21 April 2007

Last post...

Lunch time, and we are cruising up the Derwent. The swell of the Southern Ocean is far behind. Media await at the wharf and our Macquarie Island campaign continues.

This is my last post. I hope you enjoyed my impressions from Macquarie Island. It is an amazing place that urgently needs saving. The political stalemate continues, so your help is needed to show that Australians are sick of what is happening and want one or both governments to show decisive leadership to break the deadlock. Check out our action on the WWF website.

It asks you to write to Premier Paul Lennon, Premier of Tasmania. It would also useful to write to The Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600, to say that, with only one more month before the eradication plan is delayed yet another year, it is time for the Australian Government to show decisive leadership to resolve this problem.

Hope you enjoyed following my travels and thanks for your support.

19 April 2007

Coming Home

The re‑supply finished yesterday, with most of the fuel finally being able to be pumped onto shore. The summer expeditioners returning home are now on board, swelling the numbers to 79.

The 'Aurora Australis' departed Macquarie Island waters at 6pm last night and we are now on our way to Hobart. Swell is three metres, so time to take a sea sickness tablet. Tried to hold out but my stomach wasn't having a bar of that.

Had our emergency muster this morning and the eradication group is about to meet to debrief on our time on the island.

Getting back into the routine of the ship voyage.

17 April 2007

Weather station takes off!

The weather fined up enough today (wind OK), so i was able to be choppered to the island. Hanging around the base waiting to see if a chopper becomes available to take three of us to install the Automatic Weather Station, funded by WWF and Peregrine Adventures.

Just saw the chopper take off with the container containing the AWS to fly up to the plateau, where it will be dropped off.

Staying on-shore tonight, so a chance to catch up with those staying for the winter.

16 April 2007

Ground Hog Day

Woke up and the weather looked promising. Quick breakfast and then we got the greenlight to put our flight suits on for a 8am fly off. Fingers crossed that the winds will be gentle enough to allow a helicopter to land.

Kitted up and waiting up on the heli-deck and can hear the chopper come in. Nearly lands and has to pull back. Another try .... and no luck. Once more.... and simply too windy to land on the ship. Darn. Another day on ship rather than the island. Particularly as it will also be too windy to get a chopper up to the plateau to install the Automatic Weather Station, and I was hoping to be part of the team.

Got more cargo off the ship, so Voyage Leader Don must be feeling that at least some resupply could happen today - they used an old army amphibious landing craft called a LARC to bring in cargo. But no fuel - so we wait for a better day.

So another ground hog day - check emails, respond to emails, write a press release, have a cup of coffee and chat, watch a movie, and wait for a perfect day - or at least one that enables choppers to fly and land on the ship.

14 April 2007

Fog rolls in

The fog has rolled in, and chopper flights off the ship have been pushed back from 8am to 10am. Today, weather permitting, the Automatic Weather Station was to have been moved from the station to its site. Obviously, this also depended on the availability of a chopper since the re-supply gets top priority.

Yesterday, got to see the Weather Station, which has been running over the past couple of days to make sure everything is in working order.

13 April 2007

King Penguins, Gadgets Gully and North Head

The weather was fine enough for the coppers, but the seas still too rough for the Aurora Australis to pump its fuel on shore to top up station supplies.

We flew in to the station at 8.00am, squeezed out of the flight suits, and then we were ready for the next inspection tour.

The route was to take us up the coast line (walking toward Sandy Bay), until we took a right up Gadgets Gully until we reached the plateau, then circle back down the spur to the station.

Walking out of the station was punctuated by having to avoid a seal here and a seal there. Then where the rusted out remains of a penguin blubber digester lay, a king penguin colony emerged. Unlike previous days where we were walking at close to double time to rush back to the station to catch our helicopter flight back to the ship, this time we had time to enjoy and awe at the absolute beauty of king penguins. We sat down so as to not intimidate the penguins, and let their curious nature do the rest. Soon we were the focus of about 10-15 penguins checking us out, and have a peck at our packs and parkas.

What a magical experience!!

Couldn't help myself, and took way to many photos (partly to show my four and six year old sons - Tristan and Kal - that I was not making this up), and after about 10 or so minutes we backed away and skirted around the sea edge of the colony to find the track up Gadget's Gully.

Gadget's Gully is a short cut up to the plateau. You basically follow the stream up to the dam at the top that supplies the station's water. It is pretty much straight up, with three ladders to get up the really steep sections. My boots aren't gortex, so got very wet feet again.

Once at the top, had some chocolate, and then walked across the plateau to the edge of the escarpment, where we found a swathe of dead tussock pedestals, and a section of the hillside that had slipped, and another section that had already slumped and was ready to go. The top soil that had gone was about half a metre deep - and again the reality of the rabbit plague hit us in the face. After taking a range of photos, we then looped back and started walking down the spur. Again, walking through stands of dead tussock pedestals criss-crossed by rabbit holes and gnawings, reinforced the urgency of the problem. Once at the stairs, we descended quickly and were back at the station right on time for lunch.

After lunch, it was time to check North Head out. This is where Tas. Parks (with mostly Commonwealth NHT $$) will erect a fence to exclude rabbits from the Head. North Head is a major breeding site for burrowing petrels amongst others. The idea is once the fence is up, rabbits will then be excluded, which should give this small section of the island a chance to recover.

Passed the grave of an expeditioner that died and was buried here, I think in the 1950s.

North Head is also where Mawson set up his radio relay station (as part of this early 20th century Antarctic expedition), and the remnants are still there. They had to haul up generators and gear - what a job given the steepness of the slopes.

At the edge of the plateau we could look down to slopes of healthy tussock (ah - the rabbits haven't got it all yet !!), and the occasional seal.

Back down the escarpment, and then a quick detour to check out Gentoo and Rock-hopper penguins, before donning our flight suits for the chopper flight back to the ship.

Dinner and then bed.

12 April 2007

Rained in

The weather has come in, so I am stuck on the ship. The only helicopter flight was to bring the ship doctor back from an on-shore visit, when the weather cleared briefly. So a chance to download my camera pics, do a load of washing, and other mundane things waiting until tomorrow and the chance to go back on island.

A bit of magic was a pod of pilot whales came quite close to the ship. Macquarie Island is such a wildlife wonderland!