There aren’t many people who are or have been lucky enough to call Macquarie Island home. For those who are, Macca offers an incredible wild, windy, spectacular and ever-changing place.
To be fair, the last few months have been fairly cold, snowy, rainy and windy and this is likely to continue for the foreseeable future. But if you embrace the weather and the outdoors, Macca really delivers something special every day. Snow-capped hills, creeks gushing with water and waterfalls. One minute you’ll be watching king penguin chicks trying to escape the beaks of hungry giant petrels and the next you’ll find the smallest snail, the endemic, Phrixgnathus hamiltoni (2.5 mm), sticking to your glove.
With winter almost behind us and spring just around the corner, you can feel the island gearing up for all the wildlife to return. Over winter we were kept company by the gentoo penguins and juvenile elephant seals, which caused many smiles. Now, with spring approaching we’ve been watching the adult male elephant seals returning, slowly staking out their territory. It’s an impressive amount of blubber with an even more impressive proboscis (nose of a mature male elephant seal). Soon the weaners (baby elephant seals) will also join our island menagerie! Something we are all looking forward to.
I’ve been lucky enough to be able to spend many days walking across the island, and it is superb. Meandering along the plateau, hopping down a slope to a field hut, enjoying a hot BCJ (Macca special; hot water and Black Currant Juice), or balancing on rocks to do your morning business, no day is the same. Though you don’t need to venture far to experience the wildness of the island. You only need to wander down to the beach at station, place yourself on a tussock or a rock and watch “David Attenborough“ live. Maybe it’s watching a leopard seal snooze as it recovers from a big swim, a sea lion climb over the station limit fence or the endemic cormorants dry out their wings. Every time I do, it reminds me why I’m here, away from family and friends, and why this place is so special.
So here we are, the last week of winter, getting ready for the spring. It will be lovely to start thinking about a sun tan instead of having to drink vitamin D. If only….
The friendly Macca Field Training Officer