Historian celebrates Australia Day in the Antarctic

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Oamaru author and historian David Harrowfield contacted the Oamaru Mail on Sunday evening by satellite phone to give readers another taste of his two-month journey to Antarctica and the Subantarctic Islands as a lecturer and on-shore host with Heritage Expeditions.

Here is Dr Harrowfield’s report:

“With the sea ice now out we will, by this time tomorrow, be at Ross Island. Last evening, we went ashore on Inexpressible Island – one of the most historic sites linked to the Northern Party of Captain Scott’s British Antarctic Expedition 1910-1913.

The Northern Party of six men was forced to excavate a cave in ice and there they spent the winter of 1912. The ice cave has long since gone, although poignant reminders are seal skeletons and an old supply tin. I sat on a rock until 11pm and probably wrote the first postcards done on the island. Many did not get to bed until 2am today.

With conditions still favourable this morning, we entered Terra Nova Bay and on landing saw the German summer-only station, Gondwana, which is presently closed – a first for me.

There was much to see in the area, along with the palatial new South Korean Station where around 40 will winter this year. On walking around a granite boulder, I was confronted with a fine emperor penguin; one of two seen. Have taken many photos including the rocks, lichens and wonderful turquoise-coloured ice in bergs.

We are now en-route for Ross Island and in a snow storm glimpsed the huge Drygalski Ice Tongue.

Australia Day so far has been great. Two passengers at breakfast wore Australian flags, had Vegemite from a tube on toast and sang Waltzing Matilda. The Australian flag was also flown on shore. Tonight will retire early as hope to be at Scott Base in 24 hours.”