As we move swiftly into the end of the second week of the new year already, we find our newly arrived summer expeditioners well settled in. Marcus has joined the albatross and giant petrel monitoring project team, and is already down in the south of the islands assisting fellow researcher Kim. Tim, our summer plumber is already well acquainted with the Gadgets Dam, and doctor Malcolm has slotted right back into Macca life (he only left in April 2015) with a daily walk up the aptly named Doctors Track. The dynamic ‘Stellaria media project’ duo of Jane and Karen have already completed field training and are based out at Bauer Bay hut this week.
The remediation team farewelled pocket rocket Helena, and have welcomed remediation scientist Jeremy. Jez is already discovering the wonders of digging test pits whilst being harassed by the locals (wildlife not expeditioners!).
The Macca crew had the pleasure of hosting Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife engineer Holley over the New Year period. Holley was undertaking structural assessments on various Tas Parks tourist infrastructure sites, and was closely acquainted with the dreaded Macca wallow whilst attempting surveying work near the old digester site! After a short eight day stay Holley headed back to Tassie, with as many photos as memories.
Unfortunately heavy rains just prior to Christmas generated some more landslides both upstream and downstream of our water supply dam at Gadgets Gully. For the second time in two months a team of expeditioners armed with shovels headed up the hill to de-silt the station water storage. A big thanks to Nick, Tim, Mark, Terry, Robbie, Mal and Jez for the shovel power!
Rob and Jac ventured out last week on a mission to install a temporary repeater for channel 21 at the Mt Jeffries site. A second task was to try and repair Channel 19 which had gone off the air at Mt Waite. After climbing Mt Waite, and Mt Jeffries (twice) in spirited Macca winds and low cloud, the pair were happy to report that Rob had repaired channel 21, with Jac cheering him on. Rob’s electronic wizardry has returned us VHF comms to the south of the island for the first time since May 2015. The repairs at Mt Waite proved to be more complex than originally expected and will be hopefully tackled in a separate trip this weekend.
On Saturday chef Jimmy, inspired by his recent guiding experience aboard tourist ship Le Soleal treated us all to some fine dining extravagance. The mess was converted into a sit down restaurant, complete with candles, and a magnificent three course meal was served up by celebrity wait staff Duncan (in full Japanese kimono), Tim, Paul and Karen.
Our station compound was invaded by sneaky and agile elephant seals over the New Year period. Some snuck through fences, a few walked through holes in said fences, but others were seen to climb atop cage pallets and belly flop over the fence. Who would have though such a seemingly immobile creature would actually climb atop a cage pallet! The charms of their burping, gurgling and general monkey-dog-children screeching noises whilst they all moult and wallow has become somewhat tiresome. In response, the great cage pallet corral of 2016 has commenced, and we are hoping that once done moulting they will all depart our yard headed for the sea, so that we can all get some sleep, and secure our station infrastructure.
Our week has ended with a subdued and reflective tone, as we pay our respects and turn our thoughts to the family, friends and colleagues of Heli Res pilot David Wood. We proudly flew the Canadian and Australian flags at half mast this week in the sparkling Macquarie Island sunshine before an honour guard of beautiful king penguins, and a rich celebration of life — our tribute to a fellow Antarctic community member who lived and worked in beautiful and remote places.