Heading home from the "green sponge"

My first winter

This is the end for me, well almost. I’m two weeks away from the end of my journey, but let me take you back to the beginning.

My season actually began at Casey station as one of the summer plant operators. It was an interesting season to say the least with all the challenges of COVID. In mid-January I was approached for a winter role on Macca (Macquarie Island). I was crazy excited for the opportunity to have a winter so early into my Antarctic career. So, when I of course said ‘YES’, I left behind some important people to me in Australia knowing I wouldn’t see them for a long time.

The MPV Everest was coming to pick me up. It is an ice strengthened ship that the AAD organised to undertake the station's resupplies that year. When the ship arrived into the bay we all celebrated with a nice glass of water! The next day resupply kicked-off and I helped with the station side of things. The day before the end of resupply I was on the ship heading back to Australia. Nine days I was on that ship, some of them good and some of them VERY bad (I get seasick). After a long nine days I was back in Australia for just four days, before getting onto another ship bound for Macca. Hectic turn around, I know!

The ship we took to Macca was a lot smaller than the Everest, so suffice to say I had a bad time on that ship too, even though I was later told that the waves were friendly. Finally on 3rd March, after a journey that began mid-January at Casey, I arrived at my new home.

As I was the late comer, I spent the first few weeks trying to get to know the crew I would be working and living with for the next year. It wasn’t till later that I would come to see them not as work colleagues, but as a support network, a family away from family.

Field training came around fast and before I knew it, we were out in the field. I got to do a few trips around the island and I am happy for all the amazing things that I have seen. Unfortunately, before I knew it my season, like any good movie, was turned on its head. I had a rough time with an injury stopped me from heading down the island, which down here is a nice way to change the daily routine. Being isolated is hard and people deal with it any way they can. Walking down to see the beautiful island we call home has to be number one on our list.

Mid-winters came and went and I found myself occupying time on station crafting things from wood and doing my best to keep fit. I took on plenty more duties outside of my role which included painting, and lots of it. I enjoyed anything different from the normal roles.

As the months changed so did the animals. We started getting more elephant seals coming in, and all the penguins who left around April came back! Seeing them again made me realise how fast time was going. Soon my first winter would be over and I would be back home with friends and family.

I managed to get myself down to the Nuggets with a team for an amazing sunny day. It was my first time off station in months and I got some amazing photos. My one goal for the season was to get photos of the Orcas close to shore, and I am very happy to report yesterday I finally got those photos. It was an amazing experience watching them in the water.

Next Friday is our end of winter dinner and very soon after that the French ship L'Astrolabe will be coming back to take me home. I haven’t seen my family and friends since October 2020 and I am very excited to see them all. There are some particular people who I am dying to see... but in saying that, it’s also bittersweet because of new friends and 'family' I have to say goodbye to here. I wanted to thank all from the 74th ANARE for making my winter super special. Don’t miss me too much, as impossible as that is.

For the very last time this is Alex, your famous story teller from Macca, and the always friendly neighbourhood Macca crew.