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Introduction

14/01/2011

This copy of the diary of Stanley Gordon Roberts Taylor has been transcribed by a co-operative effort of a number of his descendants.

Stan wrote this diary while he was serving as a fireman (stoker and greaser) on the Steam Yacht Aurora’s 1912-13 voyage to collect Dr Douglas Mawson and the Australian Antarctic Exploring Expedition after their winter’s work there.

This was the famous voyage which was unable to return to pick up Dr Mawson and the personnel who had remained at the base due to the late return of the exploring party of Mawson, Mertz and Ninnis.

Stan was born in Prahran, Melbourne on 23rd December 1887.  He had very limited education at Collingwood and Avoca primary schools and ‘ran away to sea’ at the age of 12 or 13 years.

We have only corrected the original spelling and sentence structure where we feel this is necessary to make the meaning of the text easier to discern.

We appreciate the dedication and determination it must have taken to keep this daily record and log of the voyage.  We see him in his damp and draughty cabin, rugged up against extreme cold, meticulously recording position, temperature and soundings, and taking us with him through each day;  and all the while, the continuous heaving and rolling, rolling, rolling of the ship.

Stan was a very observant young man, with a keen interest in the world around him.  After long hours on duty, carrying coal and stoking the furnaces, butchering sheep,working with the sailmaker and taxidermist, and looking after the sled dogs, and skylarking with his mates, he huddled in the cramped cabin, using a dip-pen and bottle of ink, he recorded this diary.  He told his mother that if ever she should see film or photographs of the Aurora, she might see him hanging upside down in the rigging.

This diary gives us a vivid picture of the times and the conditions people lived and worked under in the early exploration of Antarctica.

When the crew signed on for the voyage, they were told that they were not allowed to take any photographs or keep any diary of the journey, as this was deemed to be the exclusive preserve of the official photographer, Frank Hurley, and the Secretary of the Expedition, Mr C.C.  Eitel.  To our knowledge this is one of only two records of the journey from the perspective of the working men on the ship (see  Bert Lincoln ).

In reading this diary, we can share with Stan his pleasure in the beauty and grandeur of the Antarctic wilderness, as well as the hardships they suffered and his doubts and fears.  “Our very lives are depending on these old engines.  I can tell you, I listen to every little sound they make, expecting something to carry away at every moment.”

(c) Copyright 2011. No reproduction without permission of any part of this diary or its transcription.  All rights reserved.

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