Get to know our resident diesel mechanic Mike Coombe

Macquarie Island's Mechanic 2023

I’m Mike the dieso from sunny Mackay and I’m the mechanic on the island. This my first time traveling this far south with the AAD.

This role for me started with a phone call from the mechanical supervisor in Kingston asking if I was still interested in working at Macquarie island. So after some organising and then several weeks training in Hobart I found myself on a ship bound for Macca. After three days steaming south and a quick LARC ride from the ship to shore, I met the outgoing dieso. After several days of handovers we waved goodbye to the 75th crew and proceeded to make ourselves at home.

I soon received my current nick name of “Middle Class Mike” as my accommodation was moved from Southern Aurora Donga (SAD) to Garden Cove ~ although I’m not so sure it was an upgrade. I can live with the outcome and the nickname thanks to my 76th crew.

One of my highlights thus far would have to be checking out and learning about the wildlife. We have Gentoo penguins, low flying Giant petrels and a grumpy hooker seal that sneaks around the station at night and scares passers-by with a GROWL (note to all - we must remember to close the gate at night!).

We all received the standard clothing kit before deployment which has been in good use. My AAD beanie was my favourite until it shrunk in the wash! So, now my favourite would be my Carhartt jacket ~ I don’t think it will get a wash too soon.

My role as the dieso is to service and maintain the machinery which seems to age excessively fast due to the harsh environment on the island. Power generation is also a large part of my role, and this consists of daily observations on a regular basis. One of my tasks was to perform a midlife rebuild on one of the Cat C9 engines. This consisted of changing out several components so the engine will perform for another 15000 hours, we have just completed this task and hope to return this engine back to work shortly.

We recently did field training which consisted of walking for four hours south to Bauer Bay hut on the west coast, a sleepover then back to the station the next day. The weather wasn’t too kind to us, but we enjoyed the time off station and have plans for several more treks around the island to check out the wildlife at Macca.

We arrived at Macquarie Island on 22 March and one of the top highlights for me would be celebrating my birthday, Macca style with a large cake with candles followed by happy birthday sung by all. Just being at Macca is a highlight enough for me and I hope the rest of the season goes smoothly.

Cheers all,

Michael Coombe

PS: I would like to shout out to Sue and the family who are keeping the home fires burning during my deployment - see you soon!

PPS: I would also like to send a shout out to Adam's Mum!