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.
Wednesday 29th January 1913 The weather today is moderate, a little wind, the sun is out and it is quite warm.
I have been working and knocking about in just a singlet, no shirt or jersey on.
We picked up our anchor and left at 6.30 AM for to follow the coast line along to the East, to see if we can see anything [of] Dr. Mawson, and a party will set out tonight from the Camp to travel the whole distance if possible over the same route that Dr. Mawson should have travelled.
At 5 PM we were abreast of two very large bergs.
I should judge them to be one and a half and two and a half miles long.
I could not judge the width. They were a tremendous size.
We also passed four more at 10 PM and they looked simply grand.
At 11 PM as the last rays of the sun was sinking below the western horizon the new sun was rising over the eastern horizon, so that gives us about one hour’s dusk, but we can see on the ice plain. Towards midnight the wind was very cold. The temperature at midnight was 27°.
Thursday 30th January 1913 4 AM. We turned into an ice barrier and steamed through the ice into a river or sound which we steamed up.
Some places the face of the ice was between 200 & 300 feet high from the water’s edge. At eight o’c!ock AM we sent a kite up in the air.
We then started firing distress signal rockets now and again.
Just after ten o’c!ock AM a cross piece in the kite broke and it shot down into the water.
Just about the same time, we sighted a black spot on the ice inland and a long way ahead. I told the skipper. He had the engines set full ahead, but when we got close enough to make it out, we found it was only a hole in the ice.
We took a sounding at 12 o’clock, 340 Fathoms, rock bottom.
The temperature at 8 AM 27° at noon, 26°.
There is no land to be seen anywhere, nothing but ice and snow.
It was snowing nearly all the morning and the wind was bitterly cold.
The Chief Engineer made a box kite and tried it tonight, but it would not work, so he may have another try tomorrow.
This evening, the sound or river got wider, and we encountered some severe blizzards. When we see them in the distance, it minded me of a grass fire running before the
wind and a lot of smoke.
We see a large whale at 5 PM. At 9 PM we run into a lot of drift ice and at 11 PM we run into a dead end of this sound, so we turned back.
Friday 31st January 1913 The wind is pretty strong off the land and the sea is very choppy. It is pretty cold.
We see an iceberg this afternoon 1 PM about 400 feet long, 200 feet high.
That would be about 1400 feet below the surface of the water.
We keep bumping into drift ice and small bergs.
We see two more large bergs about 150 feet high, but the largest one we went alongside of it, so close that we could hit it with a piece of coal.
We sighted Adelie Land 8 PM and was abreast of it at 10 PM, but we just drifted about waiting till the following morning.