This week, one of the 2023 winter plant operators offers some reflections on the year so far.

Merce’s reflections on the 2023 Macca year so far…

We've hit the ground running at Macquarie Island this season!

We've had two resupplies in less than three months, some major infrastructure projects already underway and everyone’s favourite time of the year – the midwinter swim and celebrations.

In amongst the daily station life, we also have the great 'Green Sponge' to explore. We've all done our best to head off station to explore the many features of the Island, however being a pristine UNESCO World Heritage Site, there are a lot of areas that are closed throughout the year for many reasons. One of these areas is along the west coast on the way to Bauer Bay hut – The Infamous Featherbed.

This Special Management Area is only open for 6–8 weeks per year to limit interaction with sensitive breeding seabirds. I was lucky enough to have some time along the featherbed, exploring the amazing natural features that many will never be privy to. The featherbed is one of the strangest hikes I've ever been on. The ground is best described as a wet spongy trampoline that can swallow you whole at each and every step. Along the way to Bauer Bay, I was witness to some of the most amazing rock features, coastal scenery and curious wildlife. We also explored off the main track and made a short visit to Eagle Cave, where a small band of shipwrecked explorers survived for two years in the harsh sub-Antarctic environment.

On our final stretch home, we joined up with a team from station being led by one of our amazing park rangers – the team had trekked out from station early that morning to assist the ranger with some coastal debris clean-up and caching. Whilst at times a seemingly endless and thankless task, the ongoing work by rangers and the station team to collect marine debris is making a slow but steady difference to improving the coastline!

Enjoy your winter everyone – Merce

Greg ‘Merce’ Mercer – Plant Operator, 76th ANARE Macquarie Island 2023