So with the lengthening of the days (ok steady on Billy, it t’was Midwinter's but yesterday), I am given pause for reflection on the season so far.
In some ways it seems like only yesterday I was heading out down island with small groups of three for our Macquarie Island travel training. Some of the key elements for any Macca expeditioner to learn include tenacity, bravery, communication, good humour in the face of defeat, fair play, good gamespersonship, support and how to smile when things just never seem to go your way.
I find the best way to do this is by encouragement, a safe learning environment and role modelling behaviours. When this doesn’t work I then introduce everyone to the game of Yhatzee. Teach them the game, allow them to win once or twice until they are hooked...then beat them all mercilessly, taking each group down, one by one, individual by individual. Ahhhh yes Yhatzee - a dice game invented to be played on a Yhat (I mean yacht).
The skills learnt by all players of Yhatzee I would like to think will last a lifetime. The game of Yhatzee may seem subtle to some, even skilless to others but if you scratch the surface I believe this game is a reflection of life on this island…or should we call Macca a yacht? A yacht in the middle of the ‘Furious 50s’, a small boat with not much room for personal space, where one person’s beard hairs can become every person’s beard hairs!
But let me not get lost in my similes. It was never going to be easy for any of the travel training groups, lovingly known as the Guinea Pigs, Hooker sea lions, Tubenoses, Rockhoppers, and Slugs to beat the Yhatzee Queen…It wasn’t their fault, I had played the game before….many times before. So with that in mind I would like to thank them all for their bravery and participation, for this shows real heart, especially the 2nd, 3rd, 4th & 5th groups who had a fair idea of what they were in for.
As the travel training trips went on, I became more and more impressed by individuals saying to me ‘Billy I just can’t wait to play Yhatzee tonight’ or 'Billy I know you must be really tired from our full thoroughly excellent day in the field, but could we just play one more game of Yhatzee?’ It really was impressive. I would like to thank all the participants of the Macquarie Island 74th ANARE, for yes, I believe everyone tried out for a chance at the title. Some folk came close, really close. I was impressed at their tenacity, heart, and most of all their undying belief that anything was possible.
So to finish off and to sum up, I would like to say, that although ‘no man is an island’, I strongly believe ‘Macquarie Island is a yacht’.
Thank you Macquarie Island Yhatzee contenders, you all rock.
(The one and only true Yhatzee Queen of Macca)
The scars that run deep at the moment are starting to heal, and one day maybe gone altogether. Luckily however memories can be forever.