Tuesday, December 24, 2013

58 - A short hop, skip and the magnificent Macca...........

Hello once again Friends,

This, I'm sure, is the one many have been waiting for but your going to have to listen to me dribble a little bit before we get to the good stuff. That is of course unless you've not read this and gone strait to the good stuff and I'm going to warn you ITS A BIG ONE but lots of pics!

SO, I last time left you with the arrival of the AA to pick us up. Only 2 weeks late however and what was Voyage 2 was not Voyage 2/3 Macca resupply and Casey resupply. Macca is only a short hop skip and a 3 day jump from Hobart. To put it in better perspective below is a map.


Basically Macca is Half way between Hobart and New Zealand and half way down to Antarctica. It is a extremely significant place for both historic and flora/fauna reasons. 34km long, 5.5 wide and about 300 rain days a year, check out there annual weather HERE. Firstly for the historic bit,  Macca was founded by Captain Hasselburgh of the Ship the Perseverance on 18 July 1810. Captain Hasselburgh names the island after the then Governor of NSW Lachlan Macquarie but he was in search of new areas for sealing for oil. He intern has his name on one of the accommodation buildings here currently. 

Three other ships also found the island and within 18 months 120,000 fur seals had been killed. Lots more info can be found on the history of the island, one web site i found THIS ONE had lots of good simple to read info worth a look.

So one of the main reasons that this little bit of land is so heavily populated but wildlife is its location. It located in around where the Antarctic polar front which is a meteorological thinnigy and  Antarctic Convergence which is a oceanographic whatca call it. Basically its where the warm water meets the cold water and its very rich in food for many of the animals here and therefore use it as a good place for breeding. THIS one is quite an interesting web page its got lots more info about Macca along with some more history stuff starting on page 4.

Maswson himself used Macquarie Island as a staging place and wireless relay station in his infamous 1911 - 1914 expedition. I found a good biography of Sir Douglas Mawson CLICK HERE. ALSO i found a diary of one of the sailers of the Aurora which was the ship Mawson used to sail into Commonwealth Bay CLICK HERE for that one. They only manned the station for a short time but 1948 became the first permanently manned station for the then ANARE or Australian National Antarctic Research Expedition or ANARE no 1. This Year I will be participating in the ANARE 67 to give you an idea which is 67 years Macca has been manned. 

So a short three day trip and the cloud covered Macca come into view. Looking to the focsal on the AA from the bridge. A majority no actually all of the cargo you see isn't bound for Macca but Casey instead. The 30t we had coming with us was actually located mainly at the rear of the ship in the Helicopter hanger.

Pic: David Hawley

It was about 7am and I had actually just got up and was making a cup of tea in the mess. Right in front of where you make the tea is a port hole and as i looked out i could just make out land through the mist. This pic was taken a little later and you can see Buckles Bay and on the right of the pic you'll see the little hill........this is where the station is located.

Pic: David Hawley

The mist............

Pic: David Hawley

So after arriving there and a couple briefings form lovely Leanne and Mark the VL & DVL (Voyage Leader and Deputy Voyage Leader) had their little briefing. The IRB's at Macca then ferried the outgoing personal along with the Station Leader and Deputy Station Leader for another briefing before we could leave the ship. 

So after being given the go we organised ourself into fours and off to the bunker door. This door is nowhere near water level, normally where a ships Pilot would get on. So down a rope ladder and into a IRB as the swells go through against the ship was interesting but bot as bad as they had done. From the IRB we were then transferred onto one of the two LARC 5s VIDEO INFO, THE ONE I DRIVE, we were using to resupply the station. Didn't get many pics of the LARC's but here is a couple Fridgy AKA David Hawley took on the way in.

 Pic: David Hawley

Fridgy giving us the thumbs up..........

 Pic: David Hawley

The AA from North Head.......

 Pic: David Hawley

So after landing we made our way to the mess where I jumped strait into the JCB telehandler and unloaded the cargo on the incoming LARC's. Digressing like I do there isn't much plant here for me to drive 2 tractors (same as you would find on a small farm back home), the Telehandler, a Polaris, 3 IRB's and a fork lift.

Anyway not going to go on too much as i have covered resupply in
2011 season Blog 3
&
2010 season Blog 12
So all i have to add that it was nothing like them. 30t moved ashore and transported by LARC.

Anyway dinner time came and it was time for me to find my room and both myself and Fridgy are to be living in S.A.D or Southern Aurora Donga. Kinda looks a little SAD too but is a traditional old school style that has been slowly replaced in all the other stations. This one was built in 1958, so almost as long as we have been stationed here full time. I did see this style of  accommodation at Mawson and remember saying to Rowdy when we looked at the 2 X 2 rooms I could quite happily live in one of them, WELL NOW I AM.

  Pic: David Hawley

This is Fridgys room, easy to spot as his is empty and clean.........

  Pic: David Hawley

The welcome from the Chef on our beds apon arrival.

  Pic: David Hawley

Fridgy with his little welcome......

  Pic: David Hawley

Me with mine, not Chocolate on the pillow but still edible I guess......

  Pic: David Hawley

Had to go and get some of my bags form where the cargo had been coming into and here are a couple of the MIPEP dogs going over all the incoming baggage and cargo. The new cargo facility, dogs and  baiting are all in a effort to irradiate all the pest invertebrates and thus far seem to be working. Hopefully in the next couple years the flora and fawn start to find a new balance and bounce back.


 Pic: David Hawley

So resupply over and a day off, weather was nice and we still have a box to tick, this is field training. This box is basically training that will enable us to survive in the event of survival situation. It also opens up the areas that we are allowed to walk in. Currently with no survival field training we are only allowed in station limits. BUT here thats far enough at the moment to see lots.........

SO got that done now its time for the GOOD STUFF..............

A picture of the Chippy, Electrial and one of the many plumbers workshops on left of pic. Behind that the green building is the green store which is where the fridges and freezers are along with all food. In front and centre pic is the mess and bar. 

 Pic: David Hawley

Just outside the gate. Haven't got a pic of this yet but will include it in future blogs. I have never been to a place that the fence keeps the animals out and the humans in. This is one of them, it can be a little bit of a slow trip at times driving a from one end of station to the other fighting your way to get the use of the road form the wallowing Elephant Seals.

 Pic: David Hawley



 Pic: David Hawley

Really an amazing place, kinda knew what i was in for but then i got here and it was so much better. Really leaves you in AWE..........

 Pic: David Hawley

Me and the station in the background. The big ANARESAT dome in the background.........

 Pic: David Hawley

Chillaxing on the beach............

 Pic: David Hawley

Interesting pose huh.........

 Pic: David Hawley

Thats because I was taking this picture............

 Pic: Michael Goldstein

From North Head looking towards Nuggets.................

 Pic: David Hawley

Rock Hopper Penguin.............

 Pic: David Hawley

Molting young Elephant Seal

 Pic: David Hawley

Some of the sea weads...........

 Pic: David Hawley

Bull Kelp that is grows around the island making some beach landings by boat very difficult.....Watching the Kelp beds can be very hypnotising however its said to be one of strongest plants and the capacity of growing 60cm a day..........

Pic: David Hawley

A Skua normal to see on the Antarctic continent but behind is a Southern Giant Petrel. MASSIVE clumsy bird........they were hanging around a seal that had sometime ago deceased and 2 weeks had almost gone......

  Pic: Michael Goldstein

Some of the flora that I'm totally unfamiliar with at the moment but I'm sure to cover it in coming blogs........

   Pic: Michael Goldstein

   Pic: Michael Goldstein

The majestic King Penguins relaxing on the beach out front of station.......these guys are really cool and very photogenic i think...

   Pic: Michael Goldstein

  Pic: Michael Goldstein

  Pic: Michael Goldstein

   Pic: Michael Goldstein

A Gentoo Penguin taking a break from feeding the little ones.........

   Pic: Michael Goldstein

Juvenile Gentoos waiting on the beach for the return of mum and dad........

   Pic: Michael Goldstein

Elephant Seal in the Tussock Grass that had been so badly effected by the rabbits.........

   Pic: Michael Goldstein

Same but in the background you can see times of past. The Digesters used in the manufacture of Penguin and Fur Seal oils.

   Pic: Michael Goldstein

If i lay low and still you can't see me............ohhhh I see you alright!!!

   Pic: Michael Goldstein

Cant see me I'm hiding....................

Pic: Michael Goldstein

Fridgy soaking up the environment...............

   Pic: Michael Goldstein

Here it is HOME for the next bit........Its been quite a long road to get here but in the short amount of time I've been here its already blown my mind!!!!

Pic: Michael Goldstein

Hope you all have enjoyed this one as much as it has been to share it with you all. If you ever think about coming here or Antarctica on one of the tourist boats and balk at the expense, if as a tourist you only get to experience 1/100 of what i do and it docent blow your mind then I pity you. 

Christmass Eve as I finish this EPIC blog entry and this time of year is hard not being near loved ones  makes me think of home. Then i think of how BLOODY hot it is and I'm sorry guys as much as i love you all wouldn't swap that for this this year!!!!!!

Seasons Greetings and please stay safe on those roads........

Michael