Forget the intrepid contestants and hard-working tradies on the reality TV series The Block, out on remote Macquarie Island – the Australian territory in the Southern Ocean about halfway between New Zealand and Antarctica – home renovations will soon be taking place that lend a whole new meaning to ‘tough’.
Indeed, it will possibly 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 tradespeople has ever faced.
Upgrades to 73-year-old island facilities
Setting off from Tasmania, the band of carpenters, builders and electricians are soon to journey to the sub-Antarctic outpost to start renovations on the 73-year-old research station which houses 20 scientists and researchers.
The World Heritage-listed island is home to around 3.5 -million seabirds, 80,000 elephant seals and the hardy expeditioners who study them – and the weather – in the interests of science, the environment and climate research.
According to Unesco, it is also a site of major geo-conservation significance, being the only place on earth where rocks from the earth’s mantle (6 km below the ocean floor) are being actively exposed above sea-level.
There’s no hardware store down the road
But there’s no hardware store around the corner. So if the home renovators lose their hammer or run out of nails, the nearest friendly Bunnings shop assistant is about 1,500km away.
This The Block-on-Steroids project has even caught the attention of Government ministers, with Federal environment minister Sussan Ley issuing a statement saying the group will spend a year on the island, with renovations expected to be completed in seven years. Which is just a little longer than things take on The Block.
“The team of highly skilled tradespeople are prepared for all eventualities; they will be reusing and recycling as much of the infrastructure [as] they can,” she said.
A project to upgrade the island’s research station facilities began in 2016, when the Federal Government committed $50-million to secure the future of the complex.
Part of Aussie exploration since 19th century
The renovations include refurbishing three of the six field huts, renovating core buildings in the station to ensure ongoing year-round operation of station and field-based research activities, removing asbestos from all buildings, and decommissioning older redundant buildings.
“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,” Ley added.
Macquarie Island has been an integral part of Australia’s exploration and monitoring of the region since the early 19th century.
If you’d like to visit, take a jumper. The warmest you can hope for is under just under 9°C and the coldest just a little better than -10°C.