Building the base

On deck of the Aurora
On deck of the Aurora off the West Coast, Macquarie Island. Kelvin sounding machine in the foreground.

In their own words

Looking back I can only feel extremely well satisfied with our work at Macquarie Island. We had a lot to do in the way of landing stores etc, getting the wireless masts erected, and all of this was accomplished without any serious accident, and 90 tons of coal was transhipped from the Toroa. It was altogether one of the most strenuous and exciting fortnights I have spent, and we were extremely lucky the wind during the whole period was Easterly, NE or SE … The coast is practically unsurveyed and so it was no easy job with a deeply loaded ship. Mawson throughout worked like a Trojan, and I am glad for his sake that the party was so successfully landed. It now remains for them to do their work.

– Diary of J.K. Davis, 26 December 1911

See the letter from the Premier of Tasmania granting authority to Douglas Mawson to establish a base on Macquarie Island [PDF] ©Mawson Antarctic Collection, South Australian Museum.

Digging the pits for bedding the heavy, wooden ‘dead men,’ and erecting the wireless masts, the engine-hut and the operating-hut provided plenty of work for all. Here was as busy a scene as one could witness anywhere – some with the picks and shovels, others with hammers and nails, sailors splicing ropes and fitting masts, and a stream of men hauling the loads up from the sea-shore to their destination on the summit.…

The hauling was carried out to the accompaniment of chanties, and these helped to relieve the strain of the Work. It was a familiar sight to see a string of twenty men on the hauling-line scaring the skua-gulls with popular choruses like `A' roving' and ‘Ho, boys, pull her along’. In calm weather the parties at either terminal could communicate by shouting but were much assisted by megaphones improvised from a pair of leggings.

Considering the heavy weights handled and the speed at which the work was done, we were fortunate in suffering only one breakage.

– Douglas Mawson, The Home of the Blizzard

This page was last modified on July 3, 2014.