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Douglas Mawson

In their own words

Douglas Mawson Portrayed by Chris
Audio: 2 minutes

A terrible catastrophe happened. My sledge crossed a crevasse obliquely and I called back to Ninnis,  to watch it, then went on, not thinking to look back again as it had no specially dangerous features. After a quarter of a mile I noted Mertz halt ahead and look enquiringly back. I looked behind and saw no sign of Ninnis and his team. I stopped and wondered, then bethought myself of the crevasse and hurried hack to find a great gaping hole in the ground. I called down but could get no answer. I signalled Mertz who was on skis ahead and he brought my team up to the scene. We hung over the edge but could see nothing nor get any answer. It was about 11 feet wide where broken through and straight ice-walled.

By hanging over on an alpine rope, we caught a glimpse of what appeared to be a food bag and one dog partially alive moaning, and part of another dog and dark object, apparently the tent, caught on a ledge. We sounded to the ledge with furlong line, 150 feet sheer, ice ledge. No sign of Ninnis – must have struck it and been killed instantly, then gone on down. Our ropes not long enough to go down, or the sledge to span crevasse. Dog ceased to moan shortly. We called and sounded for three hours, then went on a few miles to a hill and took position observations. Came back, called and sounded for an hour.  Read the Burial Service.  Reviewed our position: practically all the food had gone down - spade, pick, tent, Mertz's Burberry trousers and helmet, cups, spoons, mast, sail etc. We had our sleeping bags, a week and a half food, the spare tent without poles, and our private bags and cooker and kerosene. The dogs in my team were very poorly and the worst, and no feed for them. We considered it a possibility to get through to Winter Quarters by eating dogs, so nine hours after the accident started back, but terribly handicapped.  May God Help us.

Attribution

Voiced by Christopher Baldock

Audio source

The Home of the Blizzard: being the story of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition, 1911-1914

Related information

Sir Douglas Mawson
Sir Douglas Mawson
Sir Douglas Mawson
Sir Douglas Mawson

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

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