This week at Macca, we get the 'real' 2023 Midwinter lowdown from a special guest star author!

A tale of two Midwinters

Caveat – The following story is of autobiographical nature:

There’s a particular date in every Antarctic expeditioner’s calendar that gives them a true sense of accomplishment. We celebrate this day on Winter Solstice, the 21st of June, though we affectionately refer to it as Midwinters. It marks the shortest day of the year, signifies the gradual return of the sun, and acts as a symbolic halfway point through most people’s Antarctic journey. On this occasion we laud those who endured hardship before us and marvel at their tales of survival and success. We recognise the sacrifices of not only those who venture South, but the brave loved ones who stay at home. We take a moment to appreciate the friendships formed. A date in which we acknowledge human-kinds achievements in our quest to understand the Antarctic and Sub-Antarctic regions. Above all else and most importantly, we praise the chef for the feast we eat (thanks Jords!).

As beautiful as all this is, it is of no significance to me. For I am Brewce, a New Zealand fur seal. Born on the Isthmus' Eastern shores into a typical working-class New Zealand fur seal family, my youth was spent chasing Gentoos around Garden Cove and Secluded Beach. Despite the occasional trip North to my spiritual homeland of Aotearoa, or extended trips to sea, Macquarie is my full-time island home. For the duration of my life I have been happy to share this piece of paradise with others. Though, recently I have been growing increasingly frustrated with those that walk upright on their two rear flippers. The strain on our relationship has quite honestly become untenable in light of recent events that occurred at my local surf break Nuggets Point.

I guess it started after the publishment of a recent puff piece about “The Macquarie Island Board Riders Club (MIBRC) – The Mind Surfers” which has brought unwanted media attention to a break that me and my family have managed to keep secret for generations. I was happy to turn the cheek, let bygones be bygones. Afterall, we don’t get that many visitors. But no. The MIBRC have let it go to their heads, coming out to Nuggets thinking they own the joint. Tensions boiled over when Damo “Duck Dive” Everett blatantly dropped in on me on the wave of the day. Not only was this highly disrespectful, it was down-right dangerous. But upon further reflection, what really hurt the most was that I considered him a close personal friend. After this he cowered off and didn’t even acknowledge it had happened. I thought perhaps the always honourable club president Helen “Hang-Ten” may have apologised on Duck Dive’s behalf, as I’ve always felt that she ‘gets’ me on a deeper level than the others. But alas, nothing.

I thought I would be the bigger seal and extend an olive branch of forgiveness. Unable to find Duck Dive I decided to wait around and catch up with “Dingo” Dan, but every time I saw him or anyone else all they ran from me, even if I ran after them calling their name. Lord knows I’ve tried to make amends. As a last resort I turned to mimicking their behaviour, sleeping in front of the Old Brewery door, something I’ve seen them do so many times before. I thought time would heal the wounds, so I ventured out to sea for many-a-month.

As customary, I headed home on the shortest day of the year, yet what am I greeted to upon returning? A locked gate at my very own home. Tired, all I wanted to do was get into my tussock bed and sleep. As I waddle past the mess window I see them all having a party. I briefly stop and ponder what could have been. In this moment the Ranger in Charge (RIC) Paul “Party Wave” Black rises to give a toast. The following brings tears to my eyes. I’m stuck by the eloquent nature of his speech praising the beauty of my home, its now I realise that they do indeed love me! Later that night and post interpretive dance I perched myself atop my tussock throne with them below chanting “Brewce! Brewce! Brewce! Brewce! Brewe! Brew! Brew! Brew!...... Bring Back the Brew! Brewce! Brewce! Brewce!” – Ahhhh it’s great to have things back to normal.

**No New Zealand fur seal’s were hurt or shamed in the writing of this story. We love you Brewce.

This Station News was bought and paid for by: Jon Hatton - Engineering & Services Supervisor of the 76th ANARE Macquarie Island 2023

(All proceeds to the Macquarie Island Conservation Foundation)

Author: Brewce Macquarie - New Zealand fur seal of the 76th ANARE Macquarie Island 2023