On 6 August, 2018 in Hobart, Tasmania, a commemorative
Dinner to honour the Macquarie Island expeditioners, 1948-1965, was held on
the occasion of the 70th Anniversary of
the establishment of the Australian National Antarctic Research Expedition
(ANARE) Station on Macquarie Island, March 1948.
And what a celebration it was!
238 Guests attended including 25 of the very early veterans (1952 - 1965) as
well as family representatives for some of the earlier pioneers. Many later year
current expeditioners were
also in attendance along with other interested persons with some association
to Macquarie Island. Dr Des Lugg AM, former Head Polar Medicine, Australian Antarctic
Division (AAD) was MC, Dr Joe
Johnson CSC AAM, President ANARE Club, officiated and Dr David Parer introduced
The ANARE Club was delighted to welcome the Lieutenant Governor of Tasmania,
Hon Justice Alan Blow AO and Mrs Blow & ADC Inspector Grant Twinning, the Hon.
Sir Guy Green AC, Hon. Jacquie Petrusma MP (representing the Premier of Tasmania),
Hon. Rebecca White (Leader of the Opposition) & Rodney Dann,
and Commissioner Adriana Taylor (from Huon Valley Council - the local government
responsible for Macquarie Island) & Beris Taylor. Other special guests included
Jason Jacobi (General Manager, Tasmania Parks & Wildlife Service), John Bally
(representing Director, Bureau of Meteorology), Finn Wollesen (M.D., Knud. E.
Hansen A/S, Denmark) & Ken Goh (their Australian Representative)
who are involved in the construction of Australia's new icebreaker, RSV
Tim Bowden AM spoke about the Macquarie Island Invaders - from 1810 to the 1970's.
Tim is a broadcaster, radio and television presenter and documentary film-maker, historian
and author. He wrote the official history of ANARE's first 50 years, The Silence Calling
- Australians in the Antarctic 1947-97,and presented and produced the ABC-TV series
Breaking the Ice.
Keith Springer described the process of Eradicating the Feral Animals from
Macquarie Island - 1990's to the present.
Keith was the Macquarie Island Pest Eradication Project Manager (MIPEP) and over-saw
the complete eradication of all feral animals on Macquarie. Keith is a New Zealander who
has worked with the New Zealand Forest Service and on the NZ Antarctic Program at Scott
Base. He wintered on Macquarie in 2005 and then became project manager for the eradication
of rabbits and rodents and spent 9 years overseeing the program. Since then he has been
working on similar programs on South Georgia, Marion, Antipodes and Gough Islands.
Rob Bryson (representing Dr Nick Gales, Director of the Australian Antarctic Division)
outlined plans for Building the New Station on Macquarie - the next phase of Renewal and Scientific Excellence.
With a naval and business development background, Rob has worked in a number of areas in the AAD and
is at present Modernisation Program Manager in charge of the new $50m re-development of the
Station on Macquarie Island.
PHOTOGRAPHIC EXHIBITION, ARCHIVAL VIDEO & BROCHURE
The evening began early with guests arriving about 4.30 pm to view the photographic exhibition of
images old and new, displayed on the walls of the Hobart Function & Conference Centre rooms.
These were prepared by David Parer from the AAD archives and other images kindly contributed
by past & present expeditioners. During the evening a 1 hour video played continuously (mute)
on three large screens. This was compiled by Alan Ryan from 11 hours of AAD footage with captions.
A 32-page colour brochure for the tables, prepared by Liz Parer-Cook (with help from David Dodd
& Margaret Whitelaw), outlined the history of Macquarie Island and listed the wintering parties
from 1948 - 1965 with a brief CV of each veteran and many images of life on Macca and its
PHILLIP LAW MEDAL
During the evening Dr Pat Selkirk AAM was presented with the 2018 Phillip Law Medal by His
Excellency, Hon. Justice Alan Blow.
Then veterans and family representatives briefly recounted anecdotes and memories of their time
"living in a wet, windy, inhospitable zoo". They each received a show-bag which contained a book,
a print and a commemorative stamp cover. There was much laughter and camaraderie epitomised by the
presence of so many older veterans but also by the attendance of 14 expeditioners from the
70thANARE in 2017, many of them women.
HAMISH, THE RABBIT HUNTER
Hamish, the Springer Spaniel and most popular past expeditioner & rabbit -hunter, was also in
attendance, and during the night covertly retrieved a small stuffed penguin, a hat and a beer stubby
holder- part of one of the Auction items - taking it tail wagging to his master, Keith Springer
for approval. Hilarious!
LIFE MEMBER AWARDS
Three Life Members were inducted into the ANARE CLUB - Denise Allen, David Dodd & David Ellyard.
RAFFLE & AUCTION
There was a raffle and an auction, run by Trevor Luff, with some great donated prizes, including
a large oil painting of a Black-browed Albatross painted especially for the event by Neil Roberts,
a 12 hour scenic flight over Antarctica for two persons with "Antarctica Flights", prints of the Nella
Dan, from the Queensland Branch of the ANARE Club and special commemorative stamps (prepared by
David Dodd). A number of sketches (done by George Casasayas who wintered in 1959) and photos taken
by Barend Becker, Lionel Whitehorn & Melanie Wells were also raffled. Thanks so much to all these
people & to Antarctica Flights for their generosity.
MERCHANDISE & CONTRIBUTORS
Merchandise was created to help self-fund the event, including A4 archival-mounted prints with
certificates of authenticity, cloth badges, & books "Antarctic Sundays" & "Douglas Mawson -The
Survivor." A dozen or more money donations, lots of merchandise sales and the proceeds from the
raffle & auction ensured both the Heard Island event (held last December) and this event ended
up slightly in the black!!! We are relieved & thrilled about this. Thanks to Ingrid Pottage,
Andrea Turbutt & Jenny Scott who manned the table so well. Thanks also to Barend Becker who
helped hang prints and Beverly Adams who did whatever was needed to help stage the event
throughout the day. Also to Bob Tomkins, John Gillies, Denise Allen, Rowan Butler, Jan Adolph
& George Cresswell for their help with preparations and their support.
Special thanks to all those who entrusted their wonderful images to us including, in addition to
those mentioned already, Evan Jones, Tom Luttrell, Megan McKeown, Lauren Wise, Bob Tomkins, Kate
Johnstone, Mike Bryden, Kerry Sternberner, Penny Pascoe, Rod & Jeannie Ledingham, John Russell,
David Windsor, Inger Van Dyke, Knowles Kerry, Hugh Oldham, Marjorie & Peter Jacklyn, Beryl
Phillips, Rob Gurr, Mike Merrony, Graham Holt, Robert Clancy, Warwick Teasedale, Pat Selkirk,
Jennifer Parsons, Horst Munstermann & Alan Thomas.
Thanks to the Australian Antarctic Division, particularly the support of Director Dr Nick Gales,
Tess Egan & Jonothan Davis, who searched the AAD's archives for stills & movie; to Noel Carmichael
& Liz Wren from Tasmania Parks & Wildlife Service who provided us with images & video of the MIPEP
operation and access to the amazing satellite image of Macca; to MC Des Lugg whose knowledge of
all things Antarctic is invaluable; to the speakers Tim Bowden, Keith Springer & Rob Bryson who
introduced the island and set the scene for the celebration; and to the veterans and their
families who have journeyed from the far corners of Australia - for their participation
& contributions, without whom such a celebration would not be possible.
Thanks to Trevor Luff for organising the auction & raffle, Geoff Payne for helping with this website
and link, John Gillies for doing the nametags. In particular, our thanks for the whole-hearted
support of Joe Johnson, President of the ANARE Club, and the National Council throughout the
planning stage of this event. Also to David Ellyard, Chris Gamgee & Brian Harvey for support.
SEALERS - THE AGE OF EXPLOITATION
BACKGROUND HISTORY OF MACQUARIE ISLAND
Located in the Southern Ocean 1540 Km south of Tasmania in the teeth of the "furious fifties", desolate
and windswept Macquarie Island was a pristine haven for wildlife before its discovery by Hasselburgh
in 1810. The island's fur seals were immediately exploited en masse for their skins and 120,000 were
clubbed to death in the first 18 months. As viability diminished, elephant seals were soon targeted
- their blubber was thrown into trypots to extract the oil for commercial use. Penguins were next
and soon, not only was the wildlife decimated, but by the 20thCentury cats, mice, rats, rabbits
and wekas - introduced by the sealers ? abounded and were wrecking the vegetation.
HEROIC AGE ? AUSTRALASIAN ANTARCTIC EXPEDITION (AAE)
While en route to the Antarctic in 1911, Douglas Mawson established the first scientific station on
Macquarie Island and a radio link to support his scientific endeavours on the frozen continent. Research
on the plants and animals provided a baseline for later work. During 1914 & 1915 meteorological
observations were continued by the Commonwealth Meteorological Bureau.
MACQUARIE ISLAND - PART OF TASMANIA SINCE 1825
Sealing continued until 1919 when, after much adverse publicity regarding cruelty to animals, and Sir
Douglas Mawson's efforts to have it declared a sanctuary, the Tasmanian Government stopped issuing
further sealing licences. In 1933 the Island was proclaimed a Wildlife Sanctuary and in 1997 it was
placed on the World Heritage List for its unique geological values and natural diversity. Today, it
is part of Tasmania's Huon Municipality and administered by the Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service.
AGE OF SCIENCE - ANARE RESEARCH STATION, 1948 - PRESENT
In 1948, the Australian Government established a research station on Macquarie Island and it became an
important meteorological base supporting activities and research on continental Antarctica. Being close
to the South Magnetic Pole, Macquarie is an ideal location to carry out cosmic ray and auroral studies.
The pioneering Macquarie Island expeditioners were involved in researching the physical sciences as well
as the geology, the vegetation and the biology of the animals. This included long-term population studies,
the physiology of the birds and marine mammals, as well as human physiology.
These veterans established field huts and tracks down the island, often with little resources and lots of
improvisation, in what is a wet, windy and hostile environment - 315 days of precipitation per year,
average wind speed of 28 km/hr and storms with winds to 200km/hr.
FERAL ANIMALS DAMAGE THE VEGETATION & WILDLIFE
During the 1950's, botanists recorded rabbit damage to the vegetation, and by 1978 the rabbit population
was estimated at 150,000. Rodents attacked burrowing-petrel chicks, and cats preyed upon penguin chicks
and winter-breeding Grey Petrels. During the 1950's, 60's and 70's increasing efforts were made to remove
the feral animals by shooting, and in 1978 by the introduction of the myxomatosis to the rabbit population.
For a time, rabbit numbers declined until eventually they developed an immunity to the myxo virus. With
the elimination of every cat on Macquarie by 2002 (a major predator of young rabbits), the bunny
population rapidly increased. And rats and mice thrived. To save the Island's vegetation something
drastic had to be done. Enter MIPEP.
MACQUARIE ISLAND PEST ERADICATION PROJECT (MIPEP)
The plan was to eradicate every rabbit and rodenton Macquarie Island, a 34 km by 5.5 km rugged outpost in
an inhospitable climate - a seemingly impossible task. The Tasmanian and Federal Governments funded a
$25.6m project over an 8-year period (following a donation of $100,000 by WWF Australia and
Firstly, the calicivirus was introduced to reduce rabbit numbers. Then, aerial baiting using helicopters
was carried out between 2010 - 2014, followed by a hunting program using dogs - springer spaniels,
Labradors and terriers to clean up any remaining individuals. To achieve this, teams of hunters over a
three-year period covered hundreds of kms each week, trudging over the plateau, steep coastal slopes,
beaches and featherbed. Since the last bunnies and rodents were removed in 2012, the island is rapidly
recovering. The vegetation is growing strongly and the burrowing petrels are returning to breed.
It is truly an amazing result.
THE FUTURE CONTAINS ECHOES OF THE PAST
There have been dramatic changes to the island over the years but many things remain the same, including
the harsh weather and spectacular nature of the World Heritage island. Meteorological, geophysical,
biological and other scientific observations begun so long ago, continue today, 70 years on. But what is
un-changing is the effect such a place has on the individual that lives there for a time. A year on
Macquarie can change a person forever, as many of the expeditioners that gathered together for this
70th Anniversary celebration attested.
Despite the threat of the imminent closure of the Station a year or so back, plans are now being prepared
for the research station to be rebuilt. It is the beginning of a new era for Macca as we know it.
Photo Credits: D.Parer, I.Toohill, R.Butler, M.Wells
David Parer, Liz Parer-Cook & David Dodd
ANARE Club, Special Events, Macquarie Is. 70th Anniversary Dinner
20 August, 2018