Sawyer was on duty on the night of 2 February 1912 when he heard his first signal – a morse message from Wellington, New Zealand, calling Suva station. He received nothing more for more than a week, and had put it down to ‘freak’ conditions when on 13 February he made two-way communication with the ship Ulimaroa.
Within 24 hours signals had been received from three other ships, one as far away as Cape Horn. The Macquarie party learned that the Hobart wireless station, still being built, would be working within a month or so. Ainsworth reported ‘great joy’ in the party at the knowledge that they could expect regular contact with Hobart. (In the event, the Hobart station was not completed until May 1912.) Within a month there was contact with Suva, nearly 4000 kilometres away.
On the night of 11 March, during a heavy snowstorm, the party learned that Amundsen had returned to Hobart with the news that his party had reached the South Pole.
From then until its departure nearly two years later, the party kept up communication with the outside world. In favourable atmospheric conditions all eastern Australian and New Zealand stations, New Guinea and Fiji were in range, as well as ships in distant southern waters.