What follows is a page by page copy of Stanley Gordon Roberts Taylor’s original diary of his voyage as a crewman on Steam Yacht (S.Y.) Aurora’s 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.
Well at 11 AM we sighted a flag on the ice barrier, we got as close to it as we could. At midday Mr. Wild and all his party were there waiting for us.
We hung a Jacobs ladder from our bowsprit and they came aboard as soon as they could reach it.
Previous to our running up to the ice Mr. Wild called for three cheers from his party for Captain Davis of the Aurora. Then we gave three cheers from the ship for Mr. Wild and his crew.
The Cinema photographer then called on Mr. Wild and his crew to give three cheers for a subject for his moving pictures.
As soon as the party came aboard three or four of us hopped over the side and buried two ice anchors, to one of which we made the ship’s bow fast and the other we made the stern fast.
I then rambled off to have a look at four very large seals, about 10 to 14 feet long. When I came back a Taxidermist asked me to give him a hand to catch some penguins. He caught one and I caught ten.
At first we tried to creep right up to them, but it took too long.
If we stood still they would come up to us about arm’s length off in hundreds, and stand there and look at us. Then we would drop in amongst them.
We would have to be quick and grab them one flipper in each hand, then sit on his back and ride him till he got tired. Then one holds while the other gets a pithing needle, shoves his beak in the snow, then puts
the needle in from the back of the skull bone and works the point about in his brain, being careful not to prick his eyes or any veins or sinews leading to the eyes, as if you do, the eyes bulge out and stretch the skin, spoiling it.
Well these penguins measure from 36 inches to 66 inches from the tip of the tail to the tip of the beak, and average 50 inches around the breast. They weigh from 70lbs. to 100 lbs. each, and there is from 20 to 30 lbs. of meat that can be eaten, and very nice it is too.
They are called Emperor Penguins. I carried all the lot of them over the ice a mile to the ship. I then give a hand to dig ice for the ship’s fresh water tank.
We have a little tank on the deck with steam coils in it for melting the ice.
We then connect a hose from it to our fresh water tank, and so let the water run off as it is melted. When we had sufficient aboard, about 6 of us took two sledges and towed them up the ice about 1½ miles then started them going and raced back to the ship when we got tired of that.
We caught Penguins and rode them. Some of them were as good as buckjumpers. There were one or two others beside myself that could stick on them. It was great sport, until one I got on was blind with rage, he was shooting all directions. I of course had to keep watching his head for as soon as he would turn his head I would have to balance my weight that way.
Well we finished our career by running into a great seal that was
asleep. The Penguin banged into his belly and sent me flying off the top of him and I could not stop myself sliding for a good hundred feet, and a good job too as the seal kicked and lashed out like mad.
He did not seem to appreciate being woke up of a sudden, after that we give the Penguins a rest.
We then started chasing the seals to the water and making them dive in, until we see five sledges making for the ship with stores and gear.
We had to make the ship too, to give a hand to get the gear aboard.
We got the last lot aboard 8.45 PM and were away at 8.50 PM after a grand day’s sport. I thoroughly enjoyed myself. My face, that part that was exposed was quiet sunburnt. I wondered at the other base when I see the party ashore there with the skin peeled off their face, but I do not wonder now after me getting sunburnt and I was only a few hours on the ice.
This is all floating ice that we tied up to, connected to the barrier. I am completely tired out after my day ashore I can hardly stand on my legs.
It is no easy matter to walk on the ice.
Mr. Wild had eight men with him and nine dogs. The men are all well and are returning with us but seven of the dogs have been eaten, the other two we have aboard.
The temperature was very mild today, on an average 18°, at midnight 16°.
Gaussberg is in about
Longitude 94° East, Latitude 66° South. 2031 miles from Melbourne.
During the afternoon we had a photo taken on the ice of about twelve of us drinking tea, with a Griffiths Tea box, also a placard. Painted on it was a railway signal post and “2031 miles to Griffiths Brothers Teas & Coffee“.
A very good advertisement.
Monday 24th February 1913
This morning was pretty chilly. The glass at 8 AM was down to 8° and midday was down to 6°. This afternoon I skinned a Penguin for myself, to be stuffed if possible, and a very difficult job it was too. I have the bones to do yet.
I skinned another one tonight for my mate, and am now very tired.
It was snowing very hard from 8 PM till midnight, and we are amongst thick pack ice. We will have a very difficult job to get through it. We have the engines going dead slow. The glass at midnight is still at 6°.
I am very tired now so I shall turn in.