THROUGH ANOTHER YEAR
by G. F. Ainsworth
We had now thrown a year behind and the work we
set out to accomplish was almost finished; so it was with pleasurable
feelings that we took up the burden of completion, looking forward
to the arrival of April 1913 which should bring us final relief
and the prospects of civilisation. I shall deal with the first three
months of the year as one period, since almost all the field-work,
except photography, had been done, and, after the return of Blake
and Hamilton from Lusitania Bay on January 8, our life was one of
routine; much time being devoted to packing and labelling specimens
in anticipation of departure.
The first business of the year
was to overhaul the wireless station, and on the 6th, Sawyer, Sandell
and I spent the day laying in a supply of benzine from Aerial Cove,
changing worn ropes, tightening stay-wires, straightening the southern
masts and finally hauling the aerial taut. These duties necessitated
much use of the ``handy billy,'' and one has but to form
an acquaintance with this desirable ``person'' to thoroughly
appreciate his value.
Blake and Hamilton returned on January
8 and reported that their work was finished at the southern end.
Thenceforth they intended to devote their time to finishing what
remained to be done at the northern end and in adding to their collections.
Blake, for instance, resolved to finish his chart of the island,
and, if time permitted, to make a topographical survey of the locality,
as it was of great geological interest. Hamilton made the discovery
that a number of bird specimens he had packed away were mildewed,
and as a result he was compelled to overhaul the whole lot and attend
to them. He found another colony of mutton birds on North Head,
the existence of which was quite unexpected till he dug one out
of a burrow thought to contain ``night-birds.''
the middle of January I endeavoured to do a little meteorological
work with the aid of some box-kites nanufactured by Sandell. But
though a number of them were induced to fly, we had no success in
getting them up with the instruments attached. They all had a habit
of suddenly losing equilibrium and then indulging in a series of
rapid dives and plunges which usually ended in total wreckage.
The `Rachel Cohen' again visited the island on January 26,
but this time she anchored off ``The Nuggets,'' whither
the sealers had gone to live during the penguin season. We could
see the ship lying about a mile offshore, and walked down to get
our mails and anything else she had brought along for us. I received
a letter from the Secretary of the Expedition saying that he had
made arrangements for us to return by the `Rachel Cohen' early
in April, and the news caused a little excitement, being the only
definite information we had had concerning relief.
of the first month found Blake and Hamilton both very busy in making
suitable boxes for specimens. Many of the larger birds could not
be packed in ordinary cases, so Hamilton had to make specially large
ones to accommodate them, and Blake's rock specimens being very
heavy, extra strong boxes had to be made, always keeping in view
the fact that each was to weigh not more than eighty pounds, so
as to ensure convenient handling.
After a silence of about
four months, we again heard Adelie Land on February 3, but the same
old trouble existed, that is, they could not hear us. Sawyer called
them again and again, getting no reply, but we reckoned that conditions
would improve in a few weeks, as the hours of darkness increased.
Hamilton and I made a trip to the hill-tops on the 4th for the
purpose of taking a series of plant and earth temperatures which
were of interest biologically, and while there I took the opportunity
of obtaining temperatures in all the lakes we saw. Hamilton also
took some panoramic photographs from the various eminences and all
of them turned out well.
During the evening Adelie Land sent
out a message saying that Dr. Mawson had not yet returned to the
Base from his sledging trip and Sawyer received it without difficulty,
but though he ``pounded away'' in return for a considerable
time, he was not heard, as no reply or acknowledgment was made.
The `Rachel Cohen' remained till the 5th, when a northerly
gale arose and drove her away. As she had a good cargo of oil on
board no one expected her to return. We had sent our mail on board
several days previously as experience had shown us that the sailing
date of ships visiting the island was very uncertain.
met with a slight though painful accident on the 7th. He was starting
the engine, when it ``backfired'' and the handle flying
off with great force struck him on the face, inflicting a couple
of nasty cuts, loosening several teeth, and lacerating the inside
of his cheek. A black eye appeared in a day or two and his face
swelled considerably, but nothing serious supervened. In a few days
the swelling had subsided and any anxiety we felt was at an end.
We now had only two sheep left, and on the 8th Blake and
I went to kill one. Mac accompanied us. Seeing the sheep running
away, she immediately set off after them, notwithstanding our threats,
yells and curses. They disappeared over a spur, but shortly afterwards
Mac returned, and, being severely thrashed, immediately left for
home. We looked for the sheep during the rest of the day but could
find no trace of them, and though we searched for many days it was
not till five weeks had elapsed that we discovered them on a small
``landing'' about half-way down the face of the cliff. They
had apparently rushed over the edge and, rolling down, had finally
come to a stop on the ledge where they were found later, alive and
On the 8th Adelie Land was heard by us calling the
`Aurora' to return at once and pick up the rest of the party,
stating also that Lieutenant Ninnis and Dr. Mertz were dead. All
of us were shocked at the grievous intelligence and every effort
was made by Sawyer to call up Adelie Land, but without success.
On the following day we received news from Australia of the
disaster to Captain Scott's party.
Blake, who was now
geologizing and doing topographical work, discovered several lignite
seams in the hills on the east coast; he had finished his chart
of the island. The mainland is simply a range of mountains which
have been at some remote period partly submerged. The land meets
the sea in steep cliffs and bold headlands, whose general height
is from five hundred to seven hundred feet, with many peaks ranging
from nine hundred and fifty to one thousand four hundred and twenty
feet, the latter being the height of Mount Hamilton, which rears
up just at the back of Lusitania Bay. Evidence of extreme glaciation
is everywhere apparent, and numerous tarns and lakes are scattered
amongst the hills, the tops of which are barren, wind-swept and
weather-worn. The hill sides are deeply scored by ravines, down
which tumble small streams, forming cascades at intervals on their
hurried journey towards the ocean. Some of these streams do not
reach the sea immediately, but disappear in the loose shingly beaches
of peaty swamps. The west coast is particularly rugged, and throughout
its length is strewn wreckage of various kinds, some of which is
now one hundred yards from the water's edge. Very few stretches
of what may be called ``beach'' occur on the island;
the foreshores consisting for the most part of huge water-worn boulders
or loose gravel and shingle, across which progress is slow and difficult.
A Section across Macquarie Island through
Apparently the ground shelves very rapidly under
the water, as a sounding of over two thousand fathoms was obtained
by the `Aurora' at a distance of eight miles from the east coast.
The trend of the island is about eleven degrees from true north;
the axis lying north by east to south by west. At either end are
the island-groups already referred to, and their connexion with
the mainland may be traced by the sunken rocks indicated by the
breaking seas on the line of reef.
A very severe storm about
the middle of the month worked up a tremendous sea, which was responsible
for piling hundreds of tons of kelp on the shore, and for several
days tangled masses could be seen drifting about like small floating
On the 20th an event occurred to which we had long
looked forward, and which was now eagerly welcomed. Communication
was established with the Main Base in Adelie Land by wireless! A
message was received from Dr. Mawson confirming the deaths of Ninnis
and Mertz, and stating that the `Aurora' had not picked up the
whole party. Sawyer had a short talk with Jeffryes, the Adelie Land
operator, and among other scraps of news told him we were all well.
Hamilton killed a sea elephant on the 22nd. The animal was a
little over seventeen feet long and thirteen and a half feet in
girth just at the back of the flippers, while the total weight was
more than four tons. It took Hamilton about a day to complete the
skinning, and, during the process, the huge brute had to be twice
turned over, but such is the value of the nautical handy-billy that
two men managed it rather easily. When the skin had been removed,
five of us dragged it to the sealers' blubber-shed, where it
was salted, spread out, and left to cure.
We had communication
with Adelie Land again on the 26th, and messages were sent and received
by both stations. Dr. Mawson wirelessed to the effect that the `Aurora'
would, after picking up Wild's party, make an attempt to return
to Adelie Land if conditions were at all favourable.
that provisions were running rather short on the last day of February,
we reduced ourselves to an allowance of one pound of sugar per week
each, which was weighed out every Thursday. Altogether there were
only forty-five pounds remaining. Thenceforth it was the custom
for each to bring his sugar-tin to the table every meal. The arrangement
had its drawbacks, inasmuch as no sugar was available for cooking
unless a levy were made. Thus puddings became rarities, because
most of us preferred to use the sugar in tea or coffee.
came blustering in, accompanied by a sixty-four-mile gale which
did damage to the extent of blowing down our annexe, tearing the
tarpaulin off the stores at the back and ripping the spouting off
the Shack. A high sea arose and the conformation of the beach on
the north-western side of the isthmus was completely changed. Numbers
of sea elephants' tusks and bones were revealed, which had remained
buried in the shingle probably for many years, and heaps of kelp
were piled up where before there had been clean, stony beach. Kelp
is a very tough weed, but after being washed up and exposed to the
air for a few days, begins to decay, giving forth a most disagreeable
At this time we caught numerous small fish amongst
the rocks at the water's edge with a hand line about four feet
long. It was simply a matter of dropping in the line, watching the
victim trifle with destiny and hauling him in at the precise moment.
Wireless business was now being done nightly with Adelie Land,
and on the 7th I received a message from Dr. Mawson saying that
the party would in all probability be down there for another season,
and stating the necessity for keeping Macquarie Island station going
till the end of the year. This message I read out to the men, and
gave them a week in which to view the matter. The alternatives were
to return in April or to remain till the end of the year.
I went through the whole of the stores on the 10th, and found
that the only commodities upon which we would have to draw sparingly
were milk, sugar, kerosene, meats and coal. The flour would last
till May, but the butter allowance would have to be reduced to three
pounds per week.
It was on the 12th that we found the lost
sheep, but as we had some wekas, sufficient to last us for several
days, I did not kill one till the 15th. On that day four of us went
down towards the ledge where they were standing, and shot one, which
immediately toppled off and rolled down some distance into the tussock,
the other one leaping after it without hesitation. While Blake and
Hamilton skinned the dead sheep, Sandell and I caught the other
and tethered it at the bottom of the hill amongst a patch of Maori
cabbage, as we thought it would probably get lost if left to roam
loose. However, on going to the spot next day, the sheep was nearly
dead, having got tangled up in the rope. So we let it go free, only
to lose the animal a day or two later, for it fell into a bog and
On March 22 a lunar eclipse occurred, contact lasting
a little over three hours from 9.45 P.M. till within a few minutes
of 1 A.M. on the 23rd. The period of total eclipse was quite a lengthy
one, and during the time it lasted the darkness was intense. Cloud
interfered for a while with our observations in the total stage.
No coronal effect was noted, though a pulsating nebulous area appeared
in front of the moon just before contact.
A message came
on the 27th saying that the `Rachel Cohen' was sailing for Macquarie
Island on May 2, and would bring supplies as well as take back the
men who wished to be relieved, and this was forwarded in turn to
He replied, saying that the `Aurora' would
pick us up about the middle of November and convey us to Antarctica,
thence returning to Australia; but if any member wished to return
by the `Rachel Cohen' he could do so, though notification would
have to be given, in order to allow of substitutes being appointed.
All the members of the party elected to stay, and I asked each man
to give an outline of the work he intended to pursue during the
During March strong winds were recorded
on fourteen days, reaching gale- force on six occasions. The gale
at the beginning of the month was the strongest we had experienced,
the velocity at 5.40 A.M. on the 1st reaching sixty-four miles per
hour. Precipitation occurred on twenty- six days and the average
amount of cloud was 85 per cent. A bright auroral display took place
on the 6th, lasting from 11.20 till 11.45 P.M. It assumed the usual
arch-form stretching from the south-east to south- west, and streamers
and shafts of light could be observed pulsating upwards towards
We now started on what might be called the second
stage of our existence on the island. In the preceding pages I have
endeavoured to give some idea of what happened during what was to
have been our full period; but unforeseen circumstances compelled
us to extend our stay for eight months more, until the `Aurora'
came to relieve us in November. As the routine was similar in a
good many respects to that which we had just gone through, I shall
now refer to only the more salient features of our life.
The loyalty of my fellows was undoubted, and though any of them
could have returned if he had felt so inclined, I am proud to say
that they all decided to see it through. When one has looked forward
hopefully to better social conditions, more comfortable surroundings
and reunion with friends, it gives him a slight shock to find that
the door has been slammed, so to speak, for another twelve months.
Nevertheless, we all found that a strain of philosophy smoothed
out the rough realities, and in a short time were facing the situation
with composure, if not actual contentment.
We decided now
to effect a few improvements round about our abode, and all set
to work carrying gravel from the beach to put down in front of the
Shack, installing a sink-system to carry any waste water, fixing
the leaking roof and finally closing up the space between the lining
and the wall to keep out the rats.
We expected the `Rachel
Cohen' to leave Hobart with our stores on May 2, and reckoned
that the voyage would occupy two weeks. Thus, it would be six weeks
before she arrived. I was therefore compelled on the 10th to reduce
the sugar allowance to half a pound per week. We were now taking
it in turns to go once a week and get some wekas, and it was always
possible to secure about a dozen, which provided sufficient meat
for three dinners. Breakfast consisted generally of fish, which
we caught, or sea elephant in some form, whilst we had tinned fish
Sandell installed a telephone service between
the Shack and the wireless station about the middle of April, the
parts all being made by himself; and it was certainly an ingenious
and valuable contrivance. I, in particular, learned to appreciate
the convenience of it as time went on. The buzzer was fixed on the
wall close to the head of my bunk and I could be called any time
during the night from the wireless station, thus rendering it possible
to reply to communications without loss of time. Further, during
the winter nights, when auroral observations had to be made, I could
retire if nothing showed during the early part of the night,
leaving it to Sandell, who worked till 2 or 3 A.M. to call me if
any manifestation occurred.
We had heavy gales from the 12th
to the 17th inclusive, the force of the wind during the period frequently
exceeding fifty miles per hour, and, on the first-mentioned date,
the barometer fell to 27.8 inches. The usual terrific seas accompanied
Finding that there were only eight blocks of
coal left, I reduced the weekly allowance to one. We had a good
supply of tapioca, but neither rice nor sago, and as the sealers
had some of the latter two, but none of the former, we made an exchange
to the extent of twelve pounds of tapioca for eight pounds of rice
and some sago. Only fifteen pounds of butter remained on the 20th,
and I divided this equally, as it was now one of the luxuries, and
each man could use his own discretion in eating it. As it was nearing
the end of April, and no further word concerning the movements of
the `Rachel Cohen' had been received, I wirelessed asking to
be immediately advised of the exact date of the vessel's departure.
A reply came that the ship would definitely reach us within two
months. I answered, saying we could wait two months, but certainly
With a view to varying the menu a little, Blake
and I took Mac up on the hills on April 26 to get some rabbits and,
after tramping for about six hours, we returned with seven. In our
wanderings we visited the penguin rookeries at ``The Nuggets,''
and one solitary bird sat in the centre of the vast area which had
so lately been a scene of much noise and contention.
1 I took an inventory of the stores and found that they would last
for two months if economically used. Of course, I placed confidence
in the statement that the `Rachel Cohen' would reach the island
within that time.
With the coming of May wintry conditions set in,
and at the end of the first week the migrants had deserted our uninviting
island. Life with us went on much the same as usual, but the weather
was rather more severe than that during the previous year, and we
were confined to the Shack a good deal.
The sealers who were
still on the island had shifted back to the Hut at the north end
so that they were very close to us and frequently came over with
their dog in the evenings to have a yarn. The majority of them were
men who had ``knocked about'' the world and had known many
rough, adventurous years. One of them in particular was rather fluent,
and we were often entertained from his endless repertoire of stories.
On the 23rd, finding that there were seventy-seven and a half
pounds of flour remaining, and ascertaining that the sealers could
let us have twenty-five pounds, if we ran short, I increased the
allowance for bread to twelve and a half pounds per week, and this,
when made up, gave each man two and three-quarter pounds of bread.
Our supply of oatmeal was very low, but in order to make it last
we now started using a mixture of oatmeal and sago for breakfast;
of course, without any milk or sugar.
Just about this time
Mac gave birth to six pups and could not help us in obtaining food.
She had done valuable service in this connexion, and the loss in
the foraging strength of the party was severely felt for several
weeks. She was particularly deadly in hunting rabbits and wekas,
and though the first-named were very scarce within a few miles of
the Shack, she always managed to unearth one or two somewhere. Hut-slippers
were made out of the rabbit skins and they were found to be a great
boon, one being able to sit down for a while without his feet ``going.''
June arrived and with it much rough, cold weather. A boat was
expected to come to our relief, at the very latest, by the 30th.
We had a very chilly period during the middle of the month, and
it was only by hand-feeding the ``jacket'' of the wireless
motor that any work could be done by the station, as the tank outside
was almost frozen solid.
The tide-gauge clock broke down
towards the end of the month, and though I tried for days to get
it going I was not successful. One of the springs had rusted very
badly as a result of the frequent ``duckings'' the clock
had experienced, and had become practically useless.
ascertained that the `Rachel Cohen' was still in Hobart, so
on the 23rd I wirelessed asking when the boat was to sail. The reply
came that the `Rachel Cohen' was leaving Hobart on Thursday,
Our supply of kerosene oil was exhausted by the
end of the month, despite the fact that the rule of ``lights out
at 1O P.M.'' had been observed for some time. Thus we were
obliged to use sea elephant oil in slush lamps. At first we simply
filled a tin with the oil and passed a rag through a cork floating
on the top, but a little ingenuity soon resulted in the production
of a lamp with three Burners and a handle. This was made by Sandell
out of an old tea-pot and one, two or three burners could be lit
as occasion demanded. During meal times the whole three burners
were used, but, as the oil smoked and smelt somewhat, we generally
blew out two as soon as the meal was finished. This was the ``general''
lamp, but each man had, as well, one of his own invention. Mine
was scornfully referred to as the ``house-boat,'' since
it consisted of a jam tin, which held the oil, standing in a herring
tin which caught the overflow.
At the end of June, Blake
and I surveyed all the penguin rookeries round about ``The Nuggets''
and, allowing a bird to the square foot, found that there must have
been about half a million birds in the area. The sealers kill birds
from these rookeries to the number of about one hundred and thirty
thousand yearly, so that it would seem reasonable to suppose that,
despite this fact, there must be an annual increase of about one
hundred thousand birds.
The end of the month arrived and, on making inquiries,
we found that there was no news of the `Rachel Cohen' having
left Hobart. We had enough flour to last a fortnight, and could
not get any from the sealers as they possessed only three weeks'
supply themselves. However, on July 8, Bauer came across and offered
to let us have some wheatmeal biscuits as they had a couple of hundredweights,
so I readily accepted twenty pounds of them. We now had soup twice
a day, and managed to make it fairly thick by adding sago and a
few lentils. Cornflour and hot water flavoured with cocoa made a
makeshift blanc-mange, and this, with sago and tapioca, constituted
our efforts towards dessert.
On the 12th I received a message
stating that the `Rachel Cohen' had sailed on July 7; news which
was joyfully received. We expected her to appear in ten or twelve
On the 18th we used the last ounce of flour in a small
batch of bread, having fully expected the ship to arrive before
we had finished it. Next day Bauer lent us ten pounds of oatmeal
and showed us how to make oatmeal cakes. We tried some and they
were a complete success, though they consisted largely of tapioca,
and, according to the respective amounts used, should rather have
been called tapioca cakes.
When the 22nd arrived and no ship
showed up, I went across to see what the sealers thought of the
matter, and found that they all were of opinion that she had been
blown away to the eastward of the island, and might take a considerable
time to ``make'' back.
On this date we came to the
end of our meats, which I had been dealing out in a very sparing
manner, just to provide a change from sea elephant and weka. We
had now to subsist upon what we managed to catch. There were still
thirty-five tins of soup, of which only two tins a day were used,
so that there was sufficient for a few weeks. But we found ourselves
running short of some commodity each day, and after the 23rd reckoned
to be without bread and biscuit.
At this juncture many heavy
blows were experienced, and on the 24th a fifty-mile gale accompanied
by a tremendous sea beat down on us, giving the `Rachel Cohen'
a very poor chance of ``making'' the island. Our last tin
of fruit was eaten; twelve tins having lasted us since March 31,
and I also shared the remaining ten biscuits amongst the men on
the 24th. We were short of bread, flour, biscuits, meats, fish,
jam, sugar and milk, but had twenty tins of French beans, thirty
tins of cornflour, some tapioca, and thirty tins of soup, as well
as tea, coffee and cocoa in abundance. We had not been able to catch
any fish for some days as the weather had been too rough, and, further,
they appeared to leave the coasts during the very cold weather.
Sea elephants were very scarce, and we invariably had to walk
some distance in order to get one; each man taking it in turn to
go out with a companion and carry home enough meat for our requirements.
We were now eating sea elephant meat three times a day (all the
penguins having migrated) and our appetites were very keen. The
routine work was carried on, though a great deal of time was occupied
in getting food.
Bauer very generously offered to share his
biscuits with us, but we fellows, while appreciating the spirit
which prompted the offer, unanimously declined to accept them. We
now concluded that something had happened to the ship, as at the
end of July she had been twenty- four days out.
3 we had a sixty-three-mile gale and between 1 and 2 A.M. the velocity
of the wind frequently exceeded fifty miles per hour. Needless to
say there was a mountainous sea running, and the Rachel Cohen, if
she had been anywhere in the vicinity, would have had a perilous
A message came to me on August 6 from the Secretary
of the Expedition, saying that the `Rachel Cohen' had returned
to New Zealand badly damaged, and that he was endeavouring to send
us relief as soon as possible. I replied, telling him that our food-supply
was done, but that otherwise we were a l right and no uneasiness
need be felt, though we wished to be relieved as soon as possible.
Splendid news came along on the 9th to the effect that the New
Zealand Government's steamer `Tutanekai' would tranship
our stores from the `Rachel Cohen' on the 15th and sail direct
for the island.
Sawyer now became ill and desired me to make
arrangements for his return. I accordingly wired to the Secretary,
who replied asking if we could manage without an operator. After
consulting Sandell, I answered that Sandell and I together could
manage to run the wireless station.
Everybody now looked
forward eagerly to the arrival of the `Tutanekai', but things
went on as before. We found ourselves with nothing but sea elephant
meat and sago, with a pound-tin of French beans once a week and
two ounces of oatmeal every morning.
We heard that the Tutanekai
did not leave as expected on the 15th, but sailed on the afternoon
of the 17th, and was coming straight to Macquarie Island. She was
equipped with a wireless telegraphy outfit, which enabled us on
the 18th to get in touch with her; the operator on board stating
that they would reach us early on
the morning of the 20th.
On the evening of the 19th we gave Sawyer a send-off dinner;
surely the poorest thing of its kind, as far as eatables were concerned,
that has ever been tendered to any one. The fare consisted of sea
elephant's tongue ``straight,'' after which a bottle
of claret was cracked and we drank heartily to his future prosperity.
At 7.30 A.M. on the 20th the `Tutanekai' was observed coming
up the east coast, and as we had ``elephanted'' at 6 A.M.
we were ready to face the day. I went across to the sealers'
hut and accompanied Bauer in the launch to the ship, which lay at
anchor about a mile from the shore. We scrambled on board, where
I met Captain Bollons. He received me most courteously, and, after
discussing several matters, suggested landing the stores straight
away. I got into the launch to return to the shore, but the wind
had freshened and was soon blowing a fresh gale. Still, Bauer thought
we should have no difficulty and we pushed off from the ship. The
engine of the launch failed after we had gone a few yards, the boat
was blown rapidly down the coast, and we were eventually thrown
out into the surf at ``The Nuggets.'' The Captain, who witnessed
our plight, sent his launch in pursuit of us, but its engines also
failed. It now became necessary for the crew of the whale-boat to
go to the assistance of the launch. However, they could do nothing
against the wind, and, in the end, the ship herself got up anchor,
gave the two boats a line and towed them back to the former anchorage.
The work of unloading now commenced, though a fairly heavy surf
was running. But the whaleboat of the `Tutanekai' was so dexterously
handled by the boatswain that most of our stores were landed during
Sawyer went on board the `Tutanekai' in the
afternoon, thus severing his connexion with the Expedition, after
having been with us on the island since December 1911. On the following
morning, some sheep, coal and flour were landed, and, with a whistled
good-bye, the `Tutanekai' started north on her visit to other
Our short period of stress was over and we all felt
glad. From that time onwards we ate no more elephant meat ``straight.''
A sheep was killed just as the `Tutanekai' left, and we had
roast mutton, scones, butter, jam, fruit and rice for tea. It was
a rare treat.
All the stores were now brought up from the
landing-place, and as I had put up several extra shelves some weeks
previously, plenty of room was found for all the perishable commodities
inside the Shack.
The beginning of September found me fairly
busy. In addition to the meteorological work, the results of which
were always kept reduced and entered up, I had to work on Wireless
Hill during the evening and make auroral observations on any night
during which there was a display, attending to the stores and taking
the week of cooking as it came along.
Blake and Hamilton
went down the island for several days on September 3, since they
had some special observations to make in the vicinity of Sandy Bay.
The sea elephant season was now in progress, and many rookeries
were well formed by the middle of the month. The skuas had returned,
and on the 19th the advance-guard of the Royal penguins arrived.
The gentoos had established themselves in their old ``claims,''
and since the 12th we had been using their eggs for cooking.
Early in September time-signals were received from Melbourne,
and these were transmitted through to Adelie Land. This practice
was kept up throughout the month and in many cases the signals were
Blake and Hamilton returned to the Shack on
the 24th, but left again on the 30th, as they had some more photographic
work to do in the vicinity of Green Valley and Sandy Bay.
Blake made a special trip to Sandy Bay on October 30 to bring
back some geological specimens and other things he had left there,
but on reaching the spot found that the old hut had been burned
to the ground, apparently only a few hours before, since it was
still smouldering. Many articles were destroyed, among which were
two sleeping-bags, a sextant, gun, blankets, photographic plates,
bird specimens and articles of clothing. It was presumed that rats
had originated the fire from wax matches which had been left lying
on a small shelf.
On November 9 we heard that the `Aurora'
would leave Hobart on the 19th for Antarctica, picking us up on
the way and landing three men on the island to continue the wireless
and meteorological work.
We sighted the `Rachel Cohen'
bearing down on the island on November 18, and at 5.15 P.M. she
came to an anchorage in North-East Bay. She brought down the remainder
of our coal and some salt for Hamilton for the preservation of specimens.
On the next night it was learned that the `Aurora' had left
Hobart on her way South, expecting to reach us about the 28th, as
some sounding and dredging were being done en route.
now became very busy making preparations for departure. Time passed
very quickly, and November 28 dawned fine and bright. The `Rachel
Cohen', which had been lying in the bay loading oil, had her
full complement on board by 10 A.M., and shortly afterwards we
trooped across to say good-bye to Bauer and the other sealers, who
were all returning to Hobart. It was something of a coincidence
that they took their departure on the very day our ship was to arrive.
Their many acts of kindness towards us will ever be recalled by
the members of the party, and we look upon our harmonious neighbourly
association together with feelings of great pleasure.
look-out was then kept for signs of our own ship, but it was not
until 8 P.M. that Blake, who was up on the hill side, called out,
``Here she comes,'' and we climbed up to take in the goodly
sight. Just visible, away in the north-west, there was a line of
thin smoke, and in about half an hour the `Aurora' dropped anchor
in Hasselborough Bay.
XXVIII - THE HOMEWARD CRUISE