosophy of time. That discussion is much better suited to a small group, in a field hut, somewhere out and about on this beautiful little island, ideally over a glass of red wine or two if you managed to successfully carry it out there in the first place! Rather, this is a snapshot of some of the markers we use for viewing, measuring and marking the passage of time for the 74th ANARE at Macquarie Island.

  • 10am – smoko! Daily, weekdays. Set your watch by it.
  • 1.25 years – our period of employment with the Australian Antarctic Program
  • 12-14 months – once hatched, the time it takes for a king penguin chick to fledge
  • 52 weeks – our time to savour life on this amazing island
  • 317 days – average rainy days per year at Macca
  • 225 days – an estimate of the amount of time our rangers will spend out in the field
  • 200 or so – days to go on Macca until the RSV Nuyina comes to get us in 2022. We think …
  • 9 months – gestation period for a female southern elephant seal
  • 78 days – incubation period for a wandering albatross egg
  • 40 days – moult period for southern elephant seals in late summer
  • 4 weeks – lactation period for a southern elephant seal with her pups gaining up to 9kg/day
  • 7.30pm Mondays – Mr Robot. Will this show ever end?
  • 31-39 days – incubation period for a gentoo penguin egg
  • 13 days – number of days our inlet water pipes were frozen in July
  • 7-10 days – preferred duration of my jolly around the island each month. 6 more to go.
  • 1 week on/ week off – time spent on fire team and the Emergency Response Team roster
  • 3.5 days – mean number of clear weather days over a year at Macca. Yes, 3.5 days.
  • 3 days – time to sail from Hobart to Macquarie Island, a distance of ~1500km
  • 2 days – the number of times you’re on the ‘slushy’ roster each month
  • 8hrs – how long it took Dr Rob to walk from Hurd Point back to Station at his first crack at it
  • 4-5hrs – average time it takes to walk halfway down the island to Green Gorge
  • 30-60 minutes – average time to walk up the dreaded ‘Doctors’ hill to Three Ways
  • 17 minutes – the time it takes to complete the Good Weekend quiz after brunch on Saturdays
  • 13 minutes – the average time it takes Scottish or Nick to beat you at darts
  • Daily – how often we continue to submit ourselves to a thrashing at darts by either Scottish or Nick
  • <5 minutes – the average time it takes the Fire Team to respond to an alarm
  • 3 seconds – the average time spent by a chippie deciding whether to walk or drive the Polaris to a job. And yes, the Polaris always wins!
  • 0 days – time spent wishing you were on any of the other Antarctic stations instead of Macca
  • 0 days – time spent wishing you were anywhere else on the planet at this particular point in time

    From Derek and your friendly neighbourhood Macca crew

PS. Thanks heaps to Kim for the photos from our last trip out together in July. She’s an amazing photographer!!