Skip to content

Part 1

Melbourne, Port Kembla, Tasmania, Auckland and MacQuarie Islands
What follows is a page by page copy of Stanley Gordon Roberts Taylor’s original diary of his voyage as a crewman on S.Y.Aurora to Antarctica with Sir Douglas Mawson’s 1911-1914 Australasian Antarctic Exploring Expedition.   The voyage described here is that of 1912-1913, which was sailing to Cape Dennison Adelie Land Antarctica to bring the expeditioners back to Australia.
Part 1 details the start of the voyage travelling from Williamstown Wharf in Melbourne to Port Kembla for coal, then to Hobart, Auckland Island, MacQuarie Island and back to Hobart.
The scan of each page is accompanied by a transcription of the words for ease of reading. This document remains the property of Stanley Taylor’s family and their descendants. Readers are welcome to read, study and share the document, but it may not be used for commercial or financial gain. Copying is permitted provided that the source is cited. © 2011 Irene Gale
Dad's Diary cover by SpearLily
Dr Duglas Mawson’s
        Australian Antarctic
                     Exploring Expedition
                     S.G.R. Taylor
                                299 Hoddle St
S.Y. Aurora
Dr. Douglas Mawson, Explorer;

Mr. John King Davis, Captain;   Mr. Fletcher, Chief Officer;    Mr. Grey, N.O.;
Mr De La Mott, 3rd Officer;      Mr Gillies, Chief Engineer;
Mr. Maxfield, 2nd Engineer;        Mr. E Adams, B’swain;
Mr. A Thompson, Donkeyman;      Mr. J Forbes, Sailmaker;
Firemen: Mr. S. G. R. Taylor,    Mr. R Bradley,     Mr. Alf Kohler
A.Bs: Mr. J Dochertey,   Mr. Hackworth,   Mr. O. McNeil?   Mr. A. Schroder,
Mr. B. Lincoln,    Mr. L. Vinje
Marconi Operator Mr. Jeffries         Whaling Capt. Mr. Davis
Assistant Steersman Mr G. Taylor           Sec. of A.A.E.E Mr. Eitel
Cook, S. Dobbs;    Chief Steward, G. Williams;     2nd Steward,  S

Route map by SpearLily
page 1 by SpearLily

SY Aurora

Captain John King Davis

Mr. Fletcher      Mr. Grey      De LaMott

Mr. Gillies      Mr. Maxwell

Crew   Donkeyman   Boatswain    Sailmaker

Three Firemen     SixA.B.’s

Two Stewards     One Cook     Me


== Diary ==

I signed on 30=10=1912 at Shipping Office Melbourne Victoria.

Joined ship at Williamstown Government Dockyard 31=10==1912

Williamstown Longitude 145E,     Latitude 37 South

Sailed from Williamstown noon Saturday 2=11=1912

Arrived at Port Kembla 6 o’clock AM

6=11=1912    Port Kembla   Longitude 151 East.    Latitude 35 South

Sailed from Port Kembla 7 PM

6=11=1912 Arrived at Hobart 5 O’clock PM

10=11=1912 Hobart    Longitude 147½ East,    Latitude 44½ S

Page 2 by SpearLily

Shipped on board Professor Flynn and his assistant Mr. Denny.   Two Professors of Science

Sailed from Hobart 4 O’clock PM 12=11=1912

13=11=1912   Sounding Trawl out 3000 Fathoms   Result nil.
8 AM   658 Fathoms        Noon    1500 Fathoms          Bottom Sandy

14=11=1912   Sounding                                                             Bottom
8 AM    2000 Fathoms                                                              White Clay
6 PM    1945  Fathoms                                                               Yellow  Clay
Lost two Chronometers

15=11=1912    Sounding                                                            Bottom
6 AM    794 Fathoms                                                                    Sandy
11 AM  666 Fathoms                                                                    Sandy
2 PM    700 Fathoms                                                                    Sandy
Fishing for Albatrosses but caught none .

16=11=1912   Weather too rough for sounding or Trawling

17=11=1912    2000 Fathoms after losing two lines.    Weather rough.

Page 3 by SpearLily

18=11=1912   Tried to get sounding but weather too rough.  Lost four lines. We weighed the coal with the result that she burned four and a half ton per day.

19=11=1912    Sounding       Lost line and six sinkers.
9 AM    2595 Fathoms        Weather calmer.

20=11=1912  Sounding                         Bottom                            Weather
10 AM   2880 Fathoms                           Sandy                             Moderate

21=11=1912   Sounding                        Bottom
6 AM    2462 Fathoms                            Rocky                        Put the trawl out.
2 PM    2640 Fathoms                            Rocky                             2700 Fathoms
7 PM   1405  Fathoms                            Rocky                                      10PM

22=11=1912   Sounding                      Bottom
8 AM   636 Fathoms                            Believed                     Hauled Trawl in 7.45 AM
10 AM 578  Fathoms                             to be
2 PM   1780 Fathoms                           Rocky                                    Result.  A lot of different species of jellyfish, one ordinary fish two feet long.   The Trawl net was severely torn also Iron frame two inches in diameter twisted like wire.

Page 4 by SpearLily

23=11=1912   Arrived at Macquarie Islands 7 PM
Macquarie Island   Longitude 159East,   Latitude 55South.
Laid at anchor till            24=11=1912

Sailed at 10 o’clock AM
2 PM   Sounding   180 Fathoms,  then from 3 PM till 6 PM we took sounding every quarter hour.    Average sounding 25 Fathoms
Arrived at Macquarie Island 6.30 PM

25=11=1912  Sounding                     Bottom                 Left Macquarie 10.30 AM.
Noon     1458 Fathoms                       Mud                         Light snowstorm lasting
2 PM    2745   Fathoms                  No bottom                 three hours in evening.

26=11=1912  Sounding                    Bottom
8 AM    1855 Fathoms                         Mud                                   Snowstorm in
2PM   2100 Fathoms                           Rock                                     forenoon.
Caught a crab 12″ diam.[30cms]      Wind and sea very rough towards night.

First time in my experience to see a ship roll her forecastle head under water, right to her capstan.

Page 5 by SpearLily

27=11=1912   Sounding   Noon 2585 Fathoms.    Bottom White clay.

Arrived off coast of Auckland Island 8 PM.    Steamed around coast all night.
Auckland Island   Longitude 166 East,    Latitude 51 South

28=11=1912   Sounding                          Bottom                   Let out cone shaped
8 AM   80 Fathoms                                    Sandy             diver for sample of bottom
10 AM 198 Fathoms                                 Sandy                   but received no result
Noon   250 Fathoms                                 Sandy                      from 1000 fathoms.
8 PM   81  Fathoms                                    Gravel

2 PM left coast of Auckland Island.     Weather very rough.

29=11=1912   Big seas running and terrific winds, too rough for sounding or trawling.

30=11=1912   Sounding   noon   1985 Fathoms, rocky bottom.
Sea and wind quieted down a little.

1=12=1912    Sounding   2 PM     2610 Fathoms.    Mud bottom.
Captain took photo of Sounding machine also Operators.

Dad's Diary p6 by SpearLily


3=12=1912    Weather too rough for sounding or trawling.    The ship absolutely buried under water.

4=12=1912   Sounding 4 PM   2700 Fathoms,   Clay bottom.
Weather calmer, rained at night.

5=12=1912   Sounding 6 PM   1017 Fathoms       Sandy.    Showery all day.

6=12=1912   Sounding 6 AM  1300 Fathoms      Rocky
Noon     1018  Fathoms           Rocky
8 PM        710  Fathoms           Rocky
8.15 PM 750  Fathoms           Rocky

7=12=1912   Sounding              Bottom
10 AM       570 Fathoms            Rocky
2 PM          818  Fathoms            Rocky

Trapped Albatross, 18ft tip to tip.   Chief Engineer tried patient with success, an instrument to give depth of water and bring up sample and temperature of water at bottom, also sample of earth at bottom.

Dad's Diary p7 by SpearLily

8=12=1912  Sounding                 Bottom                                Noon
8.30 AM   1094 Fathoms           Rock                                 Longitude 148o E
1 PM          935   Fathoms             Rock                                   Latitude 46oS
8 PM          859   Fathoms            Rock

9th & 10th 12=1912     Blowing a Gale,    Seas Terrific

11=12=1912  Sighted Tasmanian Coast daybreak.
Sounding                  Bottom
2 PM 1150 Fathoms        Rock                                             8PM Stopped engines
6 PM     75  Fathoms        Rock                                                   till following
8 PM  780  Fathoms        Rock                                                      morning.

12=12=1912   Sounding                Bottom
5 AM         1300 Fathoms                 Clay
3 PM          1300 Fathoms                 Clay                            Put trawl out 5 AM.
4.30 PM      75  Fathoms                  Sand                           Hauled it in 3 PM empty.

At 3 PM put on topmost speed towards the land.
4.30 PM put trawl out again & hauled it in 8 PM.
Result thousands of starfish, different species, also of the fish, three crabs largest on record.     Claws 19″ long.

We then got underway dead slow 8.45 PM.

Dad's Diary p8 by SpearLily

Sounding 6 AM.     600 Fathoms.     Clay bottom.    Let out trawl on 2000 fathoms of wire 6 AM.   Started to heave trawl in. 10 AM
Got half of it in when steam gear broke down, had to heave the rest in by hand. We got the trawl aboard 2.30 PM.
It had in it one fish two and a half feet long, body quarter of an inch diameter and large black round head.   Its mouth reached right round its head.   It also had very long sharp teeth, and its skin was thin shiny jet black.
There was also an Octopus with tentacles four and a half feet long, very large black eyes and a large black beak parrot shaped.   Its body and tentacles is like jelly, the body is three times as large and the shape of a football.
We also got in the net several different species of Sea weed, Sponges and Starfish.

We then got under way 2.45 PM.  Making out to sea off Tasman Island we took

Dad's Diary p9 by SpearLily

Sounding 8PM. 1890 Fathoms.    Rock bottom.   Weather warm.   Sea Calm.

Warrimoo passed us at 1 AM bound for Melbourne.
Maunganui passed 5 AM bound for Hobart.

[diagrams of trawl, fish and octopus]

Dad's Diary p10 by SpearLily

14 =12=1912     Arrived in Hobart 1.30 PM

One Comment leave one →
  1. 15/05/2013 8:32 PM

    that is cool

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: