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70th Macquarie Island Anniversary
Celebration Update

Des Lugg

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 and 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 veterans.

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 Nuyina.

Relive the complete event or if you didn't attend, find out exactly what went on at the Celebration. The event is 2.5 hours long but is also posted in chapters so you can dip in and out at leisure. It is in the same album as the 1 hour Video Compilation (shown at the event).
In addition the award-winning ABC/ Antarctic Division Documentary Series "Edge of the Cold" is also available for viewing here. Produced by David Parer and filmed on Macca in 1975, the series explores the history and wildlife of Macquarie Island through the seasons.

To watch all the videos go to    https://vimeo.com/anareclub/albums

We hope you enjoy reliving or catching up on the event!

If you're unsure how to access the VIMEO site, please contact us at:   macca70@anareclub.org.au

There is also a collection of still photos taken on the night by various people

Prints, books, franked stamped envelopes, badge and sticker from the Anniversary Celebrations associated with Heard Island and Macquarie Island are now listed on theAnniversary Merchandise page


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.

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 wildlife featured.

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 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!

Three Life Members were inducted into the ANARE CLUB - Denise Allen, David Dodd & David Ellyard.

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 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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 Peregrine Adventures).

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.

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