Hardly anyone knows we’ve got them. Ever since I saw the old black and white movie Scott of the Antarctic I’ve been fascinated with Antarctic exploration so to get a chance recently to research and document our sledges, which have been in the collection for over 50 years, was fantastic.
The sledge I found the most interesting was this one used on Sir Douglas Mawson’s 1911-1914 Australasian Antarctic Expedition. I found descriptions of the sledges and what they carried in Mawson’s account of the expedition in The Home of the Blizzard which was reprinted in 1996. Our sledge is still fitted with two storage boxes added by the expeditioners while waiting out the winter in Mawson’s famous hut.
Looking at our sledge and reading the book’s description was a bit like a checklist: box for the instruments at rear, check; box for the primus at front, check; tray for kerosene, check; deck of plywood on which to place the load, check; and leather straps for securing the load, check! Further research solved the mystery of the little chocks of wood attached in a semi-circle to the primus box. They held the Nansen cooker in place. Photos of sledges taken by Frank Hurley also provided great in-context images.
Post by Margaret Simpson, Curator