It will be Australia’s coldest, wettest and most isolated home renovation and could prove to be one of the greatest building challenges a group of intrepid builders has ever faced.
Setting off from Tasmania, the band of carpenters, builders and electricians will journey to a remote Australian out-post on the sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island to start renovations on the 73-year-old research station which houses 20 scientists and researchers.
Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley said the group will spend a year on the island with renovations expected to be completed in seven years.
“The team of highly skilled tradespeople are prepared for all eventualities; they will be reusing and recycling as much of the infrastructure they can,” Minister Ley said.
“The World Heritage-listed Island is home to around 3.5 million seabirds, 80,000 elephant seals and about 20 expeditioners but no hardware store – so if they run out of nails, the nearest Bunnings is about 1500kms away.”
The project to upgrade the sub-Antarctic island’s station began in 2016, when the Federal Government committed $50 million to secure the future of the facility and scientific research on the island.
The renovation will include:
• Consolidating the station area and reducing the total number of buildings on the island from the existing 48 buildings
• Renovating core buildings in the station to ensure ongoing year-round operation of station and field-based research activities
• Decommissioning older redundant buildings
• Refurbishing three of the six field huts
• Assessing ways of protecting the station from ocean inundation
• Removing asbestos from all buildings.
The island is an important global site for scientific research including monitoring Southern Hemisphere weather and climate.
“Renovating the current buildings will ensure the Macquarie Island station is functional and able to support long term science for all key stakeholders including the Bureau of Meteorology, Geoscience Australia, the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency and the Tasmanian Government,” Minister Ley added.
Assistant Minister for Industry Development Jonno Duniam said: “Macquarie Island’s position between Australia and Antarctica means that it is a pivotal piece in our cache of scientific research, including the monitoring of weather in the southern hemisphere.”
Senator for Tasmania Eric Abetz said: “the UNESCO World Heritage site has been an integral part of Australia’s exploration and monitoring of the region since the early 19th century and I am pleased to be able to say that it will continue to operate with new, fit-for-purpose infrastructure.”