February 1912: Mawson’s preparations at Commonwealth Bay

–from his account “The Home of the Blizzard”–

“For several days in succession, about the middle of February, the otherwise continuous wind fell off to a calm for several hours in the evening.  On those occasions Mertz gave us some fine exhibitions of ski-ing, of which art he was a consummate master.  Skis had been provided in case we should have to traverse a country where the snow lay soft and deep.  From the outset, there was little chance of that being the case in wind-scoured Adelie Land.  Nevertheless, most of the men seized a few opportunities we had to become practiced in their use.

“The end of February approached.  We were fully prepared for sledging, and were looking forward to it with great expectation.  The wind still continued, often rising to the force of a hurricane.

“One evening, when we were all at dinner, there was a sudden noise which drowned the rush of the blizzard.  It was found that several sledges had been blown away from their comparatively secure positions to the south of the hut, striking the building as they passed.  They were all rescued except one, which had already reached the sea and was traveling rapidly toward Australia.”

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