Chef Justin Chambers takes over the news this week, and shares some of his extraordinary images. There’s an update on marine debris collection, a birthday and the weekly cartoon.

Marine debris collection and counting birds

So it was that time of the month where the rangers at Macca are looking for volunteers to help them go and pick up bits of marine debris at Bauer Bay. As I did not have any other plans for the weekend and having done the marine debris on my first trip out, I volunteered. The trip got better for me when helping Andrea conduct the monthly bird survey on the northern featherbed was included. The area for the bird survey is only open for a short period of time for travel in the middle of the year and, as part of the trip, we carried out some new track markers to identify key turning points in the track for other expeditioners to follow.

Andrea and I headed to Bauer Bay via the Island Lake track and having travelled it once thought I can carry the new fire extinguisher for the hut with us. After surviving several attempts by Andrea to relieve me of the 500g fire blanket we headed off. It turned out that my field famil trip had been perfect training for this one as the conditions were exactly the same. Foggy and windy! After an uneventful walk we made it to the hut and shed our packs. As I went and turned on the power it felt like my right shoulder felt lighter than my left. I couldn’t think of a reason why this would be as my pack was evenly weighted on both. Then it hit me. The wind on the entire walk was blowing into our right and so I had adjusted for it in my walk and only realised when in the shelter of the hut with my pack off.  We settled in and awaited the arrival of the other willing debris collectors.

After a night of blustery winds, where some of us were wondering when the last time the roof had been checked, we were up and on the beach early to a beautiful still morning. After gathering a wayward collector we started our emu parade up and down the beach picking up what man made objects we could see. We collected a nice little pile and Andrea packaged it up ready for processing. After a quick hot drink we packed up, said our goodbyes to the other team, picked up our bundle of track markers and headed off to count birds. This could have proven troublesome (not for Andrea) as you should know the type of bird you are counting. Luckily for me most of the birds have left by now for other areas, leaving mostly giant petrels, so I could just count what I saw and let Andrea worry about the types.

A little into our walk it started snowing and settling on the ground quickly providing a beautiful white carpet for us to walk on. Because there are some boggy bits in the featherbeds this could prove tricky but it made the path easy to see and they stood out a little better because of the standing water melting the snow. We saw quite a few giant petrels, kelp gulls, Macquarie Island shags, terns and some ducks. We rounded Handspike point just as the sun came out for a great view of the station covered in snow. After a little more travel I left the last marker at the top of the beach at the entrance to the featherbeds and started thinking of the hot shower that awaited me.

Silver lining

If every cloud has a silver lining. Clouds seem to form a large part of the daily vista here on Macquarie Island. From peachy pastels in the morning — though mainly more than a few shades of grey — through to mauve and the crimsons of dusk. Life on Macca through winter is, so far, a wet, windy and silvery affair. Well, that was until Monday.

Carpe diem, the famous aphorism used in Horace’s Odes 1.11:

Don’t ask (it’s forbidden to know) what end
the gods have given me or you, Leuconoe. Don't play with Babylonian
numerology either. How much better it is to endure whatever will be!
Whether Jupiter has allotted you many more winters or this one,
which even now wears out the Tyrrhenian sea on the opposing rocks, is the final one
be wise, be truthful, strain the wine, and scale back your long hopes
to a short period. While we speak, envious time will have {already} fled:
seize the day, trusting as little as possible in the next day

Wow, this Monday past was truly the day to seize.

It snowed throughout Sunday so myself and Richo made our way back to station from Green Gorge over land being constantly sprinkled with tiny flakes of dancing ice. Twenty-four hours later and snow fell to sea level. Monday woke to a spectacle of wonder.

A white blanket had fallen over the entire island and crunched underfoot as we made tasks with our daily work. Soft sand was now hardened, sight services revealed themselves as melted areas of ground that shot out from buildings like well worn paths from a folk festival. The wind had abated the previous evening and decided to play truant again this day along with its sidekick precipitation. Work around station was conducted with an added spring in the step and cameras clicked away throughout the short solar cycle. The magical winter wonderland laid out before us gave a much needed contrast and recharge on perspectives.

Island life is work, rest and play just like home, and on days like this one, also full of wonders like a holiday to a far off land. I’m looking forward to cooler temperatures and clear days ahead with memory cards formatted and shutters ready to go.


Over the weekend our station leader Jacque celebrated her birthday — 21 again! She chose the party theme ‘Under the Sea’ (or was that ‘Under the C’?), a reflection of her love of all things marine. The mess was decorated with nets and improvised fish and jellyfish, with a backdrop of sea videos playing on the movie screen.

All manner of sea creatures arrived, including a hammerhead shark, a whale, a blue-ringed octopus and King Neptune himself. King Neptune is quite a talented bloke — he (our chef, Justin) created an amazing manta ray birthday cake for Jacque. It was almost too good to cut up — almost.

After the feasting, the sea life danced the evening away on the seafloor.

Last word