Why penguins walk the way they do

Why penguins walk the way they do

This week I learned why penguins walk the way they do. Let me explain …

Last month, two of my younger, fitter but definitely less handsome fellow expeditioners were lucky enough to assist our park rangers with the annual albatross surveys on the remote cliff faces at the very bottom of our beautiful island. The spirited pair set off from station and not only made it down to Hurd Point in a single day, but managed to include a siteseeing detour via the Tiobunga Track, looping around Major Lake, adding several kilometres to the already long trip.  

Now, hiking around the island can best be described as an 'honest walk' – the steep terrain, variable weather, mud and water underfoot make you earn every step, stack up a near 40km trip and it’s a serious day’s work!

After two months of living in the big smoke on station and with our summer personnel changeover complete, it was time for this little black duck to take a walk in the wilds. A plan was hatched to finally walk the Tiobunga Track southbound and attempt the Hurd to Station trek in one day, and what better time to do it than the week of the summer solstice with plenty of hours in the day to do so!

Unfortunately, the weather once again closed out and while I completed the planned loop of the Tiobunga track on the journey south to Hurd Point, I could see little more than the shores of Major Lake with heavy fog reducing visibility down to less than 50m.

At the evening sched from Hurd Point Hut, the weather forecast revealed that the very next day was the pick of the bunch for fair weather & good visibility and my best bet to finally see the vista around the Tio Track & Major Lake. After a spirited recount of previous hiking accomplishments over the radio – and what could only be perceived as a challenge laid down – there was only one thing left to do…. start the following day’s trip 10m behind the Hurd Point Hut and head for station via the Tiobunga Track, thus ensuring I finally see the Tio track in all its glory and the travelling distance would surpass the current season’s long distance record held by my younger counterparts.

Home safe and with the record now safely in hand I have learned one thing from the experience – penguins must always have sore legs, I haven’t stopped walking like one since I got back!

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from all of the Macca Team! Take care and will chat to you all in the new year.

Jon Hatton – Macca Engineering & Services Supervisor & 2023 Macquarie Island Hiking Champion