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Mawson Traverse Newsletter
This month saw the arrival of the traverse party from Mount King to Mawson. The eight members comprising the team spent thirty seven days en route, and even managed to travel on twenty of them, with the remaining seventeen in blizzard days. On one occasion they were immobilised for ten days at a stretch due to bad weather.
The journey started with three tractors, with another to be picked up on the way where it had been depoted earlier in the year. Temperatures were constantly between minus 20 and minus 40 which made it a difficult task to start both humans and tractors in the morning, with freezing fuel lines being a frequent problem. "Brutus" (David Blaby) the leader, and Diesel Mechanic, had us going at every opportunity, with "Rusty" (Robert Yost), the other Dieso, ably assisting with repairs. "Radish" (Tom Maggs) kept us in touch with Mawson by radio and kept the other members good humoured with a little wit now and then. (Is that meant to be "with little wit" or "with a little wit" ? – Ed) "Father" (Brian Ball), although the most senior member, had his task cut out to keep "Jumbo" (no – not the tractor, but Graham Pryde) in line, quite an effort in itself. If not lying on the ground, "Jumbo" was simplifying any electronics he could get his hands on. The working whirlwind, "Snoopy" (Garry Hardie) never stopped except to referee occasional tiffs between "Father" and "Jumbo", being impartial most of the time.
On all traverses there is one: a boffin of course, and we were fortunately or unfortunately stuck with "Big Daddy" (Brian Gaull). His main function seemed to be to hold up the traverse to obtain magnetic readings at selected positions, and also to add a little humour to our lives along the way. There was only one person who knew where he was almost all the time, none other than the Navigator, "weather" (Robert Schahinger).
Although we all had our own tasks to do, we shared the driving and menial chores, by no means the easiest on traverse.
All tractors, Loretto, Monica, Jumbo and "Wee Cannonball" performed well considering the loads to be hauled.
Apart from little Cannonball, which made a great effort and towed almost as much as her large counterparts until she fell exhausted two thirds of the way home, we had only minor mechanical problems.
The weather was kind to us on the last day and what a joyous welcome we had. We were all relieved and elated that we had no major problem on our 620 kilometre traverse.