Macca's census of everything!

Animal counts

Bit of a theme going here but it’s all about animal surveys on Macquarie Island. Is it a creature? We’ll count it! So it’s obviously high time to see what the human creatures are up to at exactly 3:15pm on a Wednesday afternoon.

Derek (esteemed leader) sits in his office with suitably officious documents open on the desktop. His mobile is up to his ear, having just hit ‘call’, trying to catch Hully over at Operations about something no doubt important. Derek is open enough to admit that if I came by even just 5 minutes later I’d be just as likely to find him lying on his office couch.

Millsy (diesel mechanic) is towing the diesel tank trailer behind the rusty green tractor. He is putting it along from the general direction of Warren the incinerator. Millsy looks incredibly happy on that tractor – greasy high-vis, smiling away, sunnies on, wind in his hair. I don’t know where he is going, or why, but it’s the most ‘dieso’ thing I’ve ever seen.

Lewis (electrician) is on slushy and has got the mess absolutely spotless. Lewis spent years managing hostels in North America and aside from many memories and stories, the work gave him a genuinely impressive ability to do an industrial clean.

Scottish (carpenter) is loose in the Field Store looking for rope and webbing. This could be for a job, this could be for some kind of masterful artistic project. There isn’t enough time for explanations.

Billy (Field Training Officer) is following Scottish around the Field Store steering him away from the good ropes and webbing. She is holding a carabineer (just in case). We would expect nothing less from this star of a FTO. Billy is busy talking about ropes and regaling all in earshot with several anecdotes told at the same time (one of her skills). None of the anecdotes help me work out why they are looking for ropes and webbing.

Brownie (plumber) is preparing his October monthly report. He doesn’t need reminding that it is now November 3 and that the report is due. Unfortunately Brownie’s work schedule was derailed last week – he had to get very hands on with the sewerage system and the post-mix machine suffered a catastrophic issue with something to do with the bubbles. I think the station could have put up with no sewerage system longer than no post-mix machine.

Conrad (carpenter and Building Services Supervisor) is valiantly battling with his emails while he waits for Brownie’s report. According to Brownie, Conrad did not specifically consent to being in some of the photos of the Hass House bathroom upgrade. So Brownie has ‘anonymised’ Conrad using Microsoft paint. While this is funny, it does not fit with Conrad’s consistently neat, meticulous, and highly competent approach to all facets of his job – which includes trade reports.

Alex (Plant operator, general trades, ranger in training) is painting the post office door. Even though MI station is a bit ‘rustic’, it’s home and a fresh coat of paint goes a long way. Alex makes anyone (person or seal) who walks past him laugh.

Jeff (Comms tech) is staring at the grey skies and sussing out the 30kn winds. There is work to be done on repeaters down the island and precious few weather windows to do it. Jeff is heading to the carpenter’s workshop to check on one his projects. And by project I mean incredible creations of outstanding craftsmanship which cause sentimental meltdowns when gifted.

Ray (carpenter) is driving up the isthmus in an all terrain vehicle (I’m not joking). He has a tray full of tools and gives a booming thumbs up as he scoots in a wide arc around the piles of seals. This week is Ray’s birthday week. Happy birthday Ray!

Greg (BOM) isn’t observing the weather today – the joys of shift-work means he is celebrating his Saturday on a Wednesday. I didn’t barge into Greg’s room at survey o’clock, in the spirit of all the animal surveys we aim to be minimally intrusive. That evening Greg tells me he was packing and sorting E-cons. Greg is set to leave on L’Astrolabe back to Hobart and is packing now to free up time for one last trip down this special island.

Nick (chef) had a big morning making arancini balls, a couple of salads, bread and a blue cheese/almond/broccoli soup. He’s just back from the gym, and is getting full traditional roast ready for tonight. Nick uses the ski-erg in the gym. Pure torture. I think it helps numb the emotional torment of his football team being entirely reliant on the muscular, air-brushed brilliance of self-possessed Portuguese superstar who potentially doesn’t represent the rough and humble spirit of the streets of Manchester. (Atalanta 2 – Man. United 2 this am.)

Rob (doctor) spent the night at Bauer Bay and got distracted this morning trying to eradicate some roof mould at the hut. Part in the name of hygiene, part just being pedantic. But he left it a bit late to get back in time for the station meeting. It required a power walk into the wind. Now he can’t work out why his knees hurt.

Layla (BOM) has just finished her 3pm observations and is on her way to hydroponics to test the pH and facilitate love between the male and female cucumber flowers. At the time of the survey she was unclogging a tomato sauce bottle in the mess trying to talk Nick into giving her one of the profiteroles he has made for dessert.

Kim (Wildlife Ranger) has organised, facilitated and executed all these animal surveys and now has begun sifting through the mountains of data. As far as I can tell, this process will result in graphs. This isn’t a small task for Kim, but she is still smiling.

Shelley (Ranger In Charge) is also bunkered down in the Parks Office. Unfortunately we haven’t got Shelley’s laugh, diabolical walking speed and ranger wisdom here for much longer – she is also booked to head back home on the L’Astrolabe in a few weeks. Today Shelley is putting together a handover for Ro – the incoming RIC (and one of five new expeditioners we are excited to see here at Macca in a few weeks).