Collecting Seaweeds on Macquarie Island with A.N.A.R.E., December 1960

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By Ann Savours (Mrs A.M. Shirley, Hon. D. Litt)

I am not a scientist, but between 29 November and 16 December 1960 I took part in the relief expedition to Macquarie Island in the ice-strengthened vessel, Magga Dan. She had been chartered from her Danish owners, Lauritzen, by the Director of the Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions (ANARE), Dr P.G. (Phil) Law, AC, CBE. She was to transport scientists and other personnel to the south from Melbourne during the austral summer, in order to relieve the wintering parties of the Australian scientific stations on the Antarctic Continent, as well as on Macquarie Island, the first relief voyage.

Lying in the Southern Ocean, one thousand miles south of Hobart, between Australia and Antarctica, Macquarie is a small narrow green island. It was discovered in 1810 and named after an early Governor of New South Wales. Sealers then exploited its shores, killing Fur Seals for their pelts and the far larger Elephant Seals for their oil. Its history, written with scholarly care by Dr J.S. Cumpston, was published by the Australian Antarctic Division in 1968. A Dependence of Tasmania, after decades of the cruel massacre of seals and latterly penguins, the island was declared a bird and animal sanctuary in 1933, largely through the efforts of that great Australian explorer and scientist of Antarctica’s “Heroic age”, Sir Douglas Mawson. In 1948, A.N.A.R.E. established a meteorological and scientific station on Macquarie Island, whose results have appeared in the ANARE series of reports.

It so happened that in November 1960 I was visiting ANARE headquarters, then in Melbourne, during a sabbatical year of absence from Cambridge, where I was Assistant Librarian at the Scott Polar Research Institute. My duties included those of Curator of Manuscripts, Maps, Charts and Pictures. The Librarian, H.G.R. (Harry) King and I also, contributed entries, with two other staff who specialised in Russian and Scandinavian languages, to the Bibliography of Recent Polar Literature, published with every issue of the Institute’s journal, Polar Record. Financed by the British Federation of University Women, with a travel grant from the British Council, I departed from England in the P. & O. liner Arcadia in March 1960, for a year to be spent compiling a catalogue of manuscripts of polar interest in Australia and New Zealand.

Provided with a pleasant room in University House, Canberra, and designated an Honorary Research Fellow by the ANU (Australian National University), I spent an interesting and enlivening twelve months in libraries and repositories further afield. These included the Mitchell Library, Sydney and the Alexander Turnbull Library, New Zealand. Many enjoyable weeks researching in the State Archives of Tasmania resulted in a contribution (on return to Cambridge) of a paper in Annals of Science, Vol. 39, 1982, p. 527 – 66, followed by another published by Durham University Geography Department in 1997 detailing the history of the Rossbank Magnetic Observatory. This was set up in 1840 by Captain James Clark Ross, R.N. and Sir John Franklin, then Lieutenant Governor of Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania). The observatory was built in the grounds of Government House, Hobart and staffed by two naval officers detached from the celebrated exploring and scientific voyage of H.M. Ships Erebusand Terror, commanded by Ross from 1839 – 43, which circumnavigated the Antarctic regions. That paper, written with the late Dr Anita McConnell of the Science Museum, London, was a contribution to the history of Antarctic science.

But to return to Melbourne and ANARE headquarters: the following extract from my year-long Antipodean diary relates to my experiences during the relief voyage. I much appreciated the invitation by Dr Law to act as field assistant to Miss Elise Wollaston of the University of Adelaide in collecting sea weeds from the coast of Macquarie Island in plastic bags and in measuring stranded lengths of kelp torn from the sea by the waves and deposited on the shore. We lived aboard the Magga Dan and travelled daily to the shore by DUKW (amphibious small craft). One of my most vivid memories is of the return in the dusk across the phosphorescent sea, watched by silvery seals, heads above the waves.

Together with Isobel Bennett, a marine biologist from Sydney University, and Hope MacPherson, Curator of Molluscs at the National Museum of Victoria, Elise and I formed a group of four women expedition members. Mrs Nel Law, a talented artist, travelled with her husband. She subsequently made a voyage to the Antarctic continent, resulting in some fine works of art, some of which, if my memory is correct, later hung on the walls of their home.

My diary begins at ANARE headquarters in Melbourne where Mrs Ida McMahon was the Librarian.

Collecting seaweeds on Macquarie Island with A.N.A.R.E

Monday 28 November

Woke early and meant to get to St Paul’s Cathedral in time for mattins at 8.15 but got there at 8.30, too late. There were still a few people there and I said the odd prayer for the expedition and all at home and thanks for many blessings received this year. Took 2 photos of the crowds coming out of Flinders Street station and the trams. Found a good birthday card for ProfessorGriff Taylor – a design with a polar bear skin on it and collector’s items. Quite pleasant in the early morning sun.

Welcomed at ANARE by various people and made at home in the library by Ida McMahon. Lots of bods milling in and out all day – the MOs and Officers in Charge and scientists of Mawson, Wilkes and Davis stations, plus our Macquarie Is party. Isobel Bennett came in with Hope MacPherson who works at the Victoria Museum and is a pleasant person of about 35. Alan Campbell-Drury played me the tapes of the various polar veterans he’d collected for the dinner tomorrow [Terra Nova day]. They were very good. Dr Stilwell, A. Keith Jack, R.W. Richards, and lastly C.H. Hare of the 1901 – 04 Scott expedition from a tropical fruit farm in Queensland, who was terrific. He told of how he slept for a whole night in the snow when lost near the Discovery.

Read Cumpston’s history and wrote a note to H.K. (Harry King). Had a card of bon voyage from the Lilleys in Tasmania and a letter from the ed. of the Geogr.Journal saying the committee had accepted my Betsey and Sophiams Jolly D [later published in the Geographical Journal, Vol. 127, 1961, p. 317 – 21. This sealer was wrecked on Iles Kerguelen in 1831. A remarkable rescue voyage followed. The result of research in the Tasmanian State Library]. Saw Phil Law very briefly who shook hands and welcomed me back. Brian Roberts had left a note, which was nice of him. Ida said how much she liked him. He hopes to return from the Ross Sea via S. America and thence back to England and then to Canberra for the Antarctic Treaty conference. What globe trotting!

Treated myself to a last good meal at Le Jardin, a little downstairs restaurant at the ‘Paris end’ of Collins Street. This was very nice, but I’m hungry again now. Oh for my little room at University House! Wrote home.

Two reporters from the Herald rang up – one about the Terra Nova dinner and the other about my work here and the visit to Macquarie Is. Must get my stuff to cabin 8 in the Magga Dan tomorrow.

29 November ‘Terra Nova’ Day

Down to breakfast at eight and to ANARE by nine. Ida said she’d come with me to the Magga and got a govt. car, which was jolly nice. We drove down to the river and there was the Magga, bright red as I’ve seen her in many coloured slides. We took my stuff aboard and I was stopped by a reporter who poised me with my rucsac just staggering down the steps.

It is now ten o’clock p.m. and I am in my bunk. We have just come through the heads of Port Phillip and she is beginning to roll. Our bunks are across the ship so that one’s head and feet see-saw. We spent some time on the ship this morning and were given a soda water in the saloon where we met Captain Petersen a smiling young Dane. (We are certainly rolling now). Frank Smith kindly took my gear up to our cabin, which is a large one with 4 bunks, a small wardrobe each, drawers, washbasin with h & c and all the wood is varnished. There are dark pink curtains to each bunk – air conditioning too, so that, touch wood, it’s not stuffy. In the saloon are photographs of old Lauritzen and Lady Fuchs. We had supper down there – two long tables loaded with cold meats, salad, rye bread, cheese, sardines, etc. – a real Danish spread. Phil Law gave the toast of “Scott and his companions” since it’s the 50th anniversary of the Terra Nova’s departure from Lyttelton. We had to drink this in cordial since it’s too early for the beer and wine to be broached.

At noon we were briefed – about 25 people altogether – about a dozen to stay down at Macquarie Is. for the year – and the other supernumeraries and relief expedition members. Phil Law spoke to us briefly about meals, fire precautions aboard ship, drink – beer and wine only – sea sickness, etc. Breakfast is on the dot of eight. I took Ida out to a good lunch at Le Jardin and then bought a green embroidered Swiss blouse to go with my green Scots skirt in case there are any parties, as I haven’t anything of the sort. Then back to ANARE and down to the ship where there were lots of people milling round and various press men and women caught us. The rather nice woman from the Age was there and she took down a lot and took a photo of me on deck standing behind a Magga Dan life belt, camera in hand. I had to look into the sun so no doubt I was frowning. Channel 2 TV filmed Hope and me and other people nabbed us too. Ida came to fetch me to answer a question about Scott’s age in Phil Law’s cabin, which is next door to ours. Don Styles and Mrs S, Mrs Law, Alan Campbell-Drury, Eileen and a few others were there having a beer and we chatted. Mrs Law is coming too – supposed to be a state secret but it seems to have leaked out. Hope the Press didn’t get it.

Our fourth member turned up this morning from Adelaide – Elise Wollaston, an algae expert. She is small with straight fairish hair and about 35. Phil Law congratulated us on stowing away all our stuff. We wrote letters for the pilot to take away from Port Phillip heads – I to Dr Grenfell Price [Sir Archie Grenfell Price of Adelaide who was editing “The Winning of Australian Antarctica, 1962], Ruth and Joe and Ida McMahon. I can also send cables later on from Macquarie Is. at 4d [four pence]a word – they have a code sheet and I have also code words for Mum and Dad, Prof Debenham, Hugh Doyle, Geoff Moseley and SPRI. Have addressed ANARE Xmas cards to various other people in Australia to post there. Have the curse, but better now than later.

30 November 1960

Slept fitfully during the night.Woke finally at seven as the others were making getting up sounds.Didn’t feel too bad and staggered down to breakfast only to find it full. Phil Law kindly came up and told me his seat was empty so I sat between the Captain and Mrs Law. Nibbled at a piece of toasted roll and had a cup of tea. Dozed all morning as we were rolling across the last of Bass Strait and read ‘Australian explorers’.Up for lunch – second sitting again.Downed soup and cold beef and coffee, sitting next to Colin Bryant, the young Lieut in charge of the army DUKS. He said spuds couldn’t do any harm. Found a sunny corner by the bridge in the afternoon and donned Dick’s windproofs, finding them too hot later on. Mrs Law came up and we looked at the Flinders Is. group through binoculars. They looked very bare, but a fine jagged line on the horizon. Dr Calaby[CSIRO Wildlife biologist] told me there are about 1,000 people on Flinders Island itself – he has been studying birds on Cape Barren Island. It would have been interesting to do the trip in the Naracoupa through the islands from Hobart. Got talking to Peter Burke, a nice young man in the DUK party. He took me down to the for’ard deck to look at the DUKs. He said he’d see me at tea and came over to sit next to me to keep my mind off feeling queer. He’s a Queenslander. After dinner we had a film ‘The bridal path’ set in the Western Highlands and islands of Scotland. It was lovely. Sultana cake and tea afterwards. Sat at the top end of the Captain and Mrs Law’s table, next to Mrs Law and talked with them about BBR’s [Dr Brian Roberts’]visit and the Danish language, John Morley, John Heap, Greenland, etc. The Captain has a lovely kind, sort of smile and is a bit radiant like our Joe [Robotham, my brother-in-law]. Hope and Isobel keep saying how different the atmosphere is compared with last year – new Captain and new party of course. They don’t think much of last year’s party and Ida McMahon felt the same on looking down the list to see if there were any ‘eligibles’ for me. Have just been up on deck to look at the stars and moon and sea – a fine evening. The girls were tickled at my wearing my ‘contemporary’ stripy trousers and sandals with Hughie’s [Hugh Doyle] large smelly and ancient jacket – so tickled that they took flashlight photographs. Now all getting into pyjamas for bed.

1 December 1960

Writing in my bunk as we steam SSW towards Macquarie Island. Have just been up on the wings of the bridge to watch a small display of aurora – beams and occasional light veils – on a glorious moonlight night. There is a distinct swell, but little wind. It has been much rougher today – chairs and plates started sliding about at one point – but really nothing to speak of. Touch wood I’ve felt OK much to my surprise and I have eaten well. Hope has been sea sick all day and Mrs Law has brought her cups of tea in. Elise and I rushed up on deck straight after breakfast and sat in yesterday’s sheltered spot at the approach to the bridge. Peter Burke came and talked to me again – one of his sisters is a nun – and we read Cumpston’s history together. He is a sergeant and has been in the Army for 12 years. Elise and I did some gymnastics and dancing steps but it’s difficult on a rolling ship in a confined space. Blue skies and sun most of the day, but a slight squall and clouds in late afternoon. There are four albatrosses which drift effortlessly across the waves, which are a joy to watch.

2 December 1960

Greyish day. Scampered round the ship with Elise and spent some minutes walking round the foredeck for exercise. The sea still grey and a bit oily, with long swells running crosswise. Read Cumpston with difficulty and about Sturt’s stony desert in my explorers book. At two we had a film show of last year’s cruise to Wilkes & Davis, which was interesting, except that I felt so sleepy. This was followed by a whodunnit, which woke me up a bit. After dinner we had a party – with lots of beer – and a sing-song till after midnight. The Army boys knew all the old songs and Phil Law played the accordion very well. The Captain took over towards the end and also played well. I called on Frank Smith to buy Christmas cards, and was asked in for a glass of sherry. Bought lots of Antarctic stamps to put on my Christmas card envelopes. Some are beauties.

3 December 1960

Up in a hurry as we all slept late after the party. Another rather grey day but quite mild enough to do our walking the deck in a light sweater and jeans and to sit up near the bridge and drowse over Cumpston. We had a film show of the ‘Third Man on the Mountain’ a film about climbers set in Switzerland at Zermtt, featuring the ‘Citadel’ (the Matterhorn). After that we had a briefing from Phil Law about tomorrow. We should reach the island about seven tomorrow morning. We were given instructions about getting into the DUKs from the ship. We will be among the first to go ashore, with the first DUK, which will leave shortly after breakfast. We’ll be woken early for breakfast at 6.30, and then at six for the rest of the six days. It will be hard work for there are lots of things to do, including a new hut to be built. I am Elise Wollaston’s assistant so we shall be working mainly along the shore. This business of jumping from DUK to ship and vice versa down a rope ladder sounds frightening but we’ll just hope the swell doesn’t increase. At present it’s north westerly.

We were invited, with the Captain and Mate, John Calaby, Dr Gresset [entomologist], to sherry with the Laws in their cabin next door to ours. Hope and Phil Law took flash photographs and we talked a bit about Macquarie. No one talks very much however, nor gets enthusiastic – the usual polar atmosphere. One or two people have been round taking photographs today of the four of us, including David Dodd, a young New Zealander, who is a keen meteorologist who’d been working on Mt Kosciusko snow survey last year. One of the officers noticed my flag blouse and they were all three quite amused by it.

Phil Law told us the meaning of various signals: series of long flashes from ship means they want to speak to him; short ones to be in contact with the base radio operator; a long blast on the funnel means they want radio contact too. A green light fired from a DUK means that assistance is needed; a red one that immediate assistance is required. It seems now that we may make HurdPt early in the morning, which will be a great joy to the biologists. We’ve just been down to the ‘tween decks hold to fetch up gear, and the biologists are busy sorting gear and talking about films for cameras, specimens, dredges, etc. I am glad to be going with Elise as she’s so nice and both lively and quiet. I hope my boots will be OK.

I forget now whether I said that I had a letter from Mrs Middleton [Assistant Editor of the Geographical Journal] of the G.J. saying that the committee will be very pleased to publish my article on the Betsey & Sophia in June 1961. I was reminded of this by thinking that I wrote a letter to George Naish [Keeper, National Maritime Museum], from M.V. Magga Dan towards Macquarie Island.

4 December 1960

An exciting day.Woken at five to hear that we were off Macquarie Island. Jumped out and had a quick shower and then on with long johns, Mrs Deb’s [Debenham’s]thick bell bottoms and a couple of sweaters and Hugh’s old jacket, ‘sandshoes’, my Spitsbergen gloves and David Taylor’s grey scarf. We could make the island out through the porthole – half hidden in mist and quite yellowy-green. Went up a deck where a number of people were watching us come in, all clad in dark blue overalls, balaclavas, thick gloves and scarfs – quite different from the rest of the trip – quite difficult to recognise everyone. Went up on the wings of the bridge and found Phil Law looking out towards Buckles Bay, where we dropped anchor. The Captain came out now and again and watched for the men on shore to come over in the dinghy to collect their mail. We could see the several huts on the low neck of land joining North Head and the main land. Beyond North Head were rocks and reefs, black surrounded by calm grey water.

The men came very slowly out from the rocks by the shore, rowing because they couldn’t get the outboard motor to start. Eventually the ship’s red launch put out and transferred a crate and the mail to the dinghy, which returned to the shore with one man – tall with a thick black beard – and brought the other – also tall, but clean shaven – aboard. We went down to breakfast at six – I still had my usual light one, but was tempted by steak and egg. Up on deck again as we moved down the coast to the south, towards Hurd Point, where supplies were to be landed at the now vacant auroral huts, which are used as a weekend cottage on trips from the main base on the spit. The island is long and dull green and covered in low cloud. It looked a bit like an island off the north coast of Norway, but not so sharp and forbidding – remembering the hard, cold and really desolate coast I saw coming south from Hammerfest. Perhaps it is more like Orkney and Shetland – treeless, yet still green.

It didn’t seem long before we drew near to the south end of Macquarie Island, where a procession of jagged rocks marked Hurd Point. We moved slowly round the reef and approached nearer to the shore. Even on a calm day one could appreciate what a horrid place it is for a ship, especially for a sailing ship caught on a lee shore. Hope and Isobel were almost hopping about with anxiety to know whether they’d be allowed on shore or not, since last year they had to watch from the ship for almost a whole day while the DUKs were unloaded. We were told that they would be allowed ashore if the launch came back after finding landing conditions OK. The launch set off with Phil Law and one or two others, towing the dinghy, which held the stores. It was quite interesting to watch the manoeuvring of the small boats and the lowering of the crates from the Magga. I didn’t know if I would be taken ashore, even if the others were, but word came through via Frank Smith, that we could all go. So down we went to pick up packs and cameras and oilies and then onto the lower deck to put on bright red life jackets.

The launch phutphutted alongside, Frank Smith tied on my jacket properly, and it was a case of up onto the gunwhale and then down the rope ladder – quite a substantial affair and into the launch. The ladder came away from the side of the ship, the launch seemed to slip away and somehow I was down in the boat, my knees knocking, but safe enough. The others followed and then we were off, towing a couple of yellow oil drums behind us. We drew away from the red rocking Magga over the grey swelling sea. The rocks were even more fearsome inshore, and worse still were the ones hidden by the waves but covered with kelp – the wicked maiden with flowing locks of the Polynesian legend – which swirled as the seas rose and fell. We went between the reefs and into the beach. From the boat we could make out the penguin rookeries and fat lolling seals. About 50 yards from the shore we transferred to the dinghy and were rowed inshore by Mike Taylor and a Danish sailor. I was forward and the first to jump ashore as we grounded on the coarse grey sand, just getting my feet wet. I expected a great roar of surf, but it wasn’t frightening like the surf beaches of Sydney. Mike yelled to me to catch the packs, which he threw to me one by one, and which I put down a little way from the sea. The others all jumped out and then men beached the boat sideways on the sand. Phil Law greeted us and took our photograph.

We scarcely had time to examine the grey golden seals lying on the shore and the rookery of Royal and King penguins to the left, before we were given half an hour to collect our specimens and were off to the right, avoiding sleeping or roaming sea elephants (Miroungaleonina) – all young males, moulting, or else young pups. It was quite strange to go in straight for the sea weeds, hardly glancing at the animals, except as objects to be walked round. Hope and Isabel were off to the rocks, Isobel perched on one in the middle of low swirling water. I followed Elise and wondered what to collect, thinking that it would have been done before. She gave me a plastic bag in which to put any sort of sea weed. We slipped and scrambled along the sea shore over the rocks, in one small area, pulling off bits of all sorts of weed, but keeping an eye on the sea water coming in as surf over the tall square sentinel rocks some ten yards out to sea, and then subsiding at or round our feet. I picked some kelp and other smaller weeds and dropped them into my bag. I was surprised to see a seal’s head and gaping mouth just round the corner of a rock. We returned through the seals, which only looked at us with large round dark eyes, and moved and roared. There was just time to look at the 2 or 3 square huts on a hillock by the beach and to take a photograph of the penguins, before we had to don life jackets again and hop into the dinghy. We bunched together at the beach end so as to keep the bows free and floating. We had a bit of difficulty getting off – Fred Stean (OIC this year) and the Norwegian sailor pulling hard over the swell and passing within a few feet of an ugly upstanding rock. However we made it, transferred to the launch, waited for the dinghy to return with the Scouts and Phil Law, and then back to the ship, up the ladder and safe on board.

It’s now 10 p.m. – a long day. The others went off again to collect at Green Gorge, with John Calaby and Dr Gresset. This looks quite a gently sloping place from off shore, and is quite light green. I went up forward to watch and David Dodd, NZ meteorologist,[?] young English meteorologist now living in Tasmania, and Tony [?], West Australian lakes ecologist joined me and we talked about walking and climbing and snakes and animals in various places. There was quite a cold wind, but we sheltered behind the gunwhale and talked away. The others returned after three and Mrs Law brought us in some tea, which was very kind of her. She is a nice lovely person, feminine enough to be interested in things and not afraid of asking and remarking in a somewhat masculine atmosphere. She has come to do some painting.

We moved on to Buckles Bay and anchored there. It was interesting to watch the DUKWs being unshipped. They weigh 7 tons and are managed by the army lieutenants and their party, including my chum Peter Burke. They banged against the ship a couple of times even in this calm weather, so one could imagine the possible harm on a rough day. They can be driven straight from sea on land.

Mike Taylor the large good humoured man who’s been in charge for the past year, came in for a drink, with John Calaby and [blank]. I forgot to say that I collected a couple of insects at HurdPt – two flightless insects and one with wings – which I gave to Gresset and Calaby, who were most interested. I’m surprised that they are so keen on chance specimens. I guess one is so used in Europe to having even places like Svalbard well worked over. They put the flies in specimen bottles. Elise spent the evening after a gorgeous dinner of roast duck, in sorting and pickling our specimens and in writing labels. The other two went off on top of lots of packing cases in a DUKW towards the mist covered shore to visit the station. They carried a couple of crates of beer up to the hut and this had a great welcome. Elise decided to stay at home, so I decided to stay too since the others knew all the men already from last year, and I had no special reason to go too. I wrote my diary in between chatting to Elise and to odd bods who drifted in. I was rather surprised the way the people talk about Phil Law, who really does his best and is very helpful. He becomes the symbol of authority, I guess, which is automatically disliked by Australians, or so one gathers. The officers and NCOs of the DUKWs fraternise tremendously – another difference to me. There’s no difference in accent of course, as there would be in England.

We three- Elise, Hope and I – talked to the Captain for some time after supper last night – mainly about common polar friends and about Greenland and Spitsbergen. He has a wife and girl of 8 and spoke of their time at Nugssuaq in Greenland .Lauritzen officers can have their wives with them for 3 months of the year, but this becomes difficult when a family arrives. He is a fine man our captain.

5 December

It’s 10.30 and I have to be up at 5.30 again but must write up today. Have just finished supper on the ship after an exciting ride from shore to ship on the last DUKW home. We were called early and were ready after breakfast to get the first DUKW ashore. Colin Bryant was our driver, and Peter Bourke second in command. We watched them load up the crates and boards into the DUKW from the crane, sometimes boxes slipped. It was still quite calm and there was a low cloud over the island. Got aboard safely – les girls and the other biologists and scouts. Colin caught me and said I should learn to let go of the ladder. We drove over the long waves and then through the surf and up on to the shore and along a well-worn highway. We dropped life jackets in a pile by the shore and drove past all the neat huts towards the main hut and biologists’ hut. Here we met John Warham [biologist, four of whose articles are listed in P.M Selkirk and others, 1990] – slight chap with fair beard and Midland English accent, changed into boots and dropped bits of gear and were ready to go off collecting. This was done at Garden Cove just round the corner – a rocky shore, with lots of high conglomerate rocks. On our way we saw a large sow, a few chicks and hens, some large brown skuas, and lots of fat lazy lolling sea elephant pups and young animals on the shore or on the sand. We were amused by the way they looked at us with round liquid eyes, opened pink mouths and coughed or roared. Most of them were about 4 feet long, but some were about ten feet, mostly in process of moulting and therefore rather moth-eaten. There were several Gentoo penguins around – I am muddled now with all the different sorts.

Through a gap in the rocks we could see the Magga, stil rolling, and the unloading going on. We four and one of the scouts as a carrier, collected sea weeds and animals from various inter and tidal zones. I collected weed from the rock pools which are never empty of sea water, then from the uncovered rocks and then from the pools which are much higher up and one mainly fresh water. Several sorts of different algae – all put in plastic bags, according to location. Hope and Isobel were busy with a particular pool under the rocks quite far out. They showed it to me and there were some lovely pink corally creatures and strange fossil like animals. The kelp is fantastic and gets swirled by the tide in long brown strands and bundles. Phil Law came along and took movie shots of us collecting.

We looked at the little rookery of rock hopper penguins on the sand slopes near the shore, which someone must be studying as there was a notice saying please don’t disturb the penguins. There was a little hut up there too – perhaps for the observer. It was perched on a lump of rock on the tussocks and wired to the ground. I wouldn’t like to be in it in a gale.

We lunched in the main living hut and talked to the boys. They seem a nice crowd and with high morale. The leader, Mike Taylor, is a big, kind unworrying sort of person. Food was good and there were nice home baked cakes and the tables were clean and well set. The lounge was very civilised with bookshelves and records and a noticeboard with only 1 pin up. There was a good painting of penguins and all was well painted and bright. I was amused to see a photo of 4 buxom girls in bikinis labelled in pencil Anne, Hope, Isobel and ?since they didn’t know Elise’s name, presumably then. One of the men showed me the station newspaper – roneo’d with good drawings and even photographs. They’ve been saving a copy for the PRI. [Scott Polar Research Institute]

The DUKWs went on unloading all day and we set off, since it was high tide and no use collecting, to walk to the Nuggets, the first bay on the E coast. The mist came down and we trudged along over grey sand, gravel, stones, large rocks and shale. It was quite good walking most of the way. Our route was bordered with Elephant Seals – some quite large and fierce looking, which roared and sometimes lolloped off into the sea. We came across a young light grey Leopard Seal with his big mouth and sharp teeth and long slim body. There were various groups of penguins but the finest sight was the large rookery of Royals at the Nuggets – where 3 or 4 large rocks came down to the sea like the Needles. The birds are little and have yellowy bits on their heads. There were thousands of them along the curving beach, all chattering away, seemingly just waiting and talking. A stream ran down on to the beach and up and down it came an endless stream of birds. There were a few Sea Elephants among the mass, like yellow-brown boulders. Sometimes the elephant would lollop through the penguins which scattered with much noise.

On the rise before you reach the rookery was a wooden cross to mark a sealer’s grave. Further on were the rusting ranks of digesters in which Joseph Hatch’s men used to ‘try out’ seals and penguins for their oil early this century. They were made in Birmingham and stood about 15 feet high and 20 round (the 4 large ones) and then there were 2 or 3 small cisterns, probably for making steam. The earth was paved with wooden planks.

We followed the stream driving the penguins hither and thither, up the green valley of tussocks and ‘cabbage’ to the rookery proper where there were more birds with young grey chicks. I found a good marker stave, floating in the stream and used it as a staff. The others were longer coming up, as they were collecting, so I came down by myself and waited for Elise by the digesters. She wasn’t long in coming but I had time to appreciate my solitude – or hardly solitude in the midst of so much animal life. One of the Sea Elephants kept an eye on me and I wondered if he might feel like a revenge for all the cruelty of the sealers long ago.

We walked smartly home in a grey mist with the Magga lit occasionally by the sun in the bay.

Elise started sorting the collection when we got back to the hut, and then we went in to the main hut for dinner – queue up in the kitchen, tea and coffee on the tables. We had beef and vegs and jelly ice cream, etc. talked to Jim McQueen – tall red bearded, married, nice chap, who showed me his v.g. sketches and watercolours afterwards and allowed me to choose one to keep. I chose a watercolour of a blue eyed shag. He escorted me and showed me the library and then we went off to have a drink in the sleeping hut – long hut, each man having a separate little cubicle with walls and curtain and wooden bunk, writing desk and chair. I had a brandy and the others (2 Danish sailors from Copenhagen , the radio man – Ivan Thomas – and occasionally the doctor George Palmer – queer bloke, who asked me if I were flattered to be surrounded by five men, etc., etc. The others said how nice it was to have me in a pleasant way, as if they were really pleased and not cynical like the doctor. He said he’d go and read a book on gynaecology after my visit. The Danes were nice chaps and talked of the Magga’s trip to Wilkes and then home via S. America soon. They were real sailors and liked to be off after a few weeks in a place. McQueen said how much one gets to know oneself after a year at Macquarie. They are a little nervous of returning to the outside world.

I told the others where I was, but was surprised on entering the biology hut at ¼ to 9 (the last DUKW) to find them gone. Then someone called out that they hadn’t been able to find me and had got a previous DUKW. We waited around in the carpenter’s hut and then there was a cry that Ann’s taxi had arrived and we went out into the dark to find Colin and Pete, ready to return home. I was lifted aboard and Col said I could sit in the front with him. We picked up more men en route for the beach donned life jackets and drove into the sea. Pete got me a jacket – he is a nice chap – and asked me about the historical things I’d seen. It was queer riding in the dark with the headlights on the water. There were bobbing heads of seals in front of us as we drive slowly on. Then we came to the bigger waves – Colin said ‘duck’ and I did in front of the windscreen and the wave passed over us more or less. The second was bigger and dropped over the back so that I finished with wet trousers and shirt. Then over the swell to the ship and up the ladder quite happily this time.Over the side up to our cabin to put on dry pants and down to supper.Came in to talk to John Calaby, Hope, Elise, Phil Law and the Captain. He got me some fresh cocoa and we talked of Gough Is., Heard and weasels [tracked vehicles] and Phil Law of driving in on a surf wave up the beach. Comme je suisheureuse.

6 December

Ten minutes to nine in the lounge, waiting for supper in the ship. Colin and Peter have not long ago brought the four of us back, with some of the Danish sailors who were wandering around on shore. It’s quite strange to be on the ship again and ages since we left this morning. I slept only fitfully last night – too wound up I guess and it was difficult to get used to being tipped up and down by the Magga. Up at five thirty and into the shower, then to breakfast – my second steak since coming to Australia. Isobel told us that we could come with her and Hope and Tony and John Calaby, led by John Warham, the 1959 – 60 resident biologist, on a trip to Bauer Bay on the west coast, taking an overland route . Frank Smith came and told us we had 5 minutes to go before the first DUKW. The others went down but Elise and I delayed, having hung about yesterday for 20 minutes while the loading was going on. However, today’s first load was one large drum of fuel, so it was soon ready and they did set off on time, leaving us to the next one. We got down OK – sea still quite calm, comparatively – and stood at the back with the drum, which was nearly as wide as I’m tall. It was wedged with an empty petrol can, but one of the men hung on to it and I did too. We got safely ashore and along the highway to the fuel dump, near our hut. Isobel met us and said she thought we weren’t coming and that we’d better make our own food arrangements. Met John Warham, who said we’d make too big a party and that he’d rather take us up properly later on to the little lakes on the plateau. We were rather disappointed and disgruntled, but in the end decided to walk along the shore to Handspike Pt, come back for lunch and then back to look at North Head in the afternoon.

We set out from the isthmus, past lots of seals, moulting and unmoulted, past a carcase being picked by skuas, over boulders, stones, grey gravel, rocks, towards the point, which is at the south end of Hasselborough Bay. It was grey at first, but later on the sun came out and it grew quite warm. We poked about in various rock pools and made collections of sea weed, and also picked up specimens of drifted weed along the tide mark. I didn’t get on too badly with my boots, although the crack across my right one has become a crevasse. The small stones had been mostly levelled by the Sea Elephants, and sometime we could see the furrows they had made in their journeys from their wallows in the tussock grass to the rocky shore. We walked on and on and never seemed to come to the Point. We’d told the cook we’d be back for lunch, so thought it best only to go so far, though it would have been nice to have been able to carry on and see Half Moon Bay. We climbed a large lump of rock the size of a house, with tussock on top, to get a view, but could only see the green slope of the hills and a ridge of rock towards the sea, which must have been the Point. There were more beds of ‘kelp’ which swirled in the surf. We got a good view of the bay and North Head and the camp as we turned back and walked home.

We got terribly hot when the sun was out, although there was still a light grey mist on the high slopes. I’d stupidly taken my heavy submarine jacket (or rather Hugh’s) and had on a thick vest and long johns too. Peeled off long johns and rolled up jeans and felt better. Sat down for an apple and chocolate and walked on, sometimes trying the seals’ paths through the bordering tussocks, but usually returning to the shingle because of the slimy seal wallows. We took photographs of some Gentoo Penguins and also of a pair of rusty old digesters near the edge of the shingle. The blue sea and surf, brown rocks and kelp, shiny white penguins’ chests, made a lovely picture, plus the inevitable seal or pup, with its roar or indignant bark and gaze. Some of the pups lie there fast asleep and silvery and it’s fun to stroke or tickle them till they wake up, realise you’re there and bend their backs and open their pink mouths with a little grunt or bark.

Back in time for lunch – more fuss from the boys – they’ve all been working v. hard unloading drums or erecting the new hut. I had 4 cups of tea. Helped to dry up afterwards and then went back to the Biol. hut to see how Elise was getting on with her sorting. Tied up the plastic bags and shook up the preserving formalin. We took off some clothes and set off better clad with spare jerseys, etc. in a rucksac to climb up Wireless Hill behind the main living hut, and then on to North Head. Up a steep path and on to several shoulders from whence we could see the Magga and a fine view down the east coast, which we photographed (and the base itself of course). On top of the first hill was a grave with a white wooden cross, labelled ‘In memory of John C. Windsor. Died 5.1.1951.Aged 25. RIP’. He was an ANARE boy who had appendicitis and the ship was a fortnight late in arriving and so he died. From there we went further up, past a flock of sheep, whose wool we’d already seen stacked at the base, shorn by the cook who used to be a shearers’ cook. At the top we found the remains of [Sir Douglas] Mawson’s wireless station [erected during the Australasian Antarctic Expedition, 1911 – 14] – a few planks, wires, and rusty bits and pieces, which we photographed. From there we walked along the grass ridge to North Head, whence we could see the rocky shore and Gorilla Head Rock, over which surf was breaking – a wicked place for a ship. No wonder sailing ships avoided Macquarie like the plague, if they could. Elise took notes of the place for her localities survey, and also picked some Kerguelen cabbage – succulent sort of plant with a leaf like a hollyhock and round bobbly green flowers. This and the tussock grass was the main vegetation. The cabbage was used by the sailors and sealers against scurvy.

The sea mist suddenly came in. Elise has no fear of mist, having been brought up in S Australia, where there are never mists in the hills, but I have a respect for them, knowing England and Scotland so well. (Grey man of Ben MacDhui . . .). We slid and scrambled down a little scree slope down the side of the ridge and then sat down or pushed through cabbage and tussock till we reached level tussocks (with seals) and finally the sea shore. Here we found a little group of Gentoo Penguins, which came and said hello, and which we photographed after eating an orange. It was lovely by the shore – the colour was subdued by the slight mist, but there was the kelp and the surf and the seals and penguins and grey rocks, and sometimes a gleam of sun. A little further on were more Gentoos and fluffy almost grown chicks.

We left the smooth shore walking and started climbing over or stooping under the really big rocks, or else rushing across little shingly bays between waves. We came across a large gathering of ‘nellies’ and skuas busy tearing bits off a dead sea elephant. The skuas weren’t frightened, but the giant petrels ran off awkwardly, flapping their big wings, out to sea across the kelp, sometimes hopping over the surf. We found one unafraid and photographed it, and also a little rookery of (I think) Rock Hopper Penguins, higher up on the more sandy rocks well out of reach of the sea. We came at length to ‘Catch Me Cave’, described by Mawson’s Macquarie Island party, which we had to run through in between waves. I was a bit frightened by the fairly heavy seas and high rocks, but I suppose we couldn’t really have got cut off. It was quite exciting dashing through the cave, whose stones and walls were quite wet and shiny, though it wasn’t high tide. I must tell Dr Price I’ve been there. We emerged not far from the base huts and tramped into the biology hut after an interesting afternoon.

Elise sorted more specimens and made me o/c land plants and their pressing.

We had dinner on the island, with Col and Pete and the other DUKW men. Colin came up, covered in grey dust, and wet, having shipped a wave on his last trip. They’ve finished the unloading apart from the frozen food, which is terrific. Everyone seems to know that I was left behind last night and about the wave we shipped – the first one this season. Col was at Duntroon and likes Canberra v. much. We helped to dry up again and heard about the misty trip to Bauer Bay, mainly following stakes across the high land. One young Scout’s boots disintegrated, so he walked all the way from the bay bare foot and seemed none the worse. John Calaby got lots of insects and the others were pleased with their sea animals too.

George Palmer, the doctor, asked me over to inspect his surgery, so Elise and I went after dinner. It’s a nice clean little hut, with a leech painted on the white door. He sleeps there. Fred Steen was busy painting the sick room walls pink instead of blue, as being more cheering to patients. George gave me a sherry while E went back to her plants and writing up. He asked me when I graduated and I foolishly told him and he said he thought I was about 23. Said I ought to raise a family, etc., etc. Elise came back to say she was getting the next DUKW so I decided to return too, despite a film on at base (pity really). It’s now nearly eleven again, so perhaps just as well we came back then. Washed socks and had supper (talked about huts to Phil Law and Captain – Captain looks tired and didn’t stay long) and now everyone tucked up and lights out except me, writing away here with my pink bunk curtains drawn to shield the light. Hope I sleep soundly - not long till morning again.

7 December

10 p.m. in bunk. Started to write today’s diary lying on top of bunk before dinner but felt too tired. Feel tireder now. It has been raining all day – light Scottish rain and little wind. Elise and I went over towards Aerial Cove and since the rocks were so wet we went over the shoulder to avoid them, above Catch Me Cave. However the tussocks were shoulder high at times and wet too, though one didn’t have the possibility of slipping and breaking a leg. We did slip into hidden holes and it was difficult wading through the cabbage too, but quite fun, except for getting so wet. I wore my sub jacket with hood up, a couple of sweaters, shirt, thick vest, jeans, longjohns, thick socks and boots. Fortunately I carried the bright blue plastic mac I bought in Canberra and put that on under my jacket as soon as we got down to sea level. Felt v. cold and damp while Elise was busy pulling out huge fronds of Debillia [Durvillaea Antarctica] (the huge ‘kelp’ that lines the shores). She took sections and specimens of the smooth and the inflated types and feels they are probably the same plant at a different stage. I collected in a rock pool nearby and put the various specimens of drift, super and sub littoral and Debillia into plastic bags.

Came across a group of skuas and giant petrels (white and brown) busy at the big sea elephant carcase along the shore. We had time today to look at the rookery of cormorants on one of the rocky islets near the saddle today. They are lovely birds, but have a rather hurried sort of flight compared with the grace of a gull or albatross. The ‘Nellies’ or giant petrels are funny the way they waddle quickly to take off and I saw one run over a seal in the water and then over fronds of kelp, towards the heavy seas coming in forbidding grey waves, and churning the fronds of kelp, as they came towards the coves or headlands.

Returned to lunch along the same bit of coast, being dissuaded from a climb to the ridge by seal wallows and wet tussocks. Had an exciting time getting through ‘Catch Me’ since the tide was higher and the waves bigger than yesterday. We both made a dive across the shining smooth rocks and pebbles in the cave and escaped a wetting. I am still a bit frightened of these seas, but will get used to them I suppose. The surf waves lookso huge as they come in and seem much too big to be dissipated at ordinary tide level.

Lots of wet biologists and wet DUKW men undressing in the Biology hut, taking photos of specimens and pressing plants (me), before and after lunch. Pete was there and said he was a bit shaken up today. I gave him some acid drops in a tin for Colin and himself on today’s DUKW duty, as he appreciated the ones I gave him last night. Colin said they’d enjoyed (and eaten them) by lunch time. It must be cold wet work in a DUKW today. Some of the men were busy erecting 6 petrol storage tanks so that the empty drums can go back and get their deposits back (c. £240 altogether). Others have been fitting together the framework for the new radio hut – it is in wood and all marked out, with an insulated floor. By the time we’d finished sorting and pressing, it was 20 to 3. We walked round the Garden Cove a few hundred yards away and collected lots of a green flowering plant like Pyrethrum. This I took back in plastic bags in time for afternoon tea (or rather coffee, cocoa or bournvita) at 3. Various comments on my attire and George Palmer took a photo. Elise and I got Isobel to take one of our tussock grass clothes, on the rocks, both examining a large Debillia. Collected specimens of tussock grass and Kerguelen cabbage and the lovely bright green mossy banks of Azorella.Returned to camp really looking like botanists.

Heard that the last DUKW was 5.30 today so did a buried bit of sorting and pressing and preserving in time for Elise to make a visit to the radio hut. Examined the 15 foot rusty old anchor outside one of the huts opposite. One of the chaps told me how they buried a box of ‘treasure’ under it once for the benefit of a tractor driver. This is the one that CaptO’May[of Hobart] says was Hassleburgh’s [Hasselborough’s]. Must photograph it on a better day. Back with about 16 people in the DUKW all damp and mostly weary, sitting on top of oxygen cylinders and packing cases.

John Calaby, John George, Tony and Reg who knew Hughie at Macquarie came in for drinks before supper. Calaby talking most interestingly about the history of animal nomenclature – he is sorting out the Kangaroo, which was first seen by Cook’s people in 1773. Also the Wombat, which one book described as the size of the common Turn Spit Dog (c. 1810) at Bass Strait. He is interested in these early voyages, which he collects, and also praised the Polar Record – bibliography in particular. Isobel talked interestingly about her and Hope’s lighthouse trips - playing bridge each night with the Captain and chief engineer.

Breakfast is at 7 tomorrow – one hour later. The biologists are indignant since it means they miss low-tide. Must stop. Head nodding. Nearly eleven.

8 December

In bed after a day of sunshine.Rose to find the sea calm and blue and all the coast and high land clear and green. Breakfast at seven this morning and then off in the first DUKW with crowds of people going off to empty the petrol drums into the big storage tanks and to erect the radio or radar hut, etc.

Elise rushed down to Garden Cove and did some collecting while I wrote Xmas cards. We went off quite late compared with our usual time along the coast through ‘Catch Me’. The tide was low and we had an easy passage. It was pleasant along the shore and we spent time picking up drift sea weed and collecting in pools near a little group of Gentoos. They were quite friendly and stood up in a row on a rock to be photographed. The little Rock Hoppers are fun in the rookeries high above the water on rock or tussock. They really do hop about and quite often in the lower tussocks near the rocks, there is a squawk and a little peck and you’ve trodden very nearly on a little Rockie on her nest. The Gentoo babies are nearly fully grown – all grey and fluffy but as big as their elders. They (the grown ups) came down in a little group to near where I was collecting on some low rocks at the edge of the sea. Their white fronts gleamed in the sun and what with blue sea and sky, thundering white surf, brown rocks, sea weed and slimy grey pebbles wet with the sea, it was very tempting to photograph. The Gentoos finally edged into the water and splashed about a little on the edge, but didn’t venture into the wilder seas and foaming kelp where the Giant Petrels go. I have discovered that the G.P.s have 2 phases: one white and one brown, so they’re not albatrosses that we saw yesterday or earlier pecking at the seal carcase.

Rushed round over an endless chaos of rocks towards the Point but had to turn back for lack of time. Sometimes our way was barred by fat Sea Elephants, who open wide mouths and look fierce, even if they really aren’t. We spent 10 mins.getting one chap to move who was wedged between two rocks through which we had to go – sea on one side and high rocks on the other. On the way back we made a quick excursion to the cormorant rookery on a rocky promontory. We got within a few feet of the birds and took photographs. They are elegant and have fine blue eyes. Jim McQueen’s watercolour of one will be a lovely thing to have. The birds were sitting on high nests and we even met a few among the seal wallows and tussocks, which were collecting straw for the nests.

Mad dash to be back for lunch. The base always looks so near and yet it’s so far over all the rocks. We found the tide had come in a lot and had to make a dash across Catch Me. The surf came right up to the back wall. Apparently there is a way up out onto a rock face, which avoids all the worst rocks and water, from the funnel like cave nearby. Beyond Catch Me there’s an awkward corner where you have to nip smartly round a big rock or buttress in between waves and then up and over some very shiny and sea weedy rocks (Palmina I think) before the wave comes. I got petrified by the waves and didn’t move quick enough so that the spray flew round us. However, once round that, it’s only 5 mins along a level shore to the living hut and lunch.

We were rather late but enjoyed our soup and curry. George Palmer got me to sit next to him and asked me lots of questions about my family, getting married, etc. Rather awkward. Said he was fascinated at what I said about 6 different lives and asked me to teach him some history on the ship. Phil Law asked me to give a hand with the washing up after lunch, so I don’t know whether he intentionally came to my rescue. I don’t want to get involved with anyone, especially as we are all here so much on probation still. There was endless washing up to do. Finally we escaped to theBiol Hut and found Hope and Isobel photographing a strange blue fish that Tony had caught. He was a beaut. They had been round to Handspike Pt. I told Isobel I’d pulled a muscle and she said I was lucky to have only one! One of the DUKW men – Stan – came into the hut after an X-ray of his hip. A full petrol drum rolled on him yesterday and he had been in considerable pain. We cleared one of the beds (the hut is where they sleep at night) and I tossed over a sleeping bag and he lay down and went to sleep. I popped some life savers into a pocket. I like the DUKW men – Stan was telling me about the 7 months he’d spent in Japan. I rested for a few mins.toowhile Elise was preserving the algae and then pressed the rest of the cabbage and compositae we left last night and popped the presses into the engine room to dry.

We set off again along the isthmus to get up on top of the plateau. The weather was still good and it was the first time the top (about 1000’) has been clear. We walked along towards the Nuggets, but turned off up Gadget Gully, just where a DUKW was parked and the DUKW men were looking at the animals on their afternoon off. Colin was riding a little seal and Pete taking pictures of King Penguins. They rode off to afternoon tea while we plodded on up a gentle scree slope and then up the burn and among the steepish slopes, up helpful ladders to the top. It was like Scotland – the stream, rocks, mosses and springy grass on top, plus an odd boggy patch. Went on to the very top of the rise and looked down on the Magga and the isthmus and base and North Head – a wonderful view. We saw Elise’s fresh-water lakes which she reluctantly didn’t visit, because of time, on the other side of the plateau. We ate an orange and then came down following the stakes put in by ANARE. On the way down we photographed a Weka family [Flightless bird introduced c. 1880] – Mum, Dad and baby pecking about or hiding in the cabbage and grass. They area shy bird introduced from NZ by the sealers – Maori hen I think is their name.

Then quickly down the burn to the shore, where we met Isobel, Hope, George (he is a colonel) and Frank Smith coming back from a walk. Isobel had found another rare little fish and was delighted. We met the 5.15 DUKW coming down, stopped by a seal in the way. I wish I’d whipped out my camera.

Picked up our things and got the 5.30 DUKW. Fine dinner – Captain’s birthday and we sang “For he’s a jolly good fellow” and drank his health. Finished off last Christmas cards and took them to the after lounge for stamping. Sent to my Australian friends and airmail to Ventnor [Parents’ home], G de QR [Dr Gordon Robin, S.P.R.I.] and Drum [Drummond Matthews]. They all have 1st cover stamps and the stamps themselves are lovely Antarctic ones. Tidied up and washed more sox. We have clean linen tonight – gorgeous. John Calaby at supper talked about the B.M. and about a beetle they’ve named after him. He said he was currently engaged in increasing their lice collection and of course someone took him up on this! Changeover party tomorrow. We hope to be off all day to Half Moon Bay.

9 December

Just after midnight. Have come in from a gorgeous party.The changeover party. We were spoiled – lots of men – trèssympathiques. Lovely moon over the still water now and beams or veils of pale light aurora over the sky.Noises still on the ship of people having parties.Magga looked so beautiful as we came back in the dusk – great steep hull and all the lights. The water was so calm. Colin made us all sit down in the DUK in case someone fell out. I have had about 7 glasses of plonk and feel rather hazy. Jim McQueen with fuzzy red beard and inside out (clean) red sweater looked after me well. All sorts of bods came up for dances. The Captain was there in a new pullover knitted by his wife for his birthday (yesterday). He played the musical instruments. Danced otherwise by gramophonone. Danced with Stan (the hurt DUKW man) and Jim McQueen (admired his lovely pastel penguin drawings), George (he is a colonel – psychologist), the bosun (Danish with dentist sister married in England). Nice bloke with fair beard.

Marvellous lot of food and lots of Australian beer. Hope I didn’t have too much. Ivan Thomas (the handsome black beard) looked after me too and Peter kept popping up now and again. Colin dressed up as a popsy – black hair, great eyes, eye-shadow, black tights – incredible.

9.20 a.m. next day, 10 December 1960

We are all up and waiting for the first DUKWs ashore at 10.30. Woke at our usual 5.30 and hung around waiting for breakfast, which wasn’t till 8. Said hello and how are you to the bosun who was busy getting the ship’s launch ready for slinging. A fine sunny morning again with sou’westerly breeze. Everyone says good morning, but looks just a little bit under the weather. Smoky, the large DUKW man who wandered around last night without his top clothes on, showing his tattoo marks and wearing sub.trousers and Russian fur hat, is reading PIX quietly in the after lounge now. He tells me that the bosun used to be a test driver for Ford motors and had his photo in the papers a lot. PGL and the Captain have gone off to Green Gorge – Frank Smith said I might go, but I wasn’t asked in the end. The men are busy packing up ready to take up their quarters on the island. They should have a good year as they’re a good crowd. Have had a lot of little talks with Mike Merrony the young English-Tasmanian, one of the met.boys. He’s always quietly friendly. Heard about the seismic work from the geophysicist. John Calaby, Hope and Isobel have been discussing the biology programme this morning, saying that there has been very little done and that there should be more supervision of the young men who come down and who have been left rather on their own.

I didn’t write yesterday about the earlier part of the day. It was a beautiful day – blue skies and cool SW breeze. Elise and I set off pretty promptly from the Biol. hut in the morning, after cutting some sandwiches and collecting a grapefruit and 2 oranges. We walked south along the right of the isthmus, to get to the large sea elephant wallows that Isobel told us of yesterday, behind the loaf shaped hill. It was awkward walking through the high green tussocks – either they were close together so that you had to push through them – particularly on the hill, or they were further apart and surrounded by moats of hard mud, smoothed by the seals or else green or brown stagnant pools, where the seals wallow. Sea elephants blocked the way too, but quite often we could slip by quietly without disturbing them – easier than when clonking about on the rocks, when they usually wake up, open their mouths and roar.

We came to the really big wallows with really big seals in them – all just lying there, moulting and smelling, and occasionally lifting a flipper and scratching lazily in quite a human way. We penetrated bravely between the groups of a dozen or more heavy bodies and stood on the slopes of the hill to take photographs. A couple were lying in a dark slimy pool, looking like two hippos. We regained the nice clean stones of the beach, walked along through the Gentoo penguins, and past rows of silvery seal pups along the shore. It’s amazing how much better one can cope with the stones and rocks when one is fresh after a good night’s sleep.

However the going got harder as we neared Handspike Point – two rocky promontories jutting out into the ocean, shattered by the huge waves that came in, even on a day that was calm and clear, just from the usual swell. The place must be fearsome in a storm. I keep thinking of the early people here under sail, and what it must be like to be wrecked on such a coast – if you weren’t bashed by the rocks you’d be strangled by the kelp. The rocks were quite chaotic and it was a matter of up and over and round, avoiding Sea Elephants or drying heaps of drift kelp or pools of tidal and stagnant water. Elise was always ahead in her rubber soled boots – I plodded on, muttering now and again as I slipped on my tricounis. Actually, they weren’t bad on the rocks and stones, and I slipped very little, but had to hang on with my hands quite a lot. We came at last, after examining a few pools en route to one of the actual promontories. The middle of it was quite mossy and tussockyand we came across a white Nelly which tried clumsily to struggle out of a rocky pool. We got within a couple of feet to take its picture.

By twelve fifteen we’d reached a good vantage point by the cormorant rookery and decided to have lunch on top of a big square rock the size of a house, which we got up quite easily. I quite enjoy trying out rock climbing techniques on the big rocks, as long as time isn’t short. It was lovely sitting up there looking out to sea and watching the enormous waves come rolling in with crests of white, and then breaking and smashing on the very big rocks – almost islands – and on the promontory itself. Much of the spray was shot high over even the biggest rocks. The cormorants were nesting in a hollow between surrounding rocks. Each pair had a straw built and mud nest on top of smooth rocks. They are lovely birds. While Elise went off to look at pools I lay on my tum on top of the rock and watched the birds preening each other – one on the nest and one outside – or else feeding the little black downy babies by letting the chick put its head inside the parent’s. I also watched the big waves breaking. Elise says it’s amazing that the Durvillia manages to propagate in such rough seas, but it is everywhere on the submerged rocks. When E came back, we climbed and slid down to the cormorants and waited for ages to get a picture of the parents and chicks. Unfortunately the chicks we chose were in shadow and also seemed to subside and sleep after being fed. The grown ups squawked at us a bit, but after we sat for a while, they got used to us and started preening each other.

We clambered on and got round across the rocks, tussocks and dryish marsh to the curve of Half Moon Bay. Elise progressed along by the sea, which wasn’t nearly as fierce as at the Point, while I marched along the ridge of shingle and moss and got dive-bombed by two skuas. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to look for the nest or chicks. There were groups of Giant Petrels, both white and brown, as we walked on, but they took off in their clumsy way. Elise collected some of their feathers as presents for her ‘kindergarten’ of young lab. assistants. We went as far as a little cove between the rocks where there were Gentoo penguins and young seals. Very little drift sea-weed. E wanted to see what the West coast was like and also to collect more drift specimens.

It was 3.15 before we’d finished. We decided to return over the top of the island to avoid the weary trek back over all the rocks by the shore. Elise collected some bog flora and some of the grey plants which grow in or near the bogs.

We decided that the weather was going to hold – the sun had been out practically all day and was still high in the sky. The hills were clear and green and we proceeded across a spongy bog to their slopes, and then pressed on through cabbage and tussock in a gully until we reached the barer vegetation and easier walking of the higher levels.

On top the walking was very good – dried bog and alpine type vegetation – nice and bare. The wind was stronger up there, but I still didn’t need to put on more than a shirt. We walked past a couple of tarns and saw a larger lake in the distance – all looking fairly black. We came to the stakes we saw yesterday – in fact two lots which met at a point just below where we ate our oranges on a slight rise. We looked back at the lakes and at the sea and came down to the stream leading to Gadget’s Gulley. Then down quickly and a run down the scree slopes and on to the beach amid the sea elephants and penguins again. We just had time to pickle the specimens and to put the land flora into the presses before catching the DUKW home.

10 December

I wrote about yesterday at various times after breakfast and between DUKWs. We got the first DUKW at eleven, after it had been loaded up with the kit-bags and suitcases of the ingoing party. We just had time to put some of the things together before catching the DUK back for lunch at twelve. Then back again for the last time to the island, with all the people who were to change over. A breeze got up and the waves were more choppy and nearer the DUK’s sides. Helped Elise to write labels and put the flower presses into her big ruc-sac. Took a picture of the big old anchor opposite the radio hut and post office, but my camera jammed and so Elise came and took one for me. John Warham kindly took the film out for me in the dark room of the biol. hut. Apparently he and his wife have sailed round Australia and all over the place in a yacht and he is a journalist – naturalist, writing for various papers. Hope and Isobel said how much changed for the better he was – much less self opinionated, and now helpful instead of obstructive and too busy to bother about anyone else.

7 pm – Now have left the island and are proceeding northwards on the high seas. I am in the lounge again and the returned men are here, not talking and mostly snoozing. George Palmer, the doctor, disappeared after the soup at dinner. We left at about six, and I went up to take a last look at the island, still clear and not misty. Last letters were posted on shore and we shook hands from the DUKW with most of the boys. I promised to try and see Mike Merrony’s sister at St Bart’s, London. Someone brought a pile of ‘cabbage’ on board for the rabbits which are going back for genetic studies. Now I suppose the voyage home and back to town life. I’d quite like to stay for 3 months. We are rolling quite a lot and the barometer has dropped so maybe we’ll have a storm. John Calaby is reading the first vol. of Cumpston again. Hope took a picture of me in my wet tussock climbing rig-out – sub-jacket over blue plastic mac, green seal and penguin and seaweedy trousers, nailed boots and scarf. It has been nice having clothes belonging to all sorts of people – Griff’s big woolly vest, David Taylor’s scarf, Hughie’s socks and sub-jacket, Dick’s Antarctic windproofs, Mrs Deb’s [Debenham’s] old navy slacks and maybe even other things. Jim McQueen has asked me round for drinks in the crew’s quarters – I’d better find out if the others are going and if it’s OK for me to go.

11 December

Once more in bed, having succumbed to sea sickness. We woke up to find heavy seas and wind force 8 – 9 making my boots and other loose things slide about on the floor. I thought at first the sea had come through my port hold when I heard the swishing noise. Have been up and about quite happily all day and went up after breakfast on the apron of the bridge to watch the ship pitching through the seas. We have nothing in the hold and therefore the bows are pretty clear and spray only comes aboard now and again. The sun was shining and the wind blew off the top of the waves, and the sun and spindrift made little rainbows. One little petrel, or albatross, was sitting in the midst of all this, floating up and down on the calmer waves and taking off when a foaming one came along.

Elise came up on the bridge too and then along came Peter to apologise about last night. Jim McQueen came along to collect me to go down to the crew’s quarters yesterday at about eight. I’d already decided it would be silly to go there in view of our rather probationary status as women on the exped.and told him so. He said we were also invited to a drink with the DUKWs and so went along there instead. Colin and Peter and Stan and Morry were there with a crate of beer and I sat down in the chair with old Jim with his wild red beard and red pullover full of holes, at my feet. We drank the Danish beer out of their small green bottles, the empties going out through the open port-hole. They were all on form and we talked and sang. Morry, Col and Pete are Queenslanders, Stan is from Melbourne. Col showed us photos of his wife, who is very dashing and their small son. He said he and Morry had been psycho-analysed: he was said to be cruel and OK for a weekend affair, whereas Morry was the sort of man every girl would wish to marry. Col certainly is rather reckless and he told us they’d driven over a baby seal on the last DUK run after having been searching for Dr Gresset and the Scouts. Morry is older and quieter and tall and good looking.

Later on Henry the nice bearded bosun who looks like Joe and three other Danes came in and I apologised for not coming to his cabin – he seemed to understand all right. I moved over to sit on the couch between Harry and Peter, despite protests from Jim. Later on Henry came and sat next to me and we were teased by the others because of the rumour that I’d been drinking after the party in the bosun’s cabin. The ship is worse than a village. Henry told me that he may come to England on a course, said I’d teach him to punt on the Cam. Pete and Jim became somewhat romantic and in the end I left at about one, with both of them resolutely determined to see me home across the way. Pete had said earlier on that he’d do this and objected to Jim’s following. I had a job getting rid of them both and particularly of Pete who came in to the cabin (door won’t lock) twice, despite Isobel’s stern looks and speech and my pleas. We were all worried about any disturbance that would upset future plans to take women down here. Dear old Pete. The cook now on the island was right when he said I ought to lock the cabin door.

Pete did apologise this morning and said he’d been to see the others. We had an interesting conversation – he said he’d wanted to be a Christian brother as a younger man (he must be about 30 now) and had 6 months at a sort of seminary. We talked about the services and liturgy of the R.C. and C. ofE. churches and he told me about the beauty of Benediction. Mrs Law said later at dinner how much she liked Pete and how typically Australian he was – like the Diggers of war-time. I like the way the Australian men accept you and don’t do a lot of delving into motives, as so many British academics do. I must go to Queensland one day.

A few people have succumbed and nearly everyone spent the afternoon asleep. Pete invited me along to the DUKWs cabin again for a beer before lunch. Col and ‘Dad’ (Stan) were lying on their bunks but Morry was up. First time I’ve spent a Sunday morning drinking beer. I do enjoy their company. Peter said earlier that Colin ought to grow up a bit more – he is qualified through Duntroon (like Sandhurst) and is only about 23. Pete felt it a bit off to put a young chap like Col in charge of a group of older men, but he said they’d all stick to him like glue. It seems amazing to me that the NCOs and officers are in the same cabin and are on Christian name terms and are real friends too. Terrific that this is so.

Read a little of Cumpston, vol. 2 in the after saloon and as a result was sick, since the ship pitches so much at either end. We had the Captain and Chief Engineer in for a sherry before dinner. At dinner Phil Law told us that the 2 aircraft at Mawson had been lost in a blizzard – their moorings had given way. He is now in a pickle as to what to do, especially as he has had a dozen Air Force men in training for the job for the last six months. He is not happy in a bad sea too, so he will spend a worried night. We are making 4 to 5 knots at the moment, which should delay us quite a lot. The boys are having another party tonight – heavy drinking session no doubt. I’m not invited – perhaps they’ve decided I really am a good girl despite my stripy beatnik trousers! I must write some letters sometime, having got off all my Xmas mail on the island. One feels very disinclined to do much but sleep.

12 December

Have been sleeping almost all day. The ship started to roll as well as to pitch and after last night, I decided it would be wise to take pills again. So hence the sleepy feeling. Ifinished K. FitzPatrick’s ‘Australian explorers’ and read the Captain’s Arctic Riviera – a book he brought in for me to borrow about NE Greenland, where he used to be a pilot.

After breakfast went up by bridge and took a few photos of the seas – hope I got the right angle. The DUKs were up there and Peter stayed and talked. We went down to get blankets each and sat like the babes in the wood out of the wind and well wrapped up. He had to hang on to the rail and to me to stop us both sliding sideways. We made about 6 knots today – wind force seven, having dropped from yesterday’s 8 – 9. However, it’s worse at table with the rolling - at all the meals the coffee pot has spilt all over someone and the table cloths are coloured with pink, brown, green, from different dishes. Pete asked me how old I was – he is 30. He thought I was 26 which is what most people seem to think. At their party, Stan (‘Dad’) remarked on how carefully one had to watch one’s language when there was ‘a doll’ (i.e. me) in the room. Morry said I should be very flattered at being called a doll. All these kind words are very heart-warming.

Spent the evening in the after lounge, reading with no ill effects. Les DUKs, Isobel, Hope and 2 others were playing cards. Every now and again a rogue wave would make the anchored chairs slide about and the cards go awry. The two black bearded men look very well; John Calaby read Cumpston; George the psychologist – colonel, and ‘Dad’ snoozing gently and Ivan Thomas, restless one, popping in and out, with his usual rather dashing and piratical look – a scene well worth a Velasquez paining. Col kept waking me up if I nodded at all and we kept half an ear on the music from the wireless. Phil Law came in to see if the loss of the 2 aircraft at Mawson was announced on the news, but there was no release. I’ve a good mind to stow away in the Magga for her next trip. It would be easy enough to hide in the DUKs. The boys say they’ll feed me!

Tuesday 13 December

A bitty sort of a day. Begin to realise a bit of the monotony of ship-board life again after our terrific walks on the island. Finished off CumpstonVol 2 and have made notes on both vols. It is an incredible work – hundreds of facts strung together and put in no sort of framework except that of time. Isobel, Hope, John Calaby, George the Colonel and others have borrowed the book too and make similar comments.

The sea has been better today and I spent most of the day in the after saloon reading either Cumpston or the ‘Time of the Dragons’, a novel about the Far East by Alice Ekert-Rotholz. The DUKs played cards most of the day. Col turned up to dinner in a clean shirt and best jacket and tie, saying he was going to the dance which was on over the hill. He said would I like to come and that our taxi (one of the DUKs) was waiting outside. It would be fun to go off to an island on a DUKW. The wicked Ivan and his ‘mate’ Vic grabbed me after supper and said when was I coming to have dinner with them . . . The Captain wanders in and out of the lounge now and again and cheerfully passes the time of day and looks at what we’re reading. Went forward with Mike to feed his rabbits and found that they’d been cleaned out. Apparently Henry had done this. He is like Joe. The little bunnies look well enough, but the big ones huddle in the corners of the case. Talked for a little while to … Goodridge [Goodricke], one of the black beards, who reminds me a bit of Brian [Bayly]. He was one of the met. people on Macquarie and has been doing odd jobs in Australia for the last 10 years, mainly in Tasmania. He’s the son of a Kentish village parson and is coming to England to spend some of his money and to see Europe. Jim McQueen has been conspicuous for his absence lately at meals, but he turned up for a couple today. He came in and apologised to me for his language the other night, which was nice of him. There is to be a sing-song tomorrow night. The DUKW choir is singing a version of ‘Tie me kangaroo down, sport’ – words as if spoken by Mike Taylor, who is supposed to be sad to leave Macquarie, and who gives advice to all the newcomers. I stayed on after supper talking to … Goodridge and they started their rehearsal – Mrs Law conducting. It’ll be quite strange to find us all splitting up in Melbourne and I can imagine how the Macquaries must feel about the wide world they go back to.

15 December

Morning 9.15 a.m. Elise, Isobel and Hope packing up to clear the cabin for a scrub tomorrow when we’re due in Melbourne. Later: Frank Smith came in to hand us a brush and shovel and to say that we were expected to give the cabin a sweep out and a clean. I got busy and swept and swabbed and made the place look quite good. The Scouts were next on the list and then Pete came in still sozzled. He’d been up drinking with Smoky and some of the others all night in the after saloon. He looked pretty awful. Jack Goodridge, one of the black beards, asked when I was coming to do their cabin and in the end we struck a bargain and I said I’d clean it for £2. Hairy Jim McQueen was still in his bunk, but dressed – I think he’d been up all night too – and Oscar was there, but quite bright. Much chaff as I did the room and comments from Mike Taylor and George Palmer next door.

Last night was another sing-song. The DUKs were very good with their ‘’I’m returning to town, Sport’ – Mike Taylor’s song on leaving Macquarie. They dressed up for it with cook’s hat and all and radiosonde balloon and the song went down very well. I wore a skirt – my old Scottish Fort William one and felt somewhat uncomfortable in it. it was a rum sort of an evening. The songs were good and Phil Law played well, but . . Off smartly to bed when the party ended. Apparently one of the blokes came in later to see if I’d come on to the other party. Earlier I visited Ivan Thomas and Co but I don’t care for them much – too leery. The Frenchman Max from NorwelleCaledonie sang some French songs, but they were not the ones I know apart from ‘Larisette’

We are all up forward – Jack Goodridge, John Calaby, Jim McQueen – yarning on the foc’sle. John has just been telling me about the Flinders Is. – Bass, Flinders and Munro. The Laws and the 3 scouts have been taking photographs. It is a beautiful day – calm blue sea and the islands in.

16 December

I never finished yesterday’s diary as we were talking and taking photographs and then when the Laws went away and Jim and Jack disappeared to get their ration of grog, Henry the bosun came up and we talked about Greenland and Cambridge. He told me he used to be a test driver for Ford in Denmark. He has had the rabbits out on the roof of the hutch scampering about. Jack reminds me so much of M.B.B. [Brian Bayly, Cambridge geologist]. Gentle and full of fun – whimsical really – yet his beard, and unlike Brian, a terrifically wicket sort of a side to him, scoffing with J. McQueen at lots of things and mainly because his father is a parson I suppose.

After dinner Phil Law showed his slides of McMurdo Sound – mainly taken in the blizzard some 6 weeks ago. Jack took me up to their cabin for a drink and we were joined by hairy Jim McQueen in his check shirt, bare feet and tatty old navy trous. He later popped down to see if any of the crew wold like to come up (teasing me about the bosun) but only Louis, the tall rather talkative one appeared, since there has been a strict rule that expedition and crew are not to visit each other. We drank whisky and the Danish beer. Jack sat next to me, and put his black head on my lap and his bare feet up in the air on the bunk. Somehow or other the conversation worked around to marriage, of which Jim McQueen is a great disciple, being married himself 2½ years ago. He felt that Jack and I should marry and that we should get the Captain to marry us that night. It was hard to distinguish between words said in fun and those said seriously. Jack told me he loved me and that he would like to marry me. I couldn’t say yes, and thus forfeited the £100 that Jim offered us as a wedding present. I do feel right with Jack, as Jim kept pointing out. In the end Jim got so impatient, having had an almost all night party last night, that he more or less shoved me out. Jack thought the ideas would appeal to me and said my hesitation was out of character. We did decide, though, half seriously, again, that I would come to Jack’s house instead of flying to NZ after 5 days in Melbourne. I don’t know how we arrived at this, but suddenly it was all settled. After Christmas we would visit the west coast and then I would finish up in Hobart and see all my chums there. Funnily enough, Jim and Jack knew Chris Kosh well.

Peter Bourke was tight all day and was rather a horrid sight (Jim told me I’m the crew’s pin-up – MaggaAnn).

16 December

Here I am, strangely enough in bed in Jack’s younger sister’s room outside Launceston. This is a lovely old country house full of old furniture and things from all over the world, a bit like Gran Couch’s place. We docked in Melbourne this morning at about ten and were met by a small crowd, plus reporters. Ida McMahon was very kind and got me eventually to ANARE. It’s late and I think I’ll write more tomorrow.

17 December

Bliss! Sitting in shade and sun under a tree in the garden of the Goodricke’s house near Launceston. [Tasmania] It really is lovely – marigolds and catmint and a lawn with white clover; roses and pansies and a low white wooden house about 90 years old, with an ironwork balcony. This morning I woke up quite early, but snoozed till about nine when Mrs Goodricke brought in my breakfast on a tray. My room is Jack’s (or John as he’s known in the family) sister’s room. She is a missionary in Borneo and is the one who is fond of horses. There are five children, all pretty close together; I think three of them are married. After breakfast I had a shower and then we looked round the ‘property’ with Mrs Goodricke. On the verandah was a white cockatoo – Cockie – aged 34 and rather grubby. He said “hello Cockie” to me and when I tickled his top knot he said “Scratch cockie”. We walked through long dry grass to visit the old grey (white) horse aged 17. Jack put the halter on him while Mr Goodricke rubbed his back legs with ointment. He is a nice horse and likes chunks of bread. There are several fruit trees – apples, peach, cherry, nectarine – and a lot of strawberries and raspberries. The previous owner started putting a gravel drive round the house and did away with part of the flower garden, which is a pity. There is a nice drive of pine trees, the bees are humming, the sky blue with tiny cotton clouds, and there’s a fine old chestnut tree opposite and swallows or martins under the eaves of the house. Jack has gone off to get a hire car from Deloraine.

Yesterday was a pretty full one. Melbourne from the river looks pretty awful, but there were ships of many nationalities tied up there. All the chaps stood on deck in suits or (the DUKs) in uniform, just as I’ve seen in so many films. I visited Jack and Co. and floated round chatting with other people, including Isobel, who told me about her visit to Scotland. Most people got swept off by relatives. Ida McMahon told me that the Norsel was just a few hundred yards up river from the Magga. She took Swithers [Charles Swithinbank] and Fred Roots & Co. on the Norwegian-British-Swedish expedition, 1949 – 52. Ida suggested we should go and visit her. She is registered in TromsØ and is chartered by ExpéditionsPolairesFrançaises (Missions Paul – Emile Victor) or I imagine the French still called that. The members refuse to travel from France in Norselas she is a tiny ship and very crowded. Phil Law said food was 19th Century type – ships’ biscuits, stockfish and little water on the NBSX too. So the expedition came out in the Himalaya and then fly [flew] to Hobart, catching up Norsel at the latest possible moment. Ida said I should ask for a lift to Hobart, but we’d have taken 3 days to get there, if I’d really wanted to go.

We went along and I asked for Monsieur Dijon, the leader. He wasn’t aboard, but we were shown round by Messieurs Garnier and Fritsch, meteorologists. The deck was crammed with a biological caboose, and lots of other things in cases. We heard a dog yelping, but it turned out to be not a husky, but a medium sized brown dog, born Kerguelen and pet of one of the members of the expedition. The expedition wear almost royal blue overalls; ANARE men have dark blue ones. We spoke in French all the time – mine is rather rusty, but I didn’t do too badly. Ida suggested we should show them the Magga which they were glad to see. She contrasts very much with her spacious cabins and size, to the little grubby Norsel, where 5 men are packed into a very small space.

Don Styles kindly brought along Monsieur Dijon to meet me. He is a lean dark man, a doctor I think, who talked very pleasantly about Terre Adélie and Greenland. It seems queer the French bothering to maintain an interest in their tiny slice of Antarctica, at such distance and with such effort. He said there are 31 men going down, which is quite a lot. After saying goodbye, I went to find Ida, who’d disappeared to the Laws’ cabin – Mrs Law had been hidden away during the arrival as PGL didn’t want the press to know she’d been down. We hung about a bit and eventually got up to the Antarctic Division with all my clobber. Jack was there and gave me an air ticket to Tasmania at six and then rushed off to see about his own luggage.

I spent the afternoon talking to people – including Captain J.K. Davis [Sea captain of Antarctica’s “Heroic Age”, whose diaries were published by Bluntisham and Erskine Press in 1997,edited by LouiseCrossley.] who came in and chatted and shook hands. Also met a Dr Malcolm Hay, O.I.C. a doctor at Davis during the coming year. He seems a bright, enthusiastic young man and I managed to arrange for him to borrow Mr A Keith Jack’s old Shackleton theodolite to observe the movement of a glacier near Wilkes. I repacked my things and left a whole lot of stiff under the catalogue in the library. Ida showed me some press cuttings about our departure, including a feature article in the Age of 30 November about my leaving on the 50th anniversary of Scott’s departure for the Antarctic in Terra Nova. There was stacks of mail for me at ANARE and I spent the lunch hour reading it.

Jack turned up again at five and we had a good flight to Launceston and arrived here, being met by his mother and father, who are very English. This all seems a bit of a muddle now, but up to date I reckon. The end of day on the 17th we spent listening to records of ‘My Fair Lady’ and Mozart and also drove to ANA to pick up my lost suitcase. No sign of the frame of my ruc-sac.


I returned home to England in February 1961 travelling across the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans in a French passenger-cargo vessel, the Mélanésien, getting engaged to my future husband, Laurence Shirley, in the West Indies. (He said he would jump overboard if I didn’t say Yes). He had been doing voluntary work in the Himalayas for the Ryder-Cheshire Foundation. We married in Cambridge, and later moved with our two young sons to Canterbury, Kent. I joined the senior curatorial staff of the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, in 1970, and retired in 1987. During those years I took charge of the Arctic Gallery (a little science here), assisted in the Captain Cook Gallery displays and with those for Captain R.F. Scott’s old barque Discovery, now berthed in Dundee, Scotland. In writing her ‘biography’ I covered the geographical and scientific achievements of the Antarctic expeditions she carried south in 1901 – 04, 1925 – 27, and 1929 – 31. The Voyages of the Discovery: the illustrated history of Scott’s ship was first published in 1992, with a foreword by H.R.H. the Duke of Edinburgh and a preface by the late Sir Peter Scott. Since becoming involved in the polar regions, I have published well over a hundred articles in journals and Conference Proceedings.

Perhaps I may mention another matter connected with Antarctic science. After taking part as a “guinea pig” in the Cambridge Spitsbergen Physiological Expedition of 1955, I began collecting polar books. During my research for the above volume, about Discovery, I became aware of a connection between the National Antarctic Expedition of 1901 – 04, led by Captain R.F. Scott, R.N., and the German Antarctic Expedition of 1901 – 03, led by Professor Erich von Drygalski in the Gauss. Realising that Drygalski’s narrative ZumKontinent des EisigenSüdens . . .had never appeared in English, I persuaded Dr Maurice Raraty, Senior Lecturer in German Literature at the University of Kent, to translate and edit this volume, first published in Berlin in 1904 in the old German script. Bluntisham Books and Erskine Press published his perceptive translation with its excellent Introduction in 1989.

Further Reading

BENNETT, Isobel. Shores of Macquarie Island. Adelaide, Rigby, 1971.

CUMPSTON, J.S. Macquarie Island.Melbourne, Antarctic Division, Department of External Affairs, 1968.

SAVOURS, Ann. The discovery of Macquarie Island, 1810.Polar Record (Cambridge), Vol 12, No. 78, 1964, p. 312 -313.

SELKIRK, P.M. and others.Subantarctic Macquarie Island: environment and biology. By P.M. Selkirk, R.D. Seppelt and D.R. Selkirk Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1990.(Studies in polar research).

TAYLOR, B.W. The flora, vegetation and soils of Macquarie Island. Melbourne, Antarctic Division, Department of External Affairs, 1955. (A.N.A.R.E. Reports, Series B, Vol. 2, Botany)


I am very grateful to the late Dr. P.G. Law, Director of the Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions, for appointing me to join the Macquarie Island Relief Voyage, December 1960.

In the preparation of this article, commissioned only a few weeks ago, I have been greatly helped by Lorraine Mackey, in particular, and by Kate Berry and Megan Shirley.