Down to business

Two shipwrecks — one very recent involving the ship Clyde, whose crew was stranded on the island – were a further warning to Davis to take care, but continuing easterlies enabled a landing from the west. Mawson, his Macquarie Island leader George Ainsworth and the rest of the shore party camped in a small wooden sealers’ hut.

Above the hut, on the far-northern peninsula, was the prominence they would call Wireless Hill. Here the men of the AAE set about constructing the buildings and aerial masts that signified the main purpose of the Macquarie party: the wireless station that would relay messages between his main Antarctic base and Hobart.

On 13 December, Toroa arrived with the remaining 17 members of the expedition — along with 50 sheep, coal (mostly for Aurora) and most of what the Macquarie party needed for its year on the island. The next couple of days were spent transporting construction materials, equipment and supplies ashore.

Three days later Toroa was away again, carrying the expedition secretary and the last mail from the expeditioners. In the maritime and Antarctic traditions of helping those in need, the ship also had on board, as Davis noted in High Latitude, ‘a large consignment of sea-elephant oil, … and Mr Bauer, together with five of his sealers and the chastened but rejoicing crew of the ill-fated Clyde.’