Out and about

Blake at the Sandy Bay Sealers' hut, Macquarie Island
Blake at the Sandy Bay Sealers' hut, Macquarie Island.

In their own words

On February 7, Blake and Hamilton, who had been making preparations for several days past, set out for Sandy Bay, intending to do some work in that locality. Their blankets, sleeping-bag, instruments and other gear made rather heavy swags, but they shouldered them in true Murrumbidgee style and tramped away.

– George Ainsworth in The Home of the Blizzard

Although Ainsworth, Sandell and Sawyer were largely confined to Wireless Hill by the need to send and receive radio messages, Blake and Hamilton spent much of 1912 and 1913 away from the hut in the field. Although they had a small tent, they generally made use of caves or the abandoned (and dilapidated) sealers’ huts at Sandy Bay, Lusitania and the South End. When away from base camp food was at a premium and was supplemented by egg collecting and by hunting, Working conditions in the field were extraordinarily difficult – the average annual temperature was less than 5°C and mist, rain, sleet or snow – often all of them – occurred on over 300 days in the year.

They started their field operations on 5 January 1912, after building the expedition hut.

Because they had to carry heavy equipment such as cameras and the theodolite that Blake used for mapping, as well as provisions, they used boats whenever possible to get around the island. Some use was made of a boat belonging to the sealers and later a dinghy was delivered on a visit of the sealing vessel Rachel Cohen. In the two years Hamilton and Blake lived on Macquarie Island, they suffered many dunkings in the rough surf and the boats were frequently damaged negotiating rough waters among the marginal rocky reefs. However, whenever possible they used the boats to set up supply depots at various locations down the east coast. From the Aurora a depot of provision had already been laid at Caroline Cove at the southwest corner of the island.

This page was last modified on July 3, 2014.