The harsh toll of the expedition can be seen in the faces of the adventurers at the conclusion of their trek, 2012, photo supplied by James Castrission and Justin Jones, MAAS collection, 2014/48/54.
“… all kinds of schemes were in progress for adapting our sledging-gear and instruments to the severe conditions. Nobody was idle during the day, for, when there was nothing else to be done; there always remained the manufacture and alteration of garments and crampons.”
The Home of the Blizzard’, Sir Douglas Mawson, 1915.
When Australians, Justin Jones (Jonesy) and James Castrission (Cas), successfully completed the first unsupported return journey to the South Pole, on 26 January 2012, they were in a sense, following in the footsteps of pioneers from years past. Continue reading
Dr David Lewis, happy on his arrival in Cape Horn, South Africa, March 1974. From BOX 2 B 24446-2. Collection: MAAS
Restoration of the sailing boat that made the first single handed voyage to Antarctica
Dr David Lewis was a courageous sailor, an extra-ordinary navigator and an adventurer with big dreams. He was the first navigator in modern times to cross the Pacific Ocean without using instruments, following a legendary Maori course from Tahiti to New Zealand. In 1972, David undertook another adventure to sail, alone, to Antarctica and circumnavigate the subcontinent. He bought a second hand, steel hulled boat designed by Dick Taylor. It was an 11 metre sailing boat, called Ice Bird and David and some friends hurriedly prepared it for his summer journey. The steel boat had a large amount of lead in the ballast in case the boat capsized. The trip involved sailing through the ‘Roaring Forties’, the ‘Furious Fifties’ and the ‘Screaming Sixties’. He encountered mountainous seas with 35 metre waves, constant gales, hurricanes and freezing temperatures. The boat was not built for such incredible conditions and capsized three times, twice on the way to the Palmer Antarctic Station and once on its way to Cape Town, South Africa. Continue reading
C4737 pumice from the summit of Mount Erebus, collected during Sir Ernest Shackleton’s British Antarctic Expedition, Antarctica, 1909-1911
Over summer the beaches of Sydney have seen the arrival of a ‘pumice raft’. The high tide line has been marked by a distinctive row of small light weight rocks which floated in on the tide. The phenomenon caused much comment amongst beach goers and gave children an exciting new material for their sandcastles. As usual a search in the Powerhouse Museum collection turned up something interesting; samples of pumice collected in 1908 by the party who made the first ascent of Mount Erebus in Antarctica. The party included Sir Douglas Mawson and Dr T. W. Edgeworth-David and the climb was undertaken during Sir Ernest Shackleton’s British Antarctic Expedition. Continue reading
Underpants worn by James Castrission and Justin Jones during the Crossing the Ice Antarctic expedition. Image courtesy of James Castrission and Justin Jones.
These two pairs of undies are part of a large collection of equipment and personal items used by Antarctic adventurers James Castrission (Cas) and Justin Jones (Jonsey) on their ‘Crossing the Ice’ Antarctic expedition to the South Pole, 2011-2012.
You may rightly notice that the pair on the left does not look like your average pair of underpants and it would not be remiss of you to ask what the unusual thing attached to them could possibly be…
Justin Jones with his Christmas present, an extra ration of food, inside their tent during their ‘Crossing the Ice’ expedition. Fellow expeditioner, James Castrission later wrote, “This was going to be the whitest of white Christmases ever”. Image courtesy of Justin Jones and James Castrission.
It’s exactly a year to the day since Australian adventurers, James Castrission and Justin Jones, celebrated Christmas in Antarctica during their trek from the coast of Antarctica to the South Pole and return. Castrission, Jones and the fellow adventurer, Norwegian, Aleksander Gamme, were the first in history to complete this journey without any form of assistance on the 26th January 2012.
“We were heading to 90 degrees south, a place that had always held a starry-eyed fascination for me – it was the factory of adventure and home to some of the most inhospitable beauty on the planet” wrote Castrission in his recently published book, ‘Extreme South’, which documents the expedition.
Camel pack saddle, Powerhouse Museum collection, purchased 1962, H6926.
With Christmas almost upon us and countless nativity plays and greeting cards featuring wise men and camels, my thoughts turn to a rare and interesting item in the Museum’s collection I researched a number of years ago, a camel pack saddle. It was used by Afghan camel drivers who led hundreds of camel trains throughout inland Australia. By the turn of the twentieth century camel trains provided transport for almost every major inland development project. They carried the poles, wire and rocks for the construction of the Overland Telegraph Line and stations; the sleepers, food, water and supplies for the men building the desert railways to Oodnadatta and Alice Springs as well as the Transcontinental Railway.
It is thought this ice-filled face in a Burberry helmet is the meteorologist, C.T. Madigan, on Mawson’s expedition. John George Hunter collection of photographs of Antarctica, 1911-1914, courtesy of Flickr.
In earlier blogs I have written with great enthusiasm about the sledges and food taken on Dr Douglas Mawson’s 1911-1914 Australasian Antarctic Expedition (AAE). Now I find myself similarly excited about some of the clothing from this expedition in our collection. Two items are particularly interesting, a windproof helmet and large pair of over trousers. Both were made by the famous London clothing firm, Burberry. In 1911 each member of Mawson’s expedition was fitted out with two Burberry polar outfits at a cost of 100 pounds each member. One suit comprised three pieces: trousers, blouse-jacket and helmet, whilst the other was made of two; the blouse-jacket and helmet being combined.
The 1964 EH Holden driven by Dick Smith on the first Variety Club of NSW Bourke to Burketown Bash in 1985. Gift of Variety, the Children’s Charity, 2004. Collection of the Powerhouse Museum, 2004/50/1.
Last Sunday the 2012 Variety Club of NSW Bash participants left the inner-Sydney suburb of Balmain for their annual trip. The unusual Australian term, ‘Bashing’ probably short for bush-bashing was used in 1985 by businessman, adventurer and philanthropist, Dick Smith, when he invited a few mates on a drive to the outback. The drive was eventually called the Bourke to Burketown Bash and went from Sydney to Bourke, in far western NSW, and on to Burketown, in Northern QLD. The idea was to relive the fun and adventure of the Redex car trials of the 1950s, popularised by Gelignite Jack Murray, and to raise money for the Variety Club of NSW, a charity which provides goods and service for children with special needs.
Australian adventurer, Justin Jones, on the record-breaking Antarctic expedition 2011-2012. Photo courtesy of James Castrission and Justin Jones.
We came to probe its mystery, to reduce this land to terms of science, but there is always the indefinable, which holds aloof yet which rivets our souls”…
wrote the Australian geologist and explorer Sir Douglas Mawson of Antarctica, that majestic yet formidable continent located at the southernmost point of our planet, in his 1930 book ‘The Home of the Blizzard’.
My own closest brush with Antarctica thus far was earlier this year. It involved spying minute icebergs from the porthole of a rumbling Boeing 747 as it fought the trade winds, performing a semi circular loop between Sydney and Johannesburg over the Southern Ocean, near the edge of the Antarctic continent. Thus until recently I couldn’t even imagine what it must feel like to experience the mixed sense of wonderment, reverence and foreboding that Mawson, and many travellers to Antarctica since, have expressed of their first hand contact with this majestic and severe frozen continent.
Lores Bonney and her aircraft, My Little Ship, at Archerfield Aerodrome in 1932 before her round-Australia flight. Collection: Powerhouse Museum.
In celebration of International Women’s Day for 2012 I’d like to highlight the amazing short but inspiring aviation career of Maude (Lores) Bonney (1897-1994), one of Australia’s pioneers. Lores’ passion for flying began after a flight in 1928 with aviation legend, Bert Hinkler, her husband’s cousin. In 1930 she began flying lessons in secret while her husband, Harry Bonney, played golf. When Lores confessed her aviation pursuits, he helped her buy a DH60 Gipsy Moth aircraft which she called affectionately “My Little Ship”. Being a leather manufacturer he had two full-length suede flying suits made for her.