January 19, 1913: The Aurora breaks through the pack

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

{The expedition ship Aurora had picked up the men of Mawson’s expedition at Commonwealth Bay and was now on the homeward passage.] “The morning of January 16 found us in the neighborhood of Queen Mary Land skirting heavy pack-ice more formidable than any met with in that locality on preceding voyages, boding ill for our chances of reaching the open waters of the Davis Sea where we hoped to conduct investigations. Many petrels flew around and resting on the pack at its margin were dark swarms of terns which, from time to time, startled by the approach of the ship, rose in great flocks. . . .Presently, through the perfectly still air, the unmistakable blast of finner whales could be heard.

“At 10m p.m. on the 19th there was dense pack ahead, but beyond it, on the horizon, a dark line of open water was visible. From the crow’s-nest it was seen to the south stretching east and west within the belt of pack-ice—the Davis Sea. We had broken through the pack less than twenty-five miles north of where the Gauss had wintered.”

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