January 2, 1914: Mawson’s Expedition Leaves the Antarctic Continent for Good

–from Douglas Mawson’s account “The Home of the Blizzard”—

The Australasian Antarctic Expedition finally departed December 23, 1913. “. . .the motor launch, with Madigan and Bickerton, sped away [from the Aurora anchored in Commonwealth Bay] for the last load through falling snow and a rising sea. Hodgeman had battened down the windows of the hut, and the chimney was stuffed with bagging, the veranda entrance closed with boards and, inside, an invitation was left for future visitors to occupy and make themselves at home. . . .

“During the night the wind rose and the barometer fell, while the air was filled with drifting snow. On the 24th—Christmas Eve—the velocity of the wind gradually increased to the seventies until at noon it blew with the strength of a hurricane. . . . . At lunch the anchor was found to be dragging and we commenced to drift before the hurricane. . . . The wind rose to a shriek in the shuddering gusts. The crests of the waves were cut off and swept away in fine spindrift. . . .

“On January 2, 1914, the wind having fallen off, the ship was brought to the south again. The mainland was sighted toward Cape Pepin and a stretch of high coast could be traced extending far away to the west—a greater length of coast than the Ship’s Party had seen in January 1912, and carrying the coast beyond the limits shown in D’Urville’s chart.”

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