With field familiarisation trips all done, expeditioners are getting out and exploring this special island home of ours.
Having completed our field training in Hobart earlier in the year, the objective of field familiarisation trips is to put all of our training into context, as well as learn how to minimise wildlife disturbance and environmental impacts. Led by Andrea, the groups followed a standard field training route that represents most of the terrain and vegetation types to be encountered on Macca:
Day 1: A steep climb up the Doctors Track and Island Lake Track stroll along the plateau to Bauer Bay Hut.
Day 2: An introduction to the infamous Macca ‘Labyrinth’, coastal featherbed and escarpment jump-up, off–track navigation practice through the Flat Creek ‘meadows’, followed by a night at Brothers Point Hut.
Day 3: A visit to the penguins at Sandy Bay, followed by a walk home to station via the east coast or the Overland Track (depending on the coastal conditions).
Everyone relished the opportunity to see the spectacular scenery, learn about how to live in the huts, and to sample the exquisite field delicacy that is the renowned Frey Bentos steak and kidney pie (mostly at Andrea’s behest). Other memorable highlights included encounters with bogs, slopes coated in buzzies, and trips to the beach scrutinised by elephant seals.
The weather became increasingly challenging as the trips progressed. On the third trip, Jan and Geoff experienced the most adverse weather by far, with thick incessant mist and classic ‘furious fifties’ Macca winds — although the very low visibility did enable the most extensive navigation practice. Andrea described the usually prominent features that were masked by mist for Jan and Geoff, who are looking forward to seeing it all properly soon!
Nick and Matt scored the first independent recreational trip, though they had a good dose of the Macca furious fifties on their very windy Bauer Bay trip. Next up was Wayne, Nick and Andrea’s sojourn to Green Gorge, roughly halfway down the island. Nick kept us well fed (as all recreating chefs seem compelled to do) while we watched the local king penguins come and go from their fishing trips. Abnormally large foamy waves smashed into the coast and a decent snowfall made everything even more spectacular.
Andrea Turbett, Ranger In Charge, Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service