This season’s Station Leader for Macquarie Island Research Station is Pete Pedersen.
He returns to the Australian Antarctic Program after previously serving as Station Leader at Davis in 2007 and Casey in 2016.
For the next year, Mr Pedersen and 21 other expeditioners will call the narrow 34 kilometre-long island home.
And for good reason.
“The big drawcard at Macquarie Island is the place itself, the landscape and the chance to live so close to wildlife,” Mr Pedersen said.
From Cairns, Mr Pedersen has spent 25 years with the Australian Quarantine Service.
He has visited Macquarie Island once before as a resupply voyage leader.
At the time the world heritage area was under siege from invasive species.
“When I last saw it, the cats had been eradicated but rabbits, rats and mice were still going wild and you could really see the island was suffering.”
“I’m looking forward to seeing how the island has recovered since the eradication program.”
This season has also seen the first successful resupply of Macquarie Island by Australia’s new icebreaker RSV Nuyina.
Delivering tonnes of cargo from ship to shore is always an accomplishment but other challenges await the team.
“This is the first year where we’ll get stuck into the Macquarie Island Modernisation Program,” he said.
“Unlike our Antarctic stations, infrastructure on Macquarie Island is really quite sparse.”
“It’s a harsh environment so a lot of these buildings are in need of improvement.”
Among the station community is a chef, doctor, tradespeople and Tasmania Parks and Wildlife rangers.
Wildlife surveys are a critical part of science undertaken on an island packed with penguins and seals.
“A lot of the wildlife there is in danger or at risk, especially things like nesting sea birds,” he said.
Among the comforts he’ll miss from home will be the mango season.
Most importantly does he make a good slushy? – A station duty that involves helping out in the kitchen.
“I don’t think I’m a very good slushy because I ask too many questions of the chef, like why my soufflés don’t rise?”
A perk of helping out does mean control of the kitchen music.
“I think I’ll play Paul Kelly primarily.”
“There’s a particular favourite amongst station leaders I think from an Australian group, called The Chats.”
“One of their great songs goes ‘Leave me alone, I’m on Smoko’. So that’ll get a run this year I think.”