Two scientists impressions of Macquarie Island
Dr Woody Horning
The island is beautiful, it is rugged, it is challenging. The weather is what comes to mind first. Nowhere have I seen such changeable weather. Snowing like mad and within 15 minutes there will be blue sky and sunshine! Walking on the tops toward Caroline Cove and a sudden gust of wind rips my map out of my hands with me holding just two little bits and the rest of it on its journey to Chile. Going out to rocks about 700 m off the east coast on the north end of the island, diving for 40 minutes or so and coming up with heavy bags of samples and the fog descended from nowhere. Which direction is the mainland? Sounds are really confusing in fog. We got to shore and landed only 300 m south of the tip of the island - close encounters of a different kind. Where else can it rain, snow, have fog and blow a gale all at the same time? The vegetation is unique. Memories of floating bogs, the steep hillside vegetation and near bare areas on the plateau come to mind.
The animals, of course, are important. Who could ever forget the huge Royal Penguin rookery at Hurd Point or the braying of King Penguins at Lusitania Bay. The elephant seals, though quite smelly, are a wonder to see, especially the big bull males. I found the skuas at Macquarie Island to be really tame in comparison to those on Ross Island, Antarctica.
Dr Isobel Bennett
O those wonderful penguins! You walk ashore and see a beach completely covered with not hundred but thousands of these delightful little creatures. And the wonderful thing is that they are not afraid of you. You can walk right up to them, in fact, they will walk up and inspect your feet and if they don't like the smell of them they walk away. .. We were very fortunate on two occasions to have beautiful sunshine and the men there said don't you dare go back and show slides because they'll think this is typical Macquarie island weather, which is very much not the case. Practically every day it rains and every day it is completely shrouded in mist, but it's a magic place, absolutely magic.