THE HOME OF THE BLIZZARD:
BEING THE STORY OF THE AUSTRALASIAN ANTARCTIC EXPEDITION, 1911-1914;
By Sir Douglas Mawson, D.Sc., B.E.
ILLUSTRATED IN COLOUR AND BLACK AND WHITE ALSO WITH MAPS
WITH 260 FULL-PAGE AND SMALLER ILLUSTRATIONS BY DR. E. A. WILSON AND OTHER MEMBERS OF THE EXPEDITION, PHOTOGRAVURE FRONTISPIECES, 12 PLATES IN FACSIMILE FROM DR. WILSON'S SKETCHES, PANORAMAS AND MAPS
TO THOSE WHO MADE IT POSSIBLE: THE SUBSCRIBERS AND CO-OPERATORS
TO THOSE WHO MADE IT A SUCCESS: MY COMRADES
AND TO THOSE WHO WAITED
The object of this book is to present a connected narrative of the Expedition from a popular and general point of view. The field of work is a very extensive one, and I feel that this account provides a record inadequate to our endeavours. However, I am comforted by the fact that the lasting reputation of the Expedition is founded upon the scientific volumes which will appear in due course.
Allusion to the history of Antarctic exploration has been reduced to a minimum, as the subject has been ably dealt with by previous writers. This, and several other aspects of our subject, have been relegated to special appendices in order to make the story more readable and self-contained.
A glossary of technicalities is introduced for readers not familiar with the terms. In the same place is given a list of animals referred to from time to time. There, the common name is placed against the scientific name, so rendering it unnecessary to repeat the latter in the text.
The reports handed to me by the leaders concerning the work of sledging journeys and of the respective bases were in the main clearly and popularly written. Still it was necessary to make extensive excisions so as to preserve a "balance" of justice in all the accounts, and to keep the narrative within limits. I wish to assure the various authors of my appreciation of their contributions.
Mr. Frank Hurley's artistic taste is apparent in the numerous photographs. We who knew the circumstances can warmly testify to his perseverance under conditions of exceptional difficulty. Mr. A. J. Hodgeman is responsible for the cartographical work, which occupied his time for many months. Other members of the Expedition have added treasures to our collection of illustrations; each of which is acknowledged in its place.
To Dr. A. L. McLean, who assisted me in writing and editing the book, I am very greatly indebted. To him the book owes any literary style it may possess. Dr. McLean's journalistic talent was discovered by me when he occupied the post of Editor of the 'Adelie Blizzard', a monthly volume which helped to relieve the monotony of our second year in Adelie Land. For months he was constantly at work, revising cutting down or amplifying the material of the story.
Finally, I wish to express my thanks to Dr. Hugh Robert Mill for hints and criticisms by which we have profited.
London, Autumn 1914.
Nor on thee yet Shall burst the future, as successive zones Of several wonder open on some spirit Flying secure and glad from heaven to heaven. BROWNING
The aim of geographical exploration has, in these days, interfused with the passion for truth. If now the ultimate bounds of knowledge have broadened to the infinite, the spirit of the man of science has quickened to a deeper fervour. Amid the finished ingenuities of the laboratory he has knitted a spiritual entente with the moral philosopher, viewing:
The narrow creeds of right and wrong, which fade Before the unmeasured thirst for good.
Science and exploration have never been at variance; rather, the desire for the pure elements of natural revelation lay at the source of that unquenchable power the "love of adventure."
Of whatever nationality the explorer was always emboldened by that impulse, and, if there ever be a future of decadence, it will live again in his ungovernable heritage.
Eric the Red; Francis Drake—the same ardour was kindled at the heart of either. It is a far cry from the latter, a born marauder, to the modern scientific explorer. Still Drake was a hero of many parts, and though a religious bigot in present acceptation, was one of the enlightened of his age. A man who moved an equal in a court of Elizabethan manners was not untouched by the glorious ideals of the Renaissance.
Yet it was the unswerving will of a Columbus, a Vasco da Gama or a Magellan which created the devotion to geographical discovery, per se, and made practicable the concept of a spherical earth. The world was opened in imaginative entirety, and it now remained for the geographer to fill in the details brought home by the navigator.
It was long before Thule the wondrous ice-land of the North yielded her first secrets, and longer ere the Terra Australis of Finne was laid bare to the prying eyes of Science.
Early Arctic navigation opened the bounds of the unknown in a haphazard and fortuitous fashion. Sealers and whalers in the hope of rich booty ventured far afield, and, ranging among the mysterious floes or riding out fierce gales off an ice-girt coast, brought back strange tales to a curious world. Crudely embellished, contradictory, yet alluring they were; but the demand for truth came surely to the rescue. Thus, it was often the whaler who forsook his trade to explore for mere exploration's sake. Baffin was one of those who opened the gates to the North.
Then, too, the commercial spirit of the generations who sought a North West Passage was responsible for the incursions of many adventurers into the new world of the ice.
Strangely enough, the South was first attacked in the true scientific spirit by Captain Cook and later by Bellingshausen. Sealing and whaling ventures followed in their train.
At last the era had come for the expedition, planned, administered, equipped and carried out with a definite objective. It is characteristic of the race of men that the first design should have centred on the Pole—the top of the earth, the focus of longitude, the magic goal, to reach which no physical sacrifice was too great. The heroism of Parry is a type of that adamant persistence which has made the history of the conquest of the Poles a volume in which disaster and death have played a large part. It followed on years of polar experience, it resulted from an exact knowledge of geographical and climatic conditions, a fearless anticipation, expert information on the details of transport—and the fortune of the brave—that Peary and Amundsen had their reward in the present generation.
Meanwhile, in the wake of the pioneers of new land there were passing the scientific workers born in the early nineteenth century. Sir James Clark Ross is an epitome of that expansive enthusiasm which was the keynote of the life of Charles Darwin. The classic "Voyage of the Beagle" (1831-36) was a triumph of patient rigorous investigation conducted in many lands outside the polar circles.
The methods of Darwin were developed in the 'Challenger' Expedition (1872) which worked even to the confines of the southern ice. And the torch of the pure flame of Science was handed on. It was the same consuming ardour which took Nansen across the plateau of Greenland, which made him resolutely propound the theory of the northern ice-drift, to maintain it in the face of opposition and ridicule and to plan an expedition down to the minutest detail in conformity therewith. The close of the century saw Science no longer the mere appendage but the actual basis of exploratory endeavour.
Disinterested research and unselfish specialization are the phrases born to meet the intellectual demands of the new century.
The modern polar expedition goes forth with finished appliances, with experts in every department—sailors, artisans, soldiers and students in medley; supremely, with men who seek risk and privation—the glory of the dauntless past. A.L.M.
One of the oft-repeated questions for which I usually had a ready answer, at the conclusion of Sir Ernest Shackleton's Expedition (1907-09) was, "Would you like to go to the Antarctic again?" In the first flush of the welcome home and for many months, during which the keen edge of pleasure under civilized conditions had not entirely worn away, I was inclined to reply with a somewhat emphatic negative. But, once more a man in the world of men, lulled in the easy repose of routine, and performing the ordinary duties of a workaday world, old emotions awakened. The grand sweet days returned in irresistible glamour, faraway "voices" called:
...from the wilderness, the vast and Godlike spaces, The stark and sullen solitudes that sentinel the Pole.
There always seemed to be something at the back of my mind, stored away for future contemplation, and it was an idea which largely matured during my first sojourn in the far South. At times, during the long hours of steady tramping across the trackless snow-fields, one's thoughts flow in a clear and limpid stream, the mind is unruffled and composed and the passion of a great venture springing suddenly before the imagination is sobered by the calmness of pure reason. Perchance this is true of certain moments, but they are rare and fleeting. It may have been in one such phase that I suddenly found myself eager for more than a glimpse of the great span of Antarctic coast lying nearest to Australia.
Professor T. W. E. David, Dr. F. A. Mackay and I, when seeking the South Magnetic Pole during the summer of 1908-09, had penetrated farthest into that region on land. The limiting outposts had been defined by other expeditions; at Cape Adare on the east and at Gaussberg on the west. Between them lay my "Land of Hope and Glory," of whose outline and glacial features the barest evidence had been furnished. There, bordering the Antarctic Circle, was a realm far from the well-sailed highways of many of the more recent Antarctic expeditions.
The idea of exploring this unknown coast took firm root in my mind while I was on a visit to Europe in February 1910. The prospects of an expedition operating to the west of Cape Adare were discussed with the late Captain R. F. Scott and I suggested that the activities of his expedition might be arranged to extend over the area in question. Finally he decided that his hands were already too full to make any definite proposition for a region so remote from his own objective.
Sir Ernest Shackleton was warmly enthusiastic when the scheme was laid before him, hoping for a time to identify himself with the undertaking. It was in some measure due to his initiative that I felt impelled eventually to undertake the organization and leadership of an expedition.
For many reasons, besides the fact that it was the country of my home and Alma Mater, I was desirous that the Expedition should be maintained by Australia. It seemed to me that here was an opportunity to prove that the young men of a young country could rise to those traditions which have made the history of British Polar exploration one of triumphant endeavour as well as of tragic sacrifice. And so I was privileged to rally the "sons of the younger son."
A provisional plan was drafted and put before the Australasian Association for the Advancement of Science at their meeting held at Sydney in January 1911, with a request for approval and financial assistance. Both were unanimously granted, a sum of L1000 was voted and committees were formed to co-operate in the arrangement of a scientific programme and to approach the Government with a view to obtaining substantial help.
The three leading members of the committees were Professor Orme Masson (President), Professor T. W. Edgeworth David (President Elect) and Professor G. C. Henderson (President of the Geographical Section). All were zealous and active in furthering the projects of the Expedition.
Meanwhile I had laid my scheme of work before certain prominent Australians and some large donations** had been promised. The sympathy and warm-hearted generosity of these gentlemen was an incentive for me to push through my plans at once to a successful issue.
** Refer to Finance Appendix.
I therefore left immediately for London with a view to making arrangements there for a vessel suitable for polar exploration, to secure sledging dogs from Greenland and furs from Norway, and to order the construction of certain instruments and equipment. It was also my intention to gain if possible the support of Australians residing in London. The Council of the University of Adelaide, in a broad-minded scientific spirit, granted me the necessary leave of absence from my post as lecturer, to carry through what had now resolved itself into an extensive and prolonged enterprise.
During my absence, a Committee of the Australasian Association for the Advancement of Science approached the Commonwealth Government with an appeal for funds. Unfortunately it was the year (1911) of the Coronation of his Majesty King George V, and the leading members of the Cabinet were in England, so the final answer to the deputation was postponed. I was thus in a position of some difficulty, for many requirements had to be ordered without delay if the Expedition were to get away from Australia before the end of the year.
At length, through the kindness of Lord Northcliffe, the columns of the Daily Mail were opened to us and Sir Ernest Shackleton made a strong appeal on our behalf. The Royal Geographical Society set the seal of its approval on the aims of the Expedition and many donations were soon afterwards received.
At this rather critical period I was fortunate in securing the services of Captain John King Davis, who was in future to act as Master of the vessel and Second in Command of the Expedition. He joined me in April 1911, and rendered valuable help in the preliminary arrangements. Under his direction the s.y. Aurora was purchased and refitted.
The few months spent in London were anxious and trying, but the memory of them is pleasantly relieved by the generosity and assistance which were meted out on every hand. Sir George Reid, High Commissioner for the Australian Commonwealth, I shall always remember as an ever-present friend. The preparations for the scientific programme received a strong impetus from well-known Antarctic explorers, notably Dr. W. S. Bruce, Dr. Jean Charcot, Captain Adrian de Gerlache, and the late Sir John Murray and Mr. J. Y. Buchanan of the Challenger Expedition. In the dispositions made for oceanographical work I was indebted for liberal support to H.S.H. the Prince of Monaco.
In July 1911 I was once more in Australia, a large proportion of my time being occupied with finance, the purchase and concentration of stores and equipment and the appointment of the staff. In this work I was aided by Professors Masson and David and by Miss Ethel Bage, who throughout this busy period acted in an honorary capacity as secretary in Melbourne.
Time was drawing on and the funds of the Expedition were wholly inadequate to the needs of the moment, until Mr. T. H. Smeaton, M.P., introduced a deputation to the Hon. John Verran, Premier of South Australia. The deputation, organized to approach the State Government for a grant of L5000, was led by the Right Hon. Sir Samuel Way, Bart., Chief Justice of South Australia and Chancellor of the Adelaide University, and supported by Mr. Lavington Bonython, Mayor of Adelaide, T. Ryan, M.P., the Presidents of several scientific societies and members of the University staff. This sum was eventually forthcoming and it paved the way to greater things.
In Sydney, Professor David approached the State Government on behalf of the Expedition for financial support, and, through the Acting Premier, the Hon. W. A. Holman, L7000 was generously promised. The State of Victoria through the Hon. W. Watt, Premier of Victoria, supplemented our funds to the extent of L6000.
Upheld by the prestige of a large meeting convened in the Melbourne Town Hall during the spring, the objects of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition were more widely published. On that memorable occasion the Governor-General, Lord Denman, acted as chairman, and among others who participated were the Hon. Andrew Fisher (Prime Minister of the Commonwealth), the Hon. Alfred Deakin (Leader of the Opposition), Professor Orme Masson (President A.A.A.S. and representative of Victoria), Senator Walker (representing New South Wales) and Professor G. C. Henderson (representing South Australia).
Soon after this meeting the Commonwealth Government voted L5000, following a grant of L2000 made by the British Government at the instance of Lord Denman, who from the outset had been a staunch friend of the Expedition.
At the end of October 1911 all immediate financial anxiety had passed, and I was able to devote myself with confidence to the final preparations.
Captain Davis brought the 'Aurora' from England to Australia, and on December 2, 1911, we left Hobart for the South. A base was established on Macquarie Island, after which the ship pushed through the ice and landed a party on an undiscovered portion of the Antarctic Continent. After a journey of fifteen hundred miles to the west of this base another party was landed and then the Aurora returned to Hobart to refit and to carry out oceanographical investigations, during the year 1912, in the waters south of Australia and New Zealand.
In December 1912 Captain Davis revisited the Antarctic to relieve the two parties who had wintered there. A calamity befell my own sledging party, Lieut. B. E. S. Ninnis and Dr. X. Mertz both lost their lives and my arrival back at Winter Quarters was delayed for so long, that the 'Aurora' was forced to leave five men for another year to prosecute a search for the missing party. The remainder of the men, ten in number, and the party fifteen hundred miles to the west were landed safely at Hobart in March 1912.
Thus the prearranged plans were upset by my non-return and the administration of the Expedition in Australia was carried out by Professor David, whose special knowledge was invaluable at such a juncture.
Funds were once more required, and, during the summer of 1912, Captain Davis visited London and secured additional support, while the Australasian Association for the Advancement of Science again successfully approached the Commonwealth Government (The Right Hon. J. H. Cook, Prime Minister). In all, the sum of L8000 was raised to meet the demands of a second voyage of relief.
The party left on Macquarie Island, who had agreed to remain at the station for another year, ran short of food during their second winter. The New Zealand Government rendered the Expedition a great service in dispatching stores to them by the 'Tutanekai' without delay.
Finally, in the summer of 1913, the 'Aurora' set out on her third cruise to the far South, picking up the parties at Macquarie Island and in the Antarctic, carried out observations for two months amid the ice and reached Adelaide late in February 1914.
Throughout a period of more than three years Professors David and Masson—the fathers of the Expedition—worked indefatigably and unselfishly in its interests. Unbeknown to them I have taken the liberty to reproduce the only photographs at hand of these gentlemen, which action I hope they will view favourably. That of Professor David needs some explanation: It is a snapshot taken at Relief Inlet, South Victoria Land, at the moment when the Northern Party of Shackleton's Expedition, February 1909, was rescued by the S.Y. 'Nimrod'.
In shipping arrangements Capt. Davis was assisted throughout by Mr. J. J. Kinsey, Christchurch, Capt. Barter, Sydney, and Mr. F. Hammond, Hobart.
Such an undertaking is the work of a multitude and it is only by sympathetic support from many sources that a measure of success can be expected. In this connexion there are many names which I recall with warm gratitude. It is impossible to mention all to whom the Expedition is indebted, but I trust that none of those who have taken a prominent part will fail to find an acknowledgment somewhere in these volumes.
I should specially mention the friendly help afforded by the Australasian Press, which has at all times given the Expedition favourable and lengthy notices, insisting on its national and scientific character.
With regard to the conduct of the work itself, I was seconded by the whole-hearted co-operation of the members, my comrades, and what they have done can only be indicated in this narrative.
CHAPTER I THE PROBLEM AND PREPARATIONS
CHAPTER II THE LAST DAYS AT HOBART AND THE VOYAGE TO MACQUARIE ISLAND
CHAPTER III FROM MACQUARIE ISLAND TO ADELIE LAND
CHAPTER IV NEW LANDS
CHAPTER V FIRST DAYS IN ADELIE LAND
CHAPTER VI AUTUMN PROSPECTS
CHAPTER VII THE BLIZZARD
CHAPTER VIII DOMESTIC LIFE
CHAPTER IX MIDWINTER AND ITS WORK
CHAPTER X THE PREPARATION OF SLEDGING EQUIPMENT 176
CHAPTER XI SPRING EXPLOITS
CHAPTER XII ACROSS KING GEORGE V LAND
CHAPTER XIII TOIL AND TRIBULATION
CHAPTER XIV THE QUEST OF THE SOUTH MAGNETIC POLE
CHAPTER XV EASTWARD OVER THE SEA-ICE
CHAPTER XVI HORN BLUFF AND PENGUIN POINT
CHAPTER XVII WITH STILLWELL'S AND BICKERTON'S PARTIES
CHAPTER XVIII THE SHIP'S STORY. BY CAPTAIN J. K. DAVIS
CHAPTER XIX THE WESTERN BASE—ESTABLISHMENT AND EARLY ADVENTURES. BY F. WILD
CHAPTER XX THE WESTERN BASE—WINTER AND SPRING
CHAPTER XXI THE WESTERN BASE—BLOCKED ON THE SHELF-ICE. BY F. WILD
CHAPTER XXII THE WESTERN BASE—LINKING UP WITH KAISER WILHELM II LAND
CHAPTER XXIII A SECOND WINTER
CHAPTER XXIV NEARING THE END
CHAPTER XXV LIFE ON MACQUARIE ISLAND. BY G. F. AINSWORTH
CHAPTER XXVI A LAND OF STORM AND MIST. BY G. F. AINSWORTH
CHAPTER XXVII THROUGH ANOTHER YEAR. BY G. F. AINSWORTH
CHAPTER XXVIII THE HOMEWARD CRUISE
APPENDIX I THE STAFF
APPENDIX II SCIENTIFIC WORK
APPENDIX III AN HISTORICAL SUMMARY
APPENDIX IV GLOSSARY
APPENDIX V MEDICAL REPORTS:
WESTERN BASE (QUEEN MARY LAND). BY S. E. JONES, M.B., Ch.M.
MAIN BASE (ADELIE LAND). BY A. L. McLEAN, M.B., Ch.M., B.A.
APPENDIX VI FINANCE
APPENDIX VII EQUIPMENT
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
Sir Douglas Mawson (Photogravure)
In Memoriam cross at Cape Denison (Photogravure)
A weather-worn snow-berg
A grottoed iceberg
The Mertz Glacier Tongue, at a point 50 miles from the land
The Grey Rock Hills at Cape Denison
Winter quarters, Adelie Land
"Antarctica is a world of colour, brilliant and intensely pure..."
Sledging in Adelie Land
Islets fringing the mainland: view looking west from Stillwell Island
Rafts of floe-ice
Before sunrise: camped near the Hippo Nunatak
The great "Bergschrund" of the Denman Glacier
Tussock slopes and misty highlands
The shack and its vicinity
A Victoria penguin on the nest
A growth of lichen on red sandstone
Antarctic marine life
Brought up in the deep-sea trawl
Professor T. W. Edgeworth David
Professor Orme Masson
Captain John King Davis
The wall of the Antarctic Continent
Finner whales of the South
The 'Aurora' crossing the equator, August 1911
Ginger and her family on the voyage from London
Queen's Wharf, Hobart, an hour before sailing, December 2, 1911
The last view of Hobart nestling below Mt. Wellington
A big, following sea
McLean walking aft in rough weather
Cruising along the west coast of Macquarie Island
A Giant Petrel on the nest
A Young Giant Petrel on the nest. Caroline Cove
The wreck of the "Clyde"
The boat harbour—Hassleborough Bay
The North End of Macquarie Island showing Wireless Hill. The living hut is at the north end of the isthmus, with North-East Bay on the right and Hassleborough Bay on the left side
The 'Aurora' anchored in Hassleborough Bay. In the foreground giant seaweed is swinging in the wash of the surge
A Wanderer Albatross at rest on the water
Hunter tickles a sleeping baby Sea Elephant
A typical Table-Topped neve berg originating from floating Shelf Ice
An Antarctic iceberg with a reticulation of crevasses on its tilted surface. This berg had no doubt taken its origin from the ice of the coastal cliffs of Adelie Land
A cavern in the wall (120 feet) of the shelf ice of the Mertz Glacier-Tongue
A glimpse from within the cavern (shown in the preceding illustration)
The 'Aurora' in Commonwealth Bay; the rising plateau of Adelie Land in the distance
The invaluable motor-launch; left to right, Hamilton, Bickerton, and Blake
The whale-boat with passengers for the shore; Wild at the steering oar
First steps in the formation of the Main Base Station; landing of stores and equipment at the head of the Boat Harbour, Cape Denison. In the distance men are to be seen sledging the materials to the site selected for the erection of the hut
A view of a rocky stretch of the Adelie Land Coast west of Commonwealth Bay
A panorama looking west from winter quarters. On the left and in the distance are the rising slopes of the inland ice. The moraine is in the foreground
A panorama of the sea front looking eastward from winter quarters. The plateau slopes are visible to a height of l500 feet
In open pack-ice
The face of the Shackleton Ice-Shelf 100 miles north of the mainland. Each strongly-marked horizontal band on the sheer wall represents a year's snowfall
The 'Aurora' anchored to thick floe-ice 100 miles north of the western base, Queen Mary Land. In this region the annual snowfall is very heavy, so that it is possible that the great thickness of floe is due to the accumulation of one year
A berg with inclusions of mud and rock. Long. 10 degrees E.
The 'Flying-Fox' viewed from the floe-ice below the brink of the shelf ice on which the western party wintered
Summer at the boat harbour, Cape Denison
An Adelie penguin on the nest defending her eggs
The living-hut, nearing completion. The tents and shelter built of benzine cases used as temporary quarters are shown
The completion of the hut—cheering the Union Jack as it was hoisted on the flag pole
Adelie penguins at home, Cape Denison
A view of the main base hut in February 1912, just prior to its completion. Within a few days of the taking of this picture the hut became so buried in packed snow that ever afterwards little beyond the roof was to be seen
Weddell seals asleep on pancake ice
Adelie penguin after weathering a severe blizzard. observe the lumps of ice adhering to it
A Panoramic view looking south from near the hut. In the distance are the slopes of the inland ice-sheet. In the foreground is the terminal moraine. Between the rocks and the figure is a zone where rapid thawing takes place in the summer owing to the amount of dirt contained in the ice
A panoramic view looking north towards the sea. In the middle of the picture is Round Lake. The hut is towards the left-hand side and the anemograph is on the hill. The men are practising ski running
An evening view from Cape Denison
The head of a Weddell seal
A Weddell seal scratching himself. "Drat those fleas!"
The meteorologist with an ice-mask
Where the plateau descends to Commonwealth Bay
MacCormick Skua gull on the nest with egg
Chick of MacCormick Skua gull on the nest
Protection—Adelie penguin and chick
The lower moraine, composed of water worn boulders, Cape Denison
An ice-polished surface, Cape Denison
The boat harbour in March. The hut is seen dimly through light drift
"Race of the Spray Smoke's Hurtling Sheet"
Walking against a strong wind
Picking ice for domestic purposes in a hurricane wind. Note the high angle at which Webb is leaning on the wind
Leaning upon the wind; Madigan near the meteorological screen
Stillwell collecting geological specimens in the wind
In the blizzard; getting ice for domestic purposes from the glacier adjacent to the hut
An incident in March soon after the completion of the hut: Hodgeman, the night watchman, returning from his rounds outside, pushes his way into the veranda through the rapidly accumulating drift snow
Mertz in the snow tunnels on his way to the interior of the hut with a box of ice for the melters
Mertz emerging from the trap-door in the roof
Working in the hurricane wind, Adelie Land
Getting ice for domestic purposes. Whetter picking; Madigan with the ice-box
The ice-cliff coastline east of winter quarters
Madigan's frostbitten face
Correll, Bage, McLean, Hodgeman, Hunter, and Bickerton
A winter afternoon scene in the hut. From the left: Mertz, McLean, Madigan, Hunter, Hodgeman. High on the left is the acetylene generator
Taking a turn in the kitchen department. Hunter, Hodgeman, Bage. The doorway on the right is the entrance to the workroom
A corner of the hut—Bage mending his sleeping bag. The bunks in two tiers around the wall are almost hidden by the clothing hanging from the ceiling
A winter evening at the hut. Standing up: Mawson, Madigan, Ninnis, and Correll. Sitting round the table from left to right: Stillwell, Close, McLean, Hunter, Hannam, Hodgeman, Murphy, Lasebon, Bickerton, Mertz, and Bage
A morning in the workshop. From left to right: Hodgeman, Hunter, Lasebon, Correll, and Hannam. The petrol engine part of the wireless plant on the right
Welding by thermit in the workroom, Adelie Land. Bickerton, Correll, Hannam and Mawson
In the catacombs. Ninnis on the right
Bage and his tide gauge which was erected on the frozen bay ice
Raising the lower section of the northern wireless mast
The weathered cliffs of a glacier sheet pushing out into the frozen sea east of Cape Denison
Bage at the door of his astronomical transit House
Webb and his magnetograph house
At work on the air-tractor sledge in the hangar; Bage, Ninnis, and Bickerton
Webb adjusting the instruments in the magnetograph house a calm noon in winter, Cape Denison
The ridged surface of a lake frozen during a blizzard
A lively scene in the vicinity of an Antarctic Petrel rookery, Cape Hunter
A Weddell seal swimming below the ice-foot
A rascally Sea Leopard casting a wicked eye over the broken floe at Land's End. Main Base
A Crab-Eater seal; common amongst the pack-ice
The rare Ross seal
One of McLean's cultures; bacteria and moulds; illustrating micro-organisms in the hut
Ice flowers on the newly formed sea-ice
Madigan visiting the anemograph screen in a high wind
The Puffometer, designed to record maximum gust velocities
An enormous cone of snow piled up by the blizzards under the coastal cliffs
The cliffs at Land's End, Cape Denison. On the brow of the cliff in front of the figure (Mertz) is a good example of a snow cornice
On the frozen sea in a cavern eaten out by the waves under the coastal ice-cliffs
Ice stalactites draping the foreshores
A grotto of "mysteries"
The relief of Wild's party. The "Aurora" approaching the floe at the western base, February 1913
Pacing the deck: Capt. John King Davis and Capt. James Davis
An Adelie penguin feeding its young
"Amundsen", one of the sledge dogs sent down to us from Amundsen's South Polar Expedition
At the foot of a snow ramp beneath the coastal ice-cliffs, Commonwealth Bay
At Aladdin's Cave. The vertical passage leading down into the cave itself is situated immediately behind the figure on the right
Beneath the surface of the plateau. Bage preparing a meal in Aladdin's Cave in August
Laseron and Hunter using the collapsible steel handcart in preparing for dredging on the frozen sea
Greenland Sledging Dogs—"John Bull" and "Ginger"—tethered on the rocks adjacent to the hut
The Mackellar islets viewed from an elevation of 800 feet on the mainland
Snow Petrels preparing to nest, Cape Denison
A Snow Petrel on the nest
Adelie penguins diving into the sea in quest of food
Adelie penguins jumping on to the floe
Mertz in an icy ravine
Mertz and Ninnis arrive with the dogs at Aladdin's Cave
Mertz emerging from Aladdin's Cave
A team of dogs eagerly following Ninnis
The dogs enjoy their work
A distant view of Aurora Peak from the west
Lieutenant B. E. S. Ninnis, R.F.
Mertz, Ninnis, and Mawson erecting the tent in a high wind
A later stage in erection of the tent in a wind (one man is inside)
Dr. Xavier Mertz
Pages from Dr. Mertz' diary
Mawson emerging from his makeshift tent
The half-sledge used in the last stage of Mawson's journey
"...The long journey was at an end—a terrible chapter of my life was finished!"
The southern supporting party on the plateau. Hunter, Murphy and Laseron
The southern and supporting parties building a depot on the plateau
Depot made by the southern and supporting parties at a point 67 miles south of Commonwealth Bay. Murphy, Laseron, and Hunter packing sledge in the foreground; Bage in the distance
A rough sledging surface of high Sastrugi encountered by the southern party 200 miles S.S.E. of the hut
Farthest south camp of southern party, 17 "minutes" (about 50 miles) from the South Magnetic Pole. Bage near sledge; Webb taking set of magnetic observations behind snow barricade
Sastrugi furrowed by the mighty winds of the plateau, 250 miles S.S.E. of winter quarters, Adelie Land
Under reefed sail. Southern party 290 miles S.S.E. of winter quarters, Adelie Land
Hurley in sledging gear
Correll on the edge of a ravine in the ice sheet
Madigan's, Murphy's, and Stillwell's parties breaking camp at Aladdin's Cave at the commencement of the summer journeys
The surface of the continental ice sheet in the coastal region where it is badly crevassed
Working the sledge through broken sea ice, 46 miles off King George V Land. Madigan, Correll and McLean
The "Organ-Pipes" of Horn Bluff (1000 feet in height) pushing out from the mainland
Madigan, Correll and McLean camped below the cliffs of Horn Bluff (1000 FEET IN height). Columnar Dolerite is seen surmounting a sedimentary series partly buried in the talus-slope
An outcrop of a sedimentary formation containing bands of coal projecting through the talus slope below the columnar dolerite at Horn Bluff
The face of a granite outcrop near penguin point. At its base is a tide crack and ice foot
The granite cliffs at Penguin Point where Cape Pigeon and Silver Petrel rookeries were found; the site of New Year's Camp
Madigan Nunatak—Close and Laseron standing by the sledge
A desolate camp on the plateau
Sledging rations for three men for three months
Stillwell Island—a haunt of the Silver-Grey petrel
"The Bus", the air-tractor sledge
Bickerton and his sledge with detachable wheels
Amongst the splintered ice where the ice-sheet descends to the sea near Cape Denison
The big winding-drum for the deep-sea dredging cable
Fletcher with the driver loaded ready to take a sounding
At the provision depot for castaways provided by the New Zealand Government, Camp Cove, Carnley Harbour, Auckland Island. Primmer on the right
The brick pier erected at Port Ross, Auckland Islands, by the magneticians of Sir James Clarke Ross's Expedition
The "Aurora" at anchor in Port Ross, Auckland Islands
The Monagasque trawl hoisted on the derrick: Gray standing by
A remarkable berg, two cusps standing on a single basement. Note that it has risen considerably out of the sea, exposing old water lines
A portal worn through a berg by the waves
A turreted berg
A Midsummer view of the hut and its neighbourhood, looking S.E.
Forging through pack-ice
Members of the main base party homeward bound, January 1913. From left to right: back row, Whetter, Hurley, Webb, Hannam, Laseron, Close; front row, Stillwell, Hunter, Correll, Murphy
"Wireless" Corner in the workshop. Our link with civilization
The "Aurora" anchored to the floe off the western base
The establishment of the western base. Hauling stores to the top of the ice-shelf
The western base hut in winter. Note the entrance; a vertical hole in the snow in the foreground
The western base hut—The Grottoes—in summer
An evening camp, Queen Mary Land
A man-hauled sledge
In the veranda of the western base hut—The "Grottoes"—looking towards the entrance dug vertically down through the snow drift
The wind-weathered igloo built for magnetic observations—western base
Nunatak—Queen Mary Land: showing remarkable moat on windward side and ramp on lee
Midwinter's dinner in Queen Mary Land, 1912. From left to right: Behind—Hoadley, Dovers, Watson, Harrisson, Wild. In Front—Jones, Moyes, Kennedy
A bevy of Emperor penguins on the floe
A yawning crevasse
Wild's party making slow progress in dangerous country
Wild, Kennedy, and Harrisson amongst the abysses of the Denman glacier
"The whole was the wildest, maddest and yet the grandest thing imaginable"
Wild's party working their sledges through the crushed ice at the foot of Denman glacier
The Hippo Nunatak
Where the floe-ice meets the Shackleton Shelf
The hummocky floe on the southern margin of the Davis Sea
View showing the young birds massed together at the Emperor penguins' rookery at Haswell Island
Antarctic petrels on the nest
A Snow petrel chick on the nest
A Silver-Grey petrel on the nest
The symmetrically domed outline of Drygalski Island, low on the horizon. The island is 1200 feet high and 9 miles in diameter
The main western party on their return to the "Grottoes." from the left: Hoadley, Jones and Dovers
Blizzard-harassed penguins, after many days buried in the snow
The pancake ice under the cliffs at Land's End
A wonderful canopy of ice
Sastrugi sculptured by the incessant blizzards
The terminal moraine, near the hut, Cape Denison
Disappearing in the drift
The hut looming through the drift
A wall of solid gneiss near winter quarters
An erratic on the moraine. Cape Denison
Frozen spray built up by the blizzards along the shore
A view of the mainland from the Mackellar Islets: ice-capped islets in the foreground: the rock visible on the mainland is Cape Denison
A Wilson petrel on the nest, Mackellar Islets
The "Aurora" lying at anchor, Commonwealth Bay; in the distance the ice-slopes of the mainland are visible rising to a height of 3500 feet. In the foreground is a striking formation originating by the freezing of spray dashed up by the hurricane wind
The shack: showing the natural rocky protection on the windward side
The interior of the operating hut on Wireless Hill
Weka pecking on the beach
Chicks of the Dominican gull
Macquarie Island Skuas feeding
Bull Sea Elephants fighting
The thermometer screen, Macquarie Island
The wind-recording instruments, Macquarie Island
"Feather bed" terrace near Eagle Point, Macquarie Island
A glacial lake (Major Lake) on Macquarie Island, 600 feet above sea level
View of the wireless station on the summit of Wireless Hill
The wireless operating hut
The wireless engine hut
Panoramic view of Macquarie Island, as seen from Wireless Hill at the north extremity of the island. The shack is near the bottom of the picture on the left-hand side: the sealers' hut at the far end of the isthmus: the distant left-hand point of the coast is the Nuggets: north-east bay on the left: Hasselborough Bay on the right
A view of the shore at The Nuggets: the sealers' shed on the right. the bare patches far inland high on the hills above the shed are Royal penguins' rookeries, from which they travel to the beach in a long procession
Sooty albatrosses nesting
A white Giant Petrel on the nest
A Giant Petrel rookery
The Macquarie Island party. From left to right: Sandell, Ainsworth, Sawyer, Hamilton, Blake
The head of a Sea Leopard, showing fight
A precocious Victoria penguin
Young male Sea Elephants at play
A large Sea Leopard on the beach
A Sea Elephant
A cormorant rookery, Hasselborough Bay
A young King penguin
A Sclater penguin
Royal penguins on the nest
Gentoo penguin and young
A cow Sea Elephant and pup
The head of a bull Sea Elephant
A rookery of Sea Elephants near the shore at the Nelson reef, chiefly cows and pups
A bull Sea Elephant in a fighting attitude
A cormorant and young on nest
The wild West Coast of Macquarie Island
A Royal penguins rookery
The wreck of the "Gratitude" on the Nuggets beach
Darby and Joan. Two rare examples of penguins which visited the shack, Macquarie Island. On the left a Sclater penguin, on the right an albino Royal penguin
Large erratics and other glacial debris on the summit of Macquarie Island
Pillow-form lava on the highlands of Macquarie Island
Waterfall Lake, of glacial origin
On the plateau-like summit of Macquarie Island; a panorama near the north end. Glacial lakes and tarns in the foreground
The King penguins rookery, Lusitania Bay
The head of a bull Sea Elephant photographed in the act of roaring
The rookery of Royal penguins at the south end, viewed from a cliff several hundred feet above it
Young Sea Elephants asleep amongst Royal penguins, south end rookery
Hamilton inspecting a good catch of fish at Lusitania Bay
Hamilton obtaining the blubber of a Sea Elephant for fuel
An illustration of the life on the Mackellar Islets
An ice mushroom amongst the Mackellar Islets
View looking out of a shallow ravine at the eastern extremity of the rocks at Cape Denison
"Hurley had before him a picture in perfect proportion...."
Antarctic petrels resting on the snow
Silver-grey petrels making love
Looking towards the mainland from Stillwell Island: Silver-grey petrels nesting in the foreground
Antarctic petrels nesting on the rocky ledges of the cliffs near Cape Hunter
Icing ship in the pack north of Termination Ice-tongue
Emperor penguins follow the leader into the sea
Emperor penguins jumping on to the floe
Cape Hunter, composed of ancient sedimentary rocks (Phyllites)
Examples of Antarctic marine crustaceans
Antarctic discoveries preceding the year 1910
Plan and section of the S.Y. 'Aurora"
Map of Macquarie Island by L. R. BLAKE
Ships' tracks in the vicinity of Totten's Land and North's Land
Ships' tracks in the vicinity of Knox Land and Budd Land
Plan of the hut, Adelie Land
Sections across the hut, Adelie Land
The vicinity of the main base, Adelie Land
A section of the coastal slope of the continental ice-sheet inland from winter quarters, Adelie Land
Wind velocity and wind direction charts for a period of twenty-four hours, Adelie Land
A comparison of wind velocities and temperatures prevailing at Cape Royds, McMurdo Sound, and at winter quarters, Adelie Land, during the months of May and June
The wind velocity and wind direction charts for midwinter day
Midwinter Day menu at the main base, Adelie Land, 1912
Section through a Nansen sledging cooker mounted on the Primus
Map showing the track of the southern sledging party from the main base
Map showing the remarkable distribution of islets fringing the coast-line of Adelie Land in the vicinity of Cape Gray
Map showing the tracks of the western sledging party, Adelie Land
Plan illustrating the arrangements for deep-sea trawling on board the "Aurora"
Map of the Auckland Islands
The "Contents" page of the first number of the "Adelie Blizzard"
The meteorological chart for April 12, 1913, compiled by the Commonwealth Meteorological Bureau
A diagrammatic sketch illustrating the meteorological conditions at the main base, noon, September 6, 1913
Plan of the hut, Macquarie Island
Map of the north end of Macquarie Island by L. R. Blake
A section across Macquarie Island through Mt. Elder, by L. R. Blake
A sketch illustrating the distribution of the Mackellar Islets
A section illustrating the moat in the Antarctic continental shelf
Signatures of members of the land parties
A section of the Antarctic plateau from the coast to a point 300 miles inland, along the route followed by the southern sledging party
A section across a part of the Antarctic continent through the South Magnetic Pole
A section of the floor of the Southern Ocean between Tasmania and King George V Land
A section of the floor of the Southern Ocean between Western Australia and Queen Mary Land
A map showing Antarctic land discoveries preceding 1838
A map showing Antarctic land discoveries preceding 1896
A map of the Antarctic regions as known at the present day
Regional map showing the area covered by the Australasian Antarctic Expedition, 1911-1914
King George V Land, showing tracks of the eastern sledging parties from the main base
Queen Mary Land, showing tracks of the sledging party from the main base
CHAPTER I THE PROBLEM AND PREPARATIONS
Notwithstanding the fact that it has been repeatedly stated in the public press that the Australasian Antarctic expedition had no intention of making the South Geographical Pole its objective, it is evident that our aims were not properly realized by a large section of the British public, considering that many references have appeared in print attributing that purpose to the undertaking. With three other Antarctic expeditions already in the field, it appeared to many, therefore, that the venture was entirely superfluous.
The Expedition had a problem sketched in unmistakable feature, and the following pages will shortly set forth its historical origin and rationale.
The Antarctic problem** assumed its modern aspect after Captain Cook's circumnavigation of the globe in high southern latitudes, accomplished between 1772 and 1775. Fact replaced the fiction and surmise of former times, and maps appeared showing a large blank area at the southern extremity of the earth, where speculative cartographers had affirmed the existence of habitable land extending far towards the Equator. Cook's voyage made it clear that if there were any considerable mass of Antarctic land, it must indubitably lie within the Antarctic Circle, and be subjected to such stringent climatic conditions as to render it an unlikely habitation for man.
** Dr. H. R. Mill has compiled a complete account of Antarctic exploration in his "Siege of the South Pole." Refer also to the Historical Appendix for an abridged statement.
Cook's reports of seals on the island of South Georgia initiated in the Antarctic seas south of America a commercial enterprise, which is still carried on, and has incidentally thrown much light upon the geography of the South Polar regions. Indeed, almost the whole of such information, prior to the year 1839, was the outcome of sealing and whaling projects.
About the year 1840, a wave of scientific enthusiasm resulted in the dispatch of three national expeditions by France, the United States, and Great Britain; part at least of whose programmes was Antarctic exploration. Russia had previously sent out an expedition which had made notable discoveries.
The contributions to knowledge gained at this period were considerable. Those carried back to civilization by the British expedition under Ross, are so well known that they need not be described. The French under Dumont D'Urville and the Americans under Wilkes visited the region to the southward of Australia—the arena of our own efforts—and frequent references will be made to their work throughout this story.
What has been termed the period of averted interest now intervened, before the modern movement set in with overpowering insistence. It was not till 1897 that it had commenced in earnest. Since then many adventurers have gone forth; most of the prominent civilized nations taking their share in exploration. By their joint efforts some, at least, of the mystery of Antarctica has been dispelled.
It is now a commonplace, largely in the world of geographical concerns, that the earth has still another continent, unique in character, whose ultimate bounds are merely pieced together from a fragmentary outline. The Continent itself appears to have been sighted for the first time in the year 1820, but no human being actually set foot on it until 1895. The Belgian expedition under de Gerlache was the first to experience the Antarctic winter, spending the year 1898 drifting helplessly, frozen in the pack-ice, to the southward of America. In the following year a British expedition under Borchgrevinck, wintering at Cape Adare, passed a year upon the Antarctic mainland.
The main efforts of recent years have been centred upon the two more accessible areas, namely, that in the American Quadrant** which is prolonged as a tongue of land outside the Antarctic Circle, being consequently less beset by ice; secondly, the vicinity of the Ross Sea in the Australian Quadrant. It is because these two favoured domains have for special reasons attracted the stream of exploration that the major portion of Antarctica is unknown. Nevertheless, one is in a position to sketch broad features which will probably not be radically altered by any future expeditions.
** For convenience, the Antarctic regions may be referred to in four main divisions, corresponding with the quadrants of the hemisphere. Of the several suggestions thrown out by previous writers, the one adopted here is that based on the meridian of Greenwich, referring the quadrants to an adjacent continent or ocean. Thus the American Quadrant lies between 0 degrees and 90 degrees W., the African Quadrant between 0 degrees and 90 degrees E., and the Australian Quadrant between 90 degrees and 180 degrees E. The fourth division is called the Pacific Quadrant, since ocean alone lies to the north of it.
Certain it is that a continent approaching the combined areas of Australia and Europe lies more or less buried beneath the South Polar snows; though any statement of the precise area is insufficient for a proper appreciation of the magnitude, unless its elevated plateau-like character be also taken into consideration. It appears to be highest over a wide central crown rising to more than ten thousand feet. Of the remainder, there is little doubt that the major portion stands as high as six thousand feet. The average elevation must far exceed that of any other continent, for, with peaks nineteen thousand feet above sea-level, its mountainous topography is remarkable. Along the coast of Victoria Land, in the Australian Quadrant, are some of the most majestic vistas of alpine scenery that the world affords. Rock exposures are rare, ice appearing everywhere except in the most favoured places.
Regarding plant and animal life upon the land there is little to say. The vegetable kingdom is represented by plants of low organization such as mosses, lichens, diatoms and algae. The animal world, so far as true land-forms are concerned, is limited to types like the protozoa (lowest in the organic scale), rotifera and minute insect-like mites which lurk hidden away amongst the tufts of moss or on the under side of loose stones. Bacteria, most fundamental of all, at the basis, so to speak, of animal and vegetable life, have a manifold distribution.
It is a very different matter when we turn to the life of the neighbouring seas, for that vies in abundance with the warmer waters of lower latitudes. There are innumerable seals, many sea-birds and millions of penguins. As all these breed on Antarctic shores, the coastal margin of the continent is not so desolate.
In view of the fact that life, including land-mammals, is abundant in the North Polar regions, it may be asked why analogous forms are not better represented in corresponding southern latitudes. Without going too deeply into the question, it may be briefly stated, firstly, that a more widespread glaciation than at present prevails invested the great southern continent and its environing seas, within recent geological times, effectually exterminating any pre-existing land life. Secondly, since that period the continent has been isolated by a wide belt of ocean from other lands, from which restocking might have taken place after the manner of the North Polar regions. Finally, climatic conditions in the Antarctic are, latitude for latitude, much more severe than in the Arctic.
With regard to climate in general, Antarctica has the lowest mean temperature and the highest wind-velocity of any land existing. This naturally follows from the fact that it is a lofty expanse of ice-clad land circumscribing the Pole, and that the Antarctic summer occurs when the earth is farther from the sun than is the case during the Arctic summer.
There are those who would impatiently ask, "What is the use of it all?" The answer is brief.
Antarctic Land discoveries preceding the year 1910
The polar regions, like any other part of the globe, may be said to be paved with facts, the essence of which it is necessary to acquire before knowledge of this special zone can be brought to even a provisional exactitude. On the face of it, polar research may seem to be specific and discriminating, but it must be remembered that an advance in any one of the departments into which, for convenience, science is artificially divided, conduces to the advantage of all. Science is a homogeneous whole. If we ignore the facts contained in one part of the world, surely we are hampering scientific advance. It is obvious to every one that, given only a fraction of the pieces, it is a much more difficult task to put together a jig-saw puzzle and obtain an idea of the finished pattern than were all the pieces at hand. The pieces of the jig-saw puzzle are the data of science.
Though it is not sufficiently recognized, the advance of science is attended by a corresponding increase in the creature comforts of man. Again, from an economic aspect, the frozen South may not attract immediate attention. But who can say what a train of enterprise the future may bring?
Captain James Cook, on his return to London after the circumnavigation of Antarctica, held that the far-southern lands had no future. Yet, a few years later, great profits were being returned to Great Britain and the United States from sealing-stations established as a result of Cook's own observations. At the present day, several whaling companies have flourishing industries in the Antarctic waters within the American Quadrant.
Even now much can be said in regard to the possibilities offered by the Antarctic regions for economic development, but, year by year, the outlook will widen, since man is constantly resorting to subtler and more ingenious artifice in applying Nature's resources. It will be remembered that Charles Darwin, when in Australia, predicted a very limited commercial future for New South Wales. But the mastery of man overcame the difficulties which Darwin's too penetrating mind foresaw.
What will be the role of the South in the progress of civilization and in the development of the arts and sciences, is not now obvious. As sure as there is here a vast mass of land with potentialities, strictly limited at present, so surely will it be cemented some day within the universal plinth of things.
An unknown coast-line lay before the door of Australia. Following on the general advance of exploration, and as a sequel to several important discoveries, the time arrived when a complete elucidation of the Antarctic problem was more than ever desirable. In the Australian Quadrant, the broad geographical features of the Ross Sea area were well known, but of the remainder and greater portion of the tract only vague and imperfect reports could be supplied.
Before submitting our plans in outline, it will be as well to review the stage at which discovery had arrived when our Expedition came upon the scene.
The coast-line of the eastern extremity of the Australian Quadrant, including the outline of the Ross Sea and the coast west-north-west of Cape Adare as far as Cape North, was charted by Ross and has been amplified by seven later expeditions. In the region west of Cape North, recent explorers had done little up till 1911. Scott in the 'Discovery' had disproved the existence of some of Wilkes's land; Shackleton in the 'Nimrod' had viewed some forty miles of high land beyond Cape North; lastly, on the eve of our departure, Scott's 'Terra Nova' had met two patches of new land—Oates Land—still farther west, making it evident that the continent ranged at least two hundred and eighty miles in a west-north-west direction from Cape Adare.
Just outside the western limit of the Australian Quadrant lies Gaussberg, discovered by a German expedition under Drygalski in 1902. Between the most westerly point sighted by the 'Terra Nova' and Gaussberg, there is a circuit of two thousand miles, bordering the Antarctic Circle, which no vessel had navigated previous to 1840.
This was the arena of our activities and, therefore, a synopsis of the voyages of early mariners will be enlightening.
Balleny, a whaling-master, with the schooner 'Eliza Scott' of one hundred and fifty-four tons, and a cutter, the 'Sabrina' of fifty-four tons, was the first to meet with success in these waters. Proceeding southward from New Zealand in 1839, he located the Balleny Islands, a group containing active volcanoes, lying about two hundred miles off the nearest part of the mainland and to the north-west of Cape Adare. Leaving these islands, Balleny sailed westward keeping a look-out for new land. During a gale the vessels became separated and the 'Sabrina' was lost with all hands. Balleny in the 'Eliza Scott' arrived safely in England and reported doubtful land in 122 degrees E. longitude, approximately. Dr. H. R. Mill says: "Although the name of the cutter 'Sabrina' has been given to an appearance of land at this point, we cannot look upon its discovery as proved by the vague reference made by the explorers."
On January 1, 1840, Dumont D'Urville sailed southward from Hobart in command of two corvettes, the 'Astrolabe' and the 'Zelee'. Without much obstruction from floating ice, he came within sight of the Antarctic coast, thenceforth known as Adelie Land. The expedition did not set foot on the mainland, but on an adjacent island. They remained in the vicinity of the coast for a few days, when a gale sprang up which was hazardously weathered on the windward side of the pack-ice. The ships then cruised along the face of flat-topped ice-cliffs, of the type known as barrier-ice or shelf-ice, which were taken to be connected with land and named Cote Clarie. As will be seen later, Cote Clarie does not exist.
Dr. H. R. Mill sums up the work done by the French expedition during its eleven days' sojourn in the vicinity of the Antarctic coast:
"D'Urville's discoveries of land were of but little account. He twice traced out considerable stretches of a solid barrier of ice, and at one point saw and landed upon rocks in front of it; but he could only give the vaguest account of what lay behind the barrier."
Wilkes of the American expedition proceeded south from Sydney at the close of 1839. His vessels were the 'Vincennes', a sloop of war of seven hundred and eighty tons, the 'Peacock', another sloop of six hundred and fifty tons, the 'Porpoise', a gun-brig of two hundred and thirty tons and a tender, the 'Flying Fish' of ninety-six tons. The scientists of the expedition were precluded from joining in this part of the programme, and were left behind in Sydney. Wilkes himself was loud in his denunciation both of the ships and of the stores, though they had been specially assembled by the naval department. The ships were in Antarctic waters for a period of forty-two days, most of the time separated by gales, during which the crews showed great skill in navigating their ill-fitted crafts and suffered great hardships.
Land was reported almost daily, but, unfortunately, subsequent exploration has shown that most of the landfalls do not exist. Several soundings made by Wilkes were indicative of the approach to land, but he must have frequently mistaken for it distant ice-masses frozen in the pack. Experience has proved what deceptive light-effects may be observed amid the ice and how easily a mirage may simulate reality.
Whatever the cause of Wilkes's errors, the truth remains that Ross sailed over land indicated in a rough chart which had been forwarded to him by Wilkes, just before the British expedition set out. More recently, Captain Scott in the 'Discovery' erased many of the landfalls of Wilkes, and now we have still further reduced their number. The 'Challenger' approached within fifteen miles of the western extremity of Wilkes's Termination Land, but saw no sign of it. The 'Gauss' in the same waters charted Kaiser Wilhelm II Land well to the south of Termination Land, and the eastward continuation of the former could not have been visible from Wilkes's ship. After the voyage of the 'Discovery', the landfalls, the existence of which had not been disproved, might well have been regarded as requiring confirmation before their validity could be recognised.
The only spot where rocks were reported in situ was in Adelie Land, where the French had anticipated the Americans by seven days. Farther west, earth and stones had been collected by Wilkes from material embedded in floating masses of ice off the coast of his Knox Land. These facts lend credence to Wilkes's claims of land in that vicinity. His expedition did not once set foot on Antarctic shores, and, possibly on account of the absence of the scientific staff, his descriptions tend to be inexact and obscure. The soundings made by Wilkes were sufficient to show that he was probably in some places at no great distance from the coast, and, considering that his work was carried out in the days of sailing-ships, in unsuitable craft, under the most adverse weather conditions, with crews scurvy-stricken and discontented, it is wonderful how much was achieved. We may amply testify that he did more than open the field for future expeditions.
After we had taken into account the valuable soundings of the 'Challenger' (1872), the above comprised our knowledge concerning some two thousand miles of prospective coast lying to the southward of Australia, at a time when the plans of the Australasian expedition were being formulated.
The original plans for the expedition were somewhat modified upon my return from Europe. Briefly stated, it was decided that a party of five men should be stationed at Macquarie Island, a sub-antarctic possession of the Commonwealth. They were to be provided with a hut, stores and a complete wireless plant, and were to prosecute general scientific investigations, co-operating with the Antarctic bases in meteorological and other work. After disembarking the party at Macquarie Island, the 'Aurora' was to proceed south on a meridian of 158 degrees E. longitude, to the westward of which the Antarctic programme was to be conducted.
Twelve men, provisioned and equipped for a year's campaign and provided with wireless apparatus, were to be landed in Antarctica on the first possible opportunity at what would constitute a main base. Thereafter, proceeding westward, it was hoped that a second and a third party, consisting of six and eight men respectively, would be successively established on the continent at considerable distances apart. Of course we were well aware of the difficulties of landing even one party, but, as division of our forces would under normal conditions secure more scientific data, it was deemed advisable to be prepared for exceptionally favourable circumstances.
Macquarie Island, a busy station in the days of the early sealers, had become almost neglected. Little accurate information was to be had regarding it, and no reliable map existed. A few isolated facts had been gathered of its geology, and the anomalous fauna and flora sui generis had been but partially described. Its position, eight hundred and fifty miles south-south-east of Hobart, gave promise of valuable meteorological data relative to the atmospheric circulation of the Southern Hemisphere and of vital interest to the shipping of Australia and New Zealand.
As to the Antarctic sphere of work, it has been seen that very little was known of the vast region which was our goal. It is sufficient to say that almost every observation would be fresh material added to the sum of human knowledge.
In addition to the work to be conducted from the land bases, it was intended that oceanographic investigations should be carried on by the 'Aurora' as far as funds would allow. With this object in view, provision was made for the necessary apparatus which would enable the ship's party to make extensive investigations of the ocean and its floor over the broad belt between Australia and the Antarctic Continent. This was an important branch of study, for science is just as much interested in the greatest depths of the ocean as with the corresponding elevations of the land. Indeed, at the present day, the former is perhaps the greater field.
The scope of our intentions was regarded by some as over-ambitious, but knowing
How far high failure overleaps the bound Of low successes,
and seeing nothing impossible in these arrangements, we continued to adhere to them as closely as possible, with what fortune remains to be told.
To secure a suitable vessel was a matter of fundamental importance. There was no question of having a ship built to our design, for the requisite expenditure might well have exceeded the whole cost of our Expedition. Accordingly the best obtainable vessel was purchased, and modified to fulfil our requirements. Such craft are not to be had in southern waters; they are only to be found engaged in Arctic whaling and sealing.
The primary consideration in the design of a vessel built to navigate amid the ice is that the hull be very staunch, capable of driving into the pack and of resisting lateral pressure, if the ice should close in around it.
So a thick-walled timber vessel, with adequate stiffening in the framework, would meet the case. The construction being of wood imparts a certain elasticity, which is of great advantage in easing the shock of impacts with floating ice. As has been tragically illustrated in a recent disaster, the ordinary steel ship would be ripped on its first contact with the ice. Another device, to obviate the shock and to assist in forging a way through the floe-ice, is to have the bow cut away below the water-line. Thus, instead of presenting to the ice a vertical face, which would immediately arrest the ship and possibly cause considerable damage on account of the sudden stress of the blow, a sloping, overhanging bow is adopted. This arrangement enables the bow to rise over the impediment, with a gradual slackening of speed. The immense weight put upon the ice crushes it and the ship settles down, moving ahead and gathering speed to meet the next obstacle.
Plan and Section of S.Y. 'Aurora'
Of importance second only to a strong hull is the possession of sails in addition to engines. The latter are a sine qua non in polar navigation, whilst sails allow of economy in the consumption of coal, and always remain as a last resort should the coal-supply be exhausted or the propeller damaged.
The 'Aurora', of the Newfoundland sealing fleet, was ultimately purchased and underwent necessary alterations. She was built in Dundee in 1876, but though by no means young was still in good condition and capable of buffeting with the pack for many a year. Also, she was not without a history, for in the earlier days she was amongst those vessels which hurried to the relief of the unfortunate Greely expedition.
The hull was made of stout oak planks, sheathed with greenheart and lined with fir. The bow, fashioned on cutaway lines, was a mass of solid wood, armoured with steel plates. The heavy side-frames were braced and stiffened by two tiers of horizontal oak beams, upon which were built the 'tween decks and the main deck. Three bulkheads isolated the fore-peak, the main hold, the engine-room and the after living-quarters respectively.
A hull of such strength would resist a heavy strain, and, should it be subjected to lateral pressure, would in all probability rise out of harm's way. However, to be quite certain of this and to ensure safety in the most extreme case it is necessary that the hull be modelled after the design adopted by Nansen in the 'Fram'.
The principal dimensions were, length one hundred and sixty-five feet, breadth thirty feet, and depth eighteen feet.
The registered tonnage was three hundred and eighty-six, but the actual carrying capacity we found to be about six hundred tons.
The engines, situated aft, were compound, supplied with steam from a single boiler. The normal power registered was ninety-eight horse-power, working a four-bladed propeller, driving it at the rate of sixty or seventy revolutions per minute (six to ten knots per hour).
Steam was also laid on to a winch, aft, for handling cargo in the main hold, and to a forward steam-windlass. The latter was mainly used for raising the anchor and manipulating the deep-sea dredging-cable.
The ship was square on the foremast and schooner-rigged on the main and mizen masts.
Between the engine-room bulkhead and the chain and sail locker was a spacious hold. Six large steel tanks built into the bottom of the hold served for the storage of fresh water and at any time when empty could be filled with seawater, offering a ready means of securing emergency ballast.
On the deck, just forward of the main hatch, was a deckhouse, comprising cook's galley, steward's pantry and two laboratories. Still farther forward was a small lamp-room for the storage of kerosene, lamps and other necessaries. A lofty fo'c'sle-head gave much accommodation for carpenters', shipwrights' and other stores. Below it, a capacious fo'c'sle served as quarters for a crew of sixteen men.
Aft, the chart-room, captain's cabin and photographic dark-room formed a block leading up to the bridge, situated immediately in front of the funnel. Farther aft, behind the engine-room and below the poop deck, was the ward-room(,) a central space sixteen feet by eight feet, filled by the dining-table and surrounded by cabins with bunks for twenty persons.
From the time the 'Aurora' arrived in London to her departure from Australia, she was a scene of busy activity, as alterations and replacements were necessary to fit her for future work.
In the meantime, stores and gear were being assembled. Purchases were made and valuable donations received both in Europe and Australia. Many and varied were the requirements, and some idea of their great multiplicity will be gained by referring to the appendices dealing with stores, clothing and instruments.
Finally, reference may be made in this chapter to the staff. In no department can a leader spend time more profitably than in the selection of the men who are to accomplish the work. Even when the expedition has a scientific basis, academic distinction becomes secondary in the choice of men. Fiala, as a result of his Arctic experience, truly says, "Many a man who is a jolly good fellow in congenial surroundings will become impatient, selfish and mean when obliged to sacrifice his comfort, curb his desires and work hard in what seems a losing fight. The first consideration in the choice of men for a polar campaign should be the moral quality. Next should come mental and physical powers."
For polar work the great desideratum is tempered youth. Although one man at the age of fifty may be as strong physically as another at the age of twenty, it is certain that the exceptional man of fifty was also an exceptional man at twenty. On the average, after about thirty years of age, the elasticity of the body to rise to the strain of emergency diminishes, and, when forty years is reached, a man, medically speaking, reaches his acme. After that, degeneration of the fabric of the body slowly and maybe imperceptibly sets in. As the difficulties of exploration in cold regions approximate to the limit of human endurance and often enough exceed it, it is obvious that the above generalizations must receive due weight.
But though age and with it the whole question of physical fitness must ever receive primary regard, yet these alone in no wise fit a man for such an undertaking. The qualifications of mental ability, acquaintance with the work and sound moral quality have to be essentially borne in mind. The man of fifty might then be placed on a higher plane than his younger companion.
With regard to alcohol and tobacco, it may be maintained on theoretical grounds that a man is better without them, but, on the other hand, his behaviour in respect to such habits is often an index to his self-control.
Perfection is attained when every man individually works with the determination to sacrifice all personal predispositions to the welfare of the whole.
Ours proved to be a very happy selection. The majority of the men chosen as members of the land parties were young graduates of the Commonwealth and New Zealand Universities, and almost all were representative of Australasia. Among the exceptions was Mr. Frank Wild, who was appointed leader of one of the Antarctic parties. Wild had distinguished himself in the South on two previous occasions, and now is in the unique position of being, as it were, the oldest resident of Antarctica. Our sojourn together at Cape Royds with Shackleton had acquainted me with Wild's high merits as an explorer and leader.
Lieutenant B. E. S. Ninnis of the Royal Fusiliers, Dr. X. Mertz, an expert ski-runner and mountaineer, and Mr. F. H. Bickerton in charge of the air-tractor sledge, were appointed in London. Reference has already been made to Captain Davis: to him were left all arrangements regarding the ship's complement.
A "Who's who" of the staff appears as an appendix.
CHAPTER II THE LAST DAYS AT HOBART AND THE VOYAGE TO MACQUARIE ISLAND
"Let us probe the silent places, let us seek what luck betide us; Let us journey to a lonely land I know. There's a whisper on the night-wind, there's a star agleam to guide us. And the Wild is calling, calling—Let us go."—SERVICE.
It will be convenient to pick up the thread of our story upon the point of the arrival of the 'Aurora' in Hobart, after her long voyage from London during the latter part of the year 1911.
Captain Davis had written from Cape Town stating that he expected to reach Hobart on November 4. In company with Mr. C. C. Eitel, secretary of the Expedition, I proceeded to Hobart, arriving on November 2.
Early in the morning of November 4 the Harbour Board received news that a wooden vessel, barquentine-rigged, with a crow's-nest on the mainmast, was steaming up the D'Entrecasteaux Channel. This left no doubt as to her identity and so, later in the day, we joined Mr. Martelli, the assistant harbour-master, and proceeded down the river, meeting the 'Aurora' below the quarantine ground.
We heard that they had had a very rough passage after leaving the Cape. This was expected, for several liners, travelling by the same route, and arriving in Australian waters a few days before, had reported exceptionally heavy weather.
Before the ship had reached Queen's Wharf, the berth generously provided by the Harbour Board, the Greenland dogs were transferred to the quarantine ground, and with them went Dr. Mertz and Lieutenant Ninnis, who gave up all their time during the stay in Hobart to the care of those important animals. A feeling of relief spread over the whole ship's company as the last dog passed over the side, for travelling with a deck cargo of dogs is not the most enviable thing from a sailor's point of view. Especially is this the case in a sailing-vessel where room is limited, and consequently dogs and ropes are mixed indiscriminately.
Evening was just coming on when we reached the wharf, and, as we ranged alongside, the Premier, Sir Elliot Lewis, came on board and bade us welcome to Tasmania.
Captain Davis had much to tell, for more than four months had elapsed since my departure from London, when he had been left in charge of the ship and of the final arrangements.
At the docks there had been delays and difficulties in the execution of the necessary alterations to the ship, in consequence of strikes and the Coronation festivities. It was so urgent to reach Australia in time for the ensuing Antarctic summer, that the recaulking of the decks and other improvements were postponed, to be executed on the voyage or upon arrival in Australia.
Captain Davis seized the earliest possible opportunity of departure, and the 'Aurora' dropped down the Thames at midnight on July 27, 1911. As she threaded her way through the crowded traffic by the dim light of a thousand flickering flames gleaming through the foggy atmosphere, the dogs entered a protest peculiar to their "husky" kind. After a short preliminary excursion through a considerable range of the scale, they picked up a note apparently suitable to all and settled down to many hours of incessant and monotonous howling, as is the custom of these dogs when the fit takes them. It was quite evident that they were not looking forward to another sea voyage. The pandemonium made it all but impossible to hear the orders given for working the ship, and a collision was narrowly averted. During those rare lulls, when the dogs' repertoire temporarily gave out, innumerable sailors on neighbouring craft, wakened from their sleep, made the most of such opportunities to hurl imprecations in a thoroughly nautical fashion upon the ship, her officers, and each and every one of the crew.
On the way to Cardiff, where a full supply of coal was to be shipped, a gale was encountered, and much water came on board, resulting in damage to the stores. Some water leaked into the living quarters and, on the whole, several very uncomfortable days were spent. Such inconvenience at the outset undoubtedly did good, for many of the crew, evidently not prepared for emergency conditions, left at Cardiff. The scratch crew with which the 'Aurora'journeyed to Hobart composed for the most part of replacements made at Cardiff, resulted in some permanent appointments of unexpected value to the Expedition.
At Cardiff the coal strike caused delay, but eventually some five hundred tons of the Crown Fuel Company's briquettes were got on board, and a final leave taken of English shores on August 4.
Cape Town, the only intermediate port of call, was reached on September 24, after a comparatively rapid and uneventful voyage. A couple of days sufficed to load coal, water and fresh provisions, and the course was then laid for Hobart.
Rough weather soon intervened, and Lieutenant Ninnis and Dr. Mertz, who travelled out by the 'Aurora' in charge of the sledging-dogs, had their time fully occupied, for the wet conditions began to tell on their charges.
On leaving London there were forty-nine of these Greenland, Esquimaux sledging-dogs of which the purchase and selection had been made through the offices of the Danish Geographical Society. From Greenland they were taken to Copenhagen, and from thence transhipped to London, where Messrs. Spratt took charge of them at their dog-farm until the date of departure. During the voyage they were fed on the finest dog-cakes, but they undoubtedly felt the need of fresh meat and fish to withstand the cold and wet. In the rough weather of the latter part of the voyage water broke continually over the deck, so lowering their vitality that a number died from seizures, not properly understood at the time. In each case death was sudden, and preceded by similar symptoms. An apparently healthy dog would drop down in a fit, dying in a few minutes, or during another fit within a few days. Epidemics, accompanied by similar symptoms, are said to be common amongst these dogs in the Arctic regions, but no explanation is given as to the nature of the disease. During a later stage of the Expedition, when nearing Antarctica, several more of the dogs were similarly stricken. These were examined by Drs. McLean and Jones, and the results of post-mortems showed that in one case death was due to gangrenous appendicitis, in two others to acute gastritis and colitis.
The dog first affected caused some consternation amongst the crew, for, after being prostrated on the deck by a fit, it rose and rushed about snapping to right and left. The cry of "mad dog" was raised. Not many seconds had elapsed before all the deck hands were safely in the rigging, displaying more than ordinary agility in the act. At short intervals, other men, roused from watch below appeared at the fo'c'sle companion-way. To these the situation at first appeared comic, and called forth jeers upon their faint-hearted shipmates. The next moment, on the dog dashing into view, they found a common cause with their fellows and sprang aloft. Ere many minutes had elapsed the entire crew were in the rigging, much to the amusement of the officers. By this time the dog had disappeared beneath the fo'c'sle head, and Mertz and Ninnis entered, intending to dispatch it. A shot was fired and word passed that the deed was done: thereupon the crew descended, pressing forward to share in the laurels. Then it was that Ninnis, in the uncertain light, spying a dog of similar markings wedged in between some barrels, was filled with doubt and called out to Mertz that he had shot the wrong dog. In a flash the crew had once more climbed to safety. It was some time after the confirmation of the first execution that they could be prevailed upon to descend.
Several litters of puppies were born on the voyage, but all except one succumbed to the hardships of the passage.
The voyage from Cardiff to Hobart occupied eighty-eight days.
The date of departure south was fixed for 4 P.M. of Saturday, December 2, and a truly appalling amount of work had to be done before then.
Most of the staff had been preparing themselves for special duties; in this the Expedition was assisted by many friends.
A complete, detailed acknowledgment of all the kind help received would occupy much space. We must needs pass on with the assurance that our best thanks are extended to one and all.
Throughout the month of November, the staff continued to arrive in contingents at Hobart, immediately busying themselves in their own departments, and in sorting over the many thousands of packages in the great Queen's Wharf shed. Wild was placed in charge, and all entered heartily into the work. The exertion of it was just what was wanted to make us fit, and prepared for the sudden and arduous work of discharging cargo at the various bases. It also gave the opportunity of personally gauging certain qualities of the men, which are not usually evoked by a university curriculum.
Some five thousand two hundred packages were in the shed, to be sorted over and checked. The requirements of three Antarctic bases, and one at Macquarie Island were being provided for, and consequently the most careful supervision was necessary to prevent mistakes, especially as the omission of a single article might fundamentally affect the work of a whole party. To assist in discriminating the impedimenta, coloured bands were painted round the packages, distinctive of the various bases.
It had been arranged that, wherever possible, everything should be packed in cases of a handy size, to facilitate unloading and transportation; each about fifty to seventy pounds in weight.
In addition to other distinguishing marks, every package bore a different number, and the detailed contents were listed in a schedule for reference.
Concurrently with the progress of this work, the ship was again overhauled, repairs effected, and many deficiencies made good. The labours of the shipwrights did not interfere with the loading, which went ahead steadily during the last fortnight in November.
The tanks in the hold not used for our supply of fresh water were packed with reserve stores for the ship. The remainder of the lower hold and the bunkers were filled with coal. Slowly the contents of the shed diminished as they were transfered to the 'tween decks. Then came the overflow. Eventually, every available space in the ship was flooded with a complicated assemblage of gear, ranging from the comparatively undamageable wireless masts occupying a portion of the deck amidships, to a selection of prime Australian cheeses which filled one of the cabins, and pervaded the ward-room with an odour which remained one of its permanent associations.
Yet, heterogeneous and ill-assorted as our cargo may have appeared to the crowds of curious onlookers, Captain Davis had arranged for the stowage of everything with a nicety which did him credit. The complete effects of the four bases were thus kept separate, and available in whatever order was required. Furthermore, the removal of one unit would not break the stowage of the remainder, nor disturb the trim of the ship.
At a late date the air-tractor sledge arrived. The body was contained in one huge case which, though awkward, was comparatively light, the case weighing much more than the contents. This was securely lashed above the maindeck, resting on the fo'c'sle and two boat-skids.
As erroneous ideas have been circulated regarding the "aeroplane sledge," or more correctly "air-tractor sledge," a few words in explanation will not be out of place.
This machine was originally an R.E.P. monoplane, constructed by Messrs. Vickers and Co., but supplied with a special detachable, sledge-runner undercarriage for use in the Antarctic, converting it into a tractor for hauling sledges. It was intended that so far as its role as a flier was concerned, it would be chiefly exercised for the purpose of drawing public attention to the Expedition in Australia, where aviation was then almost unknown. With this object in view, it arrived in Adelaide at an early date accompanied by the aviator, Lieutenant Watkins, assisted by Bickerton. There it unfortunately came to grief, and Watkins and Wild narrowly escaped death in the accident. It was then decided to make no attempt to fly in the Antarctic; the wings were left in Australia and Lieutenant Watkins returned to England. In the meantime, the machine was repaired and forwarded to Hobart.
Air-tractors are great consumers of petrol of the highest quality. This demand, in addition to the requirements of two wireless plants and a motor-launch, made it necessary to take larger quantities than we liked of this dangerous cargo. Four thousand gallons of "Shell" benzine and one thousand three hundred gallons of "Shell" kerosene, packed in the usual four-gallon export tins, were carried as a deck cargo, monopolizing the whole of the poop-deck.
For the transport of the requirements of the Macquarie Island Base, the s.s. 'Toroa', a small steam-packet of one hundred and twenty tons, trading between Melbourne and Tasmanian ports, was chartered. It was arranged that this auxiliary should leave Hobart several days after the 'Aurora', so as to allow us time, before her arrival, to inspect the island, and to select a suitable spot for the location of the base. As she was well provided with passenger accommodation, it was arranged that the majority of the land party should journey by her as far as Macquarie Island.
The Governor of Tasmania, Sir Harry Barron, the Premier, Sir Elliot Lewis, and the citizens of Hobart extended to us the greatest hospitality during our stay, and, when the time came, gave us a hearty send-off.
Saturday, December 2 arrived, and final preparations were made. All the staff were united for the space of an hour at luncheon. Then began the final leave-taking. "God speed" messages were received from far and wide, and intercessory services were held in the Cathedrals of Sydney and Hobart.
We were greatly honoured at this time by the reception of kind wishes from Queen Alexandra and, at an earlier date, from his Majesty the King.
Proud of such universal sympathy and interest, we felt stimulated to greater exertions.
On arrival on board, I found Mr. Martelli, who was to pilot us down the river, already on the bridge. A vast crowd blockaded the wharf to give us a parting cheer.
At 4 P.M. sharp, the telegraph was rung for the engines, and, with a final expression of good wishes from the Governor and Lady Barron, we glided out into the channel, where our supply of dynamite and cartridges was taken on board. Captain G. S. Nares, whose kindness we had previously known, had the H.M.S. 'Fantome' dressed in our honour, and lusty cheering reached us from across the water.
As we proceeded down the river to the Quarantine Station where the dogs were to be taken off, Hobart looked its best, with the glancing sails of pleasure craft skimming near the foreshores, and backed by the stately, sombre mass of Mount Wellington. The "land of strawberries and cream", as the younger members of the Expedition had come to regard it, was for ever to live pleasantly in our memories, to be recalled a thousand times during the adventurous months which followed. Mr. E. Joyce, whose name is familiar in connexion with previous Antarctic expeditions, and who had travelled out from London on business of the Expedition, was waiting in mid-stream with thirty-eight dogs, delivering them from a ketch. These were passed over the side and secured at intervals on top of the deck cargo.
The engines again began to throb, not to cease until the arrival at Macquarie Island. A few miles lower down the channel, the Premier, and a number of other friends and well-wishers who had followed in a small steamer, bade us a final adieu.
Behind lay a sparkling seascape and the Tasmanian littoral; before, the blue southern ocean heaving with an ominous swell. A glance at the barograph showed a continuous fall, and a telegram from Mr. Hunt, Head of the Commonwealth Weather Bureau, received a few hours previously, informed us of a storm-centre south of New Zealand, and the expectation of fresh south-westerly winds.
The piles of loose gear presented an indescribable scene of chaos, and, even as we rolled lazily in the increasing swell, the water commenced to run about the decks. There was no time to be lost in securing movable articles and preparing the ship for heavy weather. All hands set to work.
On the main deck the cargo was brought up flush with the top of the bulwarks, and consisted of the wireless masts, two huts, a large motor-launch, cases of dog biscuits and many other sundries. Butter to the extent of a couple of tons was accommodated chiefly on the roof of the main deck-house, where it was out of the way of the dogs. The roof of the chart-house, which formed an extension of the bridge proper, did not escape, for the railing offered facilities for lashing sledges; besides, there was room for tide-gauges, meteorological screens, and cases of fresh eggs and apples. Somebody happened to think of space unoccupied in the meteorological screens, and a few fowls were housed therein.
On the poop-deck there were the benzine, sledges, and the chief magnetic observatory. An agglomeration of instruments and private gear rendered the ward-room well nigh impossible of access, and it was some days before everything was jammed away into corners. An unoccupied five-berth cabin was filled with loose instruments, while other packages were stowed into the occupied cabins, so as to almost defeat the purpose for which they were intended.
The deck was so encumbered that only at rare intervals was it visible. However, by our united efforts everything was well secured by 8 P.M.
It was dusk, and the distant highlands were limned in silhouette against the twilight sky. A tiny, sparkling lamp glimmered from Signal Hill its warm farewell. From the swaying poop we flashed back, "Good-bye, all snug on board."
Onward with a dogged plunge our laden ship would press. If 'Fram' were "Forward," she was to be hereafter our 'Aurora' of "Hope"—the Dawn of undiscovered lands.
Home and the past were effaced in the shroud of darkness, and thought leapt to the beckoning South—the "land of the midnight sun."
During the night the wind and sea rose steadily, developing into a full gale. In order to make Macquarie Island, it was important not to allow the ship to drive too far to the east, as at all times the prevailing winds in this region are from the west. Partly on this account, and partly because of the extreme severity of the gale, the ship was hove to with head to wind, wallowing in mountainous seas. Such a storm, witnessed from a large vessel, would be an inspiring sight, but was doubly so in a small craft, especially where the natural buoyancy had been largely impaired by overloading. With an unprecedented quantity of deck cargo, amongst which were six thousand gallons of benzine, kerosene and spirit, in tins which were none too strong, we might well have been excused a lively anxiety during those days. It seemed as if no power on earth could save the loss of at least part of the deck cargo. Would it be the indispensable huts amidships, or would a sea break on the benzine aft and flood us with inflammable liquid and gas?
By dint of strenuous efforts and good seamanship, Captain Davis with his officers and crew held their own. The land parties assisted in the general work, constantly tightening up the lashings and lending "beef," a sailor's term for man-power, wherever required. For this purpose the members of the land parties were divided into watches, so that there were always a number patrolling the decks.
Most of us passed through a stage of sea-sickness, but, except in the case of two or three, it soon passed off. Seas deluged all parts of the ship. A quantity of ashes was carried down into the bilge-water pump and obstructed the steam-pump. Whilst this was being cleared, the emergency deck pumps had to be requisitioned. The latter were available for working either by hand-power or by chain-gearing from the after-winch.
The deck-plug of one of the fresh-water tanks was carried away and, before it was noticed, sea-water had entered to such an extent as to render our supply unfit for drinking. Thus we were, henceforth, on a strictly limited water ration.
The wind increased from bad to worse, and great seas continued to rise until their culmination on the morning of December 5, when one came aboard on the starboard quarter, smashed half the bridge and carried it away. Toucher was the officer on watch, and no doubt thought himself lucky in being, at the time, on the other half of the bridge.
The deck-rings holding the motor-launch drew, the launch itself was sprung and its decking stove-in.
On the morning of December 8 we found ourselves in latitude 49 degrees 56 minutes S. and longitude 152 degrees 28' E., with the weather so far abated that we were able to steer a course for Macquarie Island.
During the heavy weather, food had been prepared only with the greatest difficulty. The galley was deluged time and again. It was enough to dishearten any cook, repeatedly finding himself amongst kitchen debris of all kinds, including pots and pans full and empty. Nor did the difficulties end in the galley, for food which survived until its arrival on the table, though not allowed much time for further mishap, often ended in a disagreeable mass on the floor or, tossed by a lurch of more than usual suddenness, entered an adjoining cabin. From such localities the elusive piece de resistance was often rescued.
As we approached our rendezvous, whale-birds** appeared. During the heavy weather, Mother Carey's chickens only were seen, but, as the wind abated, the majestic wandering albatross, the sooty albatross and the mollymawk followed in our wake.
** For the specific names refer to Appendix which is a glossary of special and unfamiliar terms.
Whales were observed spouting, but at too great a distance to be definitely recognized.
At daybreak on December 11 land began to show up, and by 6 A.M. we were some sixteen miles off the west coast of Macquarie Island, bearing on about the centre of its length.
In general shape it is long and narrow, the length over all being twenty-one miles. A reef runs out for several miles at both extremities of the main island, reappearing again some miles beyond in isolated rocky islets: the Bishop and Clerk nineteen miles to the southward and the Judge and Clerk eight miles to the north.