The Project Gutenberg
EBook of The Home of the Blizzard, by Sir Douglas Mawson
Copyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check
the copyright laws for your country before downloading or redistributing
this or any other Project Gutenberg eBook.
This header should
be the first thing seen when viewing this Project Gutenberg file.
Please do not remove it. Do not change or edit the header without
Please read the "legal small print,"
and other information about the eBook and Project Gutenberg at the
bottom of this file. Included is important information about your
specific rights and restrictions in how the file may be used. You
can also find out about how to make a donation to Project Gutenberg,
and how to get involved.
**Welcome To The World of Free Plain
Vanilla Electronic Texts**
**eBooks Readable By Both Humans
and By Computers, Since 1971**
*****These eBooks Were Prepared
By Thousands of Volunteers!*****
Title: The Home of the Blizzard
Author: Sir Douglas Mawson
Release Date: July, 2004 [EBook
[Yes, we are more than one year ahead of schedule]
[This file was first posted on November 18, 2002]
Character set encoding: ASCII
*** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK, THE HOME OF THE BLIZZARD
Further editing for presentation
on Cool Antarctica by Paul Ward webmaster at Cool Antarctica - 2005.
Presentation of pictures changed, but no text editing other than
splitting into chapters
CHAPTER I THE PROBLEM AND
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
CHAPTER VI AUTUMN
VII THE BLIZZARD
VIII DOMESTIC LIFE
CHAPTER IX MIDWINTER AND
X THE PREPARATION OF SLEDGING EQUIPMENT 176
CHAPTER XI SPRING EXPLOITS
CHAPTER XII ACROSS KING
GEORGE V LAND
XIII TOIL AND TRIBULATION
CHAPTER XIV THE QUEST OF
THE SOUTH MAGNETIC POLE
CHAPTER XV EASTWARD OVER
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
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
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
APPENDIX I THE STAFF
- This section is not included directly here,
instead an extended account of the men involved may be found
APPENDIX II SCIENTIFIC
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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''
...from the wilderness, the vast and Godlike spaces,
The stark and sullen solitudes that sentinel the Pole.
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
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).
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS- COLOUR
Unfortunately not available
in this web-published version
TEXT ILLUSTRATIONS - (appropriately placed in
Antarctic discoveries preceding the year
Plan and section of the S.Y. `Aurora''
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
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,
Section through a Nansen sledging cooker mounted on the
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''
the Auckland Islands
The ``Contents'' page of the first
number of the ``Adelie Blizzard''
chart for April 12, 1913, compiled by the Commonwealth Meteorological
A diagrammatic sketch illustrating the meteorological
conditions at the main base, noon, September 6, 1913
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
Slgnatures of members of the land
A section of the Antarctic plateau from the coast to
a point 300 miles inland, along the route followed by the southern
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
of the floor of the Southern Ocean between Western Australia and
Queen Mary Land
A map showing Antarctic land discoveries preceding
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
V Land, showing tracks of the eastern sledging parties from the
Queen Mary Land, showing tracks of the sledging party
from the main base
I THE PROBLEM AND PREPARATIONS