A multitude of celebrations this week had us all involved in some fun filled days of frivolity and silliness. Our station communications technical officers (SCTOs) Rich and Rob shared a birthday on 25 January, turning a collective 82 years old! Chef Jimmy celebrated his birthday with an all-station public holiday on 26 January (Australia Day). Our Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife summer ranger Rowena celebrated her birthday on Friday 29 January.
Festivities have been plentiful all week. In addition to the ongoing strains of ‘Happy Birthday to you…' ringing through the air, all manner of fun and games have been going on.
A firm tradition here is the printing of the puzzle page from the Hobart Mercury, which is delivered to the mess at smoko (morning tea). On Monday the puzzle took on a distinctly Macca theme, with the comics, puzzles and even the crosswords having been prepared by some busy puzzle fairies. The find-a-word required expeditioners to solve cryptic clues then head out to locations around station on a scavenger hunt to find solutions.
A second all station round of ‘toothbrush murder’ was convened on the eve of Australia Day. We were each assigned a ‘victim’ to pursue. The aim of the game is to eliminate your target by showing them your toothbrush without anyone else witnessing your ‘attack’. This soon had us all suspicious of any expeditioners lurking in cold porches, or appearing out of nowhere in the less public areas of station, and particularly wary of anyone with their toothbrushes tucked into their belts! Unlike the previous round that endured for five days over Christmas and New Year, this round was all wrapped up by the end of the day on Australia Day, with Jimmy taking the crown as the last one standing. Rob B took the most victims (ten in all), and Robbie K made it through the entire game to be one of the last ‘survivors’, and all without claiming a single victim.
Australia Day celebrations kicked off with the traditional swim. In balmy 6°C weather we assembled for a group photo before throwing ourselves into the southern ocean on the west side of the isthmus. Feeling somewhat refreshed by our first dip we ran over to the east coast to test the water temperature on that side. Having navigated our way in and out of the rocky east coast beach, we all dashed for the spa and sauna to warm up.
We all enjoyed a late brunch and then broke off into teams to develop our respective rounds of the Australia Day challenges. Throughout the afternoon we enjoyed four rounds of Macquarie Island inspired events, each devised and hosted by one of the teams.
In a shout out to the beach visit that we all partake in when staying in the field huts, round one devised by team ‘Onederful’ had us running in a relay race with shovels, and then wrapped up with a ‘dung toss’. (Classy folk we are here at Macca! Don’t worry, it wasn’t real.)
For round two, team ‘Numbertoo’ provided all teams track markers to try and knock a king penguin carved of margarine from off its pedestal on the market square helipad.
Round three saw team ‘MIA’ fit out expeditioners in tarpaulin sacks, and channel their inner elephant seal to flabulate around an obstacle course and make the journey from market square to the front gate.
Finally round four, hosted by team ‘GenThree’ was a Gentoo race. Expeditioners dressed in penguin suits assumed the role of penguin chicks and parents, with the chick chasing down the parents to get fed. After catching the ‘parent penguin’ expeditioners in penguin suits had to feed a bowl of rice bubbles to their ’chick’ in the shortest amount of time.
The entire affair was hilarious, and many of us agreed that we hadn’t laughed so hard in quite a while!
Team ‘GenThree’ was victorious on account of the bonus points awarded to Rich by solving the aforementioned puzzles.
The remainder of the afternoon was spent listening to the TripleJ Hottest 100 countdown and enjoying a late afternoon spit roast at the green store.
Doc Mal organised an open mic session in the mess to round out the day, singing us a few tunes while joined by quite a number of expeditioners with hidden talents at the mic.
Buoyed by memories of a uniquely subantarctic Australia Day, we've all headed back to work or out into the field. The collective innovation and creativity of our remote community, finding fun and colourful ways to celebrate our special occasions, never ceases to produce amazing results!