Would you like to read a story that will remind you that you’re not having such a bad day?
Next time your train is pulling away from the station or the bus pulls away from the kerb just as you get there and you’re cursing the six whole minutes you have to wait for the next one, spare a thought for Sir Douglas Mawson.
He is the knighted explorer who famously survived a treacherous trek in Antartica only to miss being rescued by a matter of hours. He then had to wait patiently a whole extra year to get out!
Mawson and two colleagues went out to map the coastline and collect geological samples and had been gone for five weeks. Tragically, one of his research companions fell down a crevasse along with half a dozen dogs, their food rations and their tent. Major setback.
The two remaining men had enough supplies for a week so they immediately set course back to base. It wasn’t enough though and some of the dogs had to be eaten too. Turned out that that was the downfall for Mawson’s remaining colleague, because the high levels of Vitamin A in a Husky’s liver is toxic to humans. In a nut shell, he went mad and died, so Mawson was left alone, 100 miles from base.
He made it back, not before falling in a crevasse himself and having to winch himself out. Can you image how he felt when he got there only to realise that the boat that could take him back to civilisation had set sail only a few hour earlier?
Mawson had missed his rescue party by approximately five hours. Which when the wait for the next evacuation is another year away, that’s the modern day equivalent for having the train doors close on your fingers.
He had a fiancé back home and in missing the boat he reinvented the meaning of “I’ll be home late for dinner”.
It’s a remarkable story of survival, architecture, tenacity, patience and will to live. The hut that Mawson and his team built has been replicated on Hobart’s stunning Constitution Dock and is worth a visit for anyone with a sense of adventure and an interest in history. Admissions cost goes towards the restoration and maintenance of the original huts in Antartica.
Now, in the time that you’ve taken to read this, your next train has arrived.
Have a great day!