JF Ptak Science Books Post 2495
Oh bloody hell--was there anyone as tough as Douglas Mawson? The impossible situations he survived for months on end are just, well, impossible. He just kept going in the most extreme environment in the Antarctic in the face of long and endless perdition--and won. And to be honest I'm not sure who claims him--the Brits because he was born there, or the Aussies because he emigrated with his folks when he was two years old--but I'd fight for him being mine whatever the position on the globe I was in. I've read Mawson's Will by Lennard Bickel and also parts of his own The Home of the Blizzard (available at Project Gutenberg but it reads much better with an older print version, so you can feel its big chunkiness in your hands). The books are both about his 1911-1914 Australasian Antarctic Expedition, which Sir Edmund Hilary calls "the most outstanding solo journey ever recorded in Antarctic history", and which is no overstatement.
So when I discovered that I had a small publication from the Geographical Journal (September 1914) by Sir Douglas called "The Australasian Antarctic Expedition, 1911-1914" I was pretty excited. It is short (29pp) but it seems to be the first time that he addressed the expedition in any detail; it is first-person and very concise, nearly so to the point of brittleness. And it has a couple of killer folding maps (large folding ones for King George V Land and Adelie Land) to illustrate the trek. There's also a do-not-stand-in-my-way portrait of Mawson, who recounts the trek and what was supposed to be the charting and geological/glaciological reconnaissance of the 1500-mile Antarctic coast southward of Australia. Then there was the tragedy, and his 160km 30-day solo march through The Bad Stuff.
You can read the article online via Wiley and JSTOR by following this link http://www.jstor.org/stable/1778688?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents and getting a JSTOR permit. If you don't have an account that includes JSTOR, it is well worth the effort of signing up for the free stuff that it offers.
- There are three film clips in existence for the expedition, found at Australian Screen: http://aso.gov.au/titles/documentaries/home-blizzard/