‘A galvanism in it all’

Mawson was in charge on the wharf.  He trod the fairway ‘armed with bundles of typewritten lists checking there, sorting here, answering enquiries with short shrift, earnest and hurried, comprehending a host of details … There was a galvanism in it all,’ wrote Archie McLean.

The frenetic activity built camaraderie as well as fitness, as Mawson recalled, and ‘also gave the opportunity of personally gauging certain qualities of the men, which are not usually evoked by a university curriculum’. It also reinforced Mawson’s growing respect for Davis, who ‘had arranged for the stowage of everything with a nicety which did him credit’.

In the end, with the best will in the world there was too much cargo for Aurora. The small steamer Toroa was chartered to carry remaining supplies and extra coal, along with most members of the continental bases, as far as Macquarie Island.

It was in Hobart in late November that the 31 members of the shore parties met each other for the first time. Wild, Bickerton, Ninnis and Mertz had travelled from Britain, and Eric Webb and Dr L A Whetter had sailed across from New Zealand.