Business as usual this week on Macca with sports in the store ramping up, and a surprise indian food feast.

Station update

Our planning for our midwinter day celebrations continues. We have been sending out invitations to people far and wide and are excitedly awaiting the RSVPs to come in. Many of us who have chosen to participate in the midwinters day swim are starting to think seriously about our swimwear, and footwear choices. Unlike the continental stations who have a warm Hägglunds to dive into, we Macca expeditioners have the triple swim challenge of dipping in the water on the east side of the isthmus, a trans-coastal run dodging seals and kelp over to the west coast, followed up by a west coast dip, and a run back to station to warm up!

The indoor sports scene has boomed over the last week here, with the table tennis finally set up and the basketball hoop seeing some trick shot action. The cacophony created in the green store last Sunday by bouncing ping pong balls and dribbling basketballs was fit for a modern symphony. Our treadmill is in heavy use, with people having set training goals for a mid year fun run. For many I believe this is a cover, and that most are secretly training to run across the isthmus faster to get the swim over and done with!

Rich held a fun ropes and knot tying session in the mess, and we all practiced many knots and roping techniques required by the technical roping system that we use in the event of a search and rescue on steep slopes.

A wonderful night was enjoyed by all on Saturday night, as we were cooked a delicious vegetarian Indian food extravaganza by Ranger, Anna. For the details check out the accompanying story!

This week we also had a screening of the 2014 Antarctic 48-hour film festival entries. The festival is held every year in August. We held a screening so all of our first time expeditioners could see what is was all about. It was particularly wonderful to see these films coming into midwinter celebrations, to appreciate just how unique the opportunity is to be a part of a group of so few people from many nations who are spending their winter on a research station in the Antarctic and subantarctic.

Aside from all of the fun and frivolity on station, we are all progressing well with our work, despite the shortened daylight hours and some weather related challenges. This week our water supply has been frozen so the station is becoming more water smart. Some rather innovative and inventive water conservation measures have been thrown about in discussion, but for now some common sense may just keep our usage to an acceptable rate. We all have our fingers and toes crossed, in the hope that the water will defrost in time to run the spa for midwinter swim day!

Macca’s May weather summary

Winter firmly settled in at Macquarie Island station during the month of May with temperatures cooling right down, more frequent snowfalls occurring, and even the odd temperature record being broken. The month of May saw our station experience 29 strong wind days, 15 days of gales, six days with snowfall, seven days with hail and 12 days with mist.

Winter definitely made it’s mark on May this year with the lowest minimum temperature being −4.8°C on 24 May, breaking the previous monthly record of −4.5°C set on 30 May 1976. Maximum temperatures weren’t as extreme with the month’s average maximum temperature being 6.2°C, only 0.7°C cooler than the long term average.

It was a relatively wet month for us here on the island. Monthly precipitation (including both rain and snow amounts) totalled 122.3 mm, 28.7 mm higher than the long term average. Despite all this precipitation, skies cleared long enough for us to witness six nights of majestic auroras.

As we are now upon the winter solstice, all on station are rugging up and looking forward to what further winter weather this island will reveal.

Ranger Anna’s Indian food banquet

A wonderful night was enjoyed by all on Saturday night, as we were cooked a delicious vegetarian Indian food extravaganza by Ranger Anna. Magic was being worked all day in the kitchen, and the final product was revealed to us that evening in a colour and flavour tapestry.

Delectable dishes such as ‘Not on your Nella Dan naan bread', ‘Green Gorge beans’, ‘Thanks dahl’, and ‘Chickpea creche’ were accompanied by papadums and side dishes, and ‘Ranger rice’. Chef Justin slushied for Anna and was technical advisor on the spice front. Ben took on the role of pappadum maker, or should we say ‘Petreldum’ maker.

It is wonderful to have so many expeditioners keen to be chef for the day on the weekends, and add their flair to the meals that we all enjoy.

The reluctant enthusiast

One final paragraph of advice: do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am — a reluctant enthusiast…a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space.”

These sage words, from American environmentalist and author Edward Abbey, greet each expeditioner as they cross the hearth and enter the hut at Bauer Bay on Macca’s rugged west coast. They remind us to get out there and enjoy this magnificent land around us.

On a recent trip from Bauer Bay, down the featherbed to Aurora Cave, the weather cooperated allowing me to break out my camera. It’s moments like these that I love sharing with my friends and family. Looking back over the pictures now, it conjures memories of the heart warming glow that sweeps over me when I’m out soaking up nature’s goodness. But photos alone don’t cut it anymore, it’s actually boots in the mud, wind battering the face, rain soaking the skin, and then the sun breaking through the clouds to warm you up again. These are the moments that remind you that you are alive, that you are part of something bigger than your cubicle and your job. Abbey had something to say about that too, but I'll leave it to you and Google to find the second part of the above quote.

To finish, I'll leave you with another of my favourites from Edward Abbey.

“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view.” 

So, I repeat. Get out there!

Rich Youd 

Photo gallery

The last word…