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Mawson Stories


These are a collection of stories and journals written by or about the early expeditioners at Mawson

Mawson 1962 Wintering Party © AAD      

Stories & photos are below and we encourage you to add to this page by sending in any anecdotes from your OWN time down South at Mawson. The more the merrier!! Send to


Syd Kirkby (Mawson 56, Mawson 60, Mawson 80) Surveyor and OIC

Photo by R. Butler

David Parer asks Syd Kirkby about his experiences in the Antarctic


Ian Landon-Smith (Mawson 62) Glaciologist

Photo by R. Butler

Ian Toohill chats with Ian Landon-Smith about his experiences in the Antarctic


Robert Merrick (Mawson 60) Geophysicist

Photo by R. Butler

Ian Toohill chats with Robert Merrick about his experiences in the Antarctic


Andrew Turk (Mawson Summer 73/74) Surveyor

Photo by A. Ryan

Liz Parer-Cook talks with Andrew Turk about some of his experiences in the Antarctic


RAAF Base Mawson
Compiled by Brendan Godwin

They were simply called Antarctic Flight. Not No. 1 Antarctic Flight or 1 AF as is traditional with the naming of Air Force units. The Air Force use No’s and acronyms for most of their units but 1 AF is an acronym for something else on the RAAF acronym list.


Nightwatchman - Law Hut 1960
Compiled by George Creswell

The job of nightwatchman started in the afternoon at the toilet hut, known as Law Hut, named after, but certainly not by, nor in the presence of, the ANARE director, Dr Philip Law. It is worth describing this building, the only toilet for the whole station, and there is no point in avoiding details that would normally be judged unseemly.


By David Parer & Elizabeth Parer-Cook

After service in WW2 and Korea, pilot, Peter Clemence wintered at Mawson during the IGY in 1957 with the RAAF Flight team. He flew hundreds of hours of exploration and mapping in the mountains up to 1200 kilometres from the station. He returned to Mawson over four more summers from 1970 as a commercial helicopter pilot to continue the work. Peter is a legend of Antarctic aviation.


By Rod Johns

Rod is an avid collector of Antarctic cloth badges who is always on the lookout for more to fill the many gaps in his collection.


By 2008 Mawson Team

The Brotherhood movement is taking off amongst the team. After an evening movie viewing of "They Call Me Trinity" (a spaghetti western) followed by "Trinity is Still My Name", the males on station shaved their beards into an Amish style. A few of the females are wearing beards from the dress-up collection. The team are now calling each other "brothers" and performing the "secret brotherhood handshake".


By Ian McLeod

Geologist, Ian McLeod, relates how type written sheets headed 'THE MAWSON MAIZE' appeared mysteriously on the stations notice board on weekly film nights. They contained mini-reports referring to recent happenings on the base. Their author remained a mystery until years end.


Australia's Antarctic Rebuilding Program at Mawson 1979 - 1987
By Bob McEwan

In 1981 Bob McEwan, Chief Structural Engineer of the Australian Construction Services, formed a team of engineers and established a research program to design and construct new building at Australia's three continental stations. The oldest station was Mawson where some of the huts dated back to the 1940's. They were small, lacked privacy and a fire risk. Bob spent two summers down south supervising the work, and oversaw the whole project.


By Ian Bird

Electronics Engineer, Ian Bird tells the story of his spring traverse into the Southern Prince Charles Mountains with geologist Rick Ruker and Senior Diesel Mechanic Neville "Gringo" Collins to map and collect geology samples. For the 22-year-old Bird it was the adventure of a lifetime. His job was to maintain communications with Mawson, and help run the dog teams.


MAWSON 1961-1963

By Ian McNaughton

Cosray Physicist, Ian McNaughton recounts what living & working in the Antarctic was like during his 18 months down South at Mawson from 24 Jan 1961 - 18 Mar 1962 & Dec 1962 - Mar 1963. He describes his job, a brain operation, visits from the Russians, dog trips and helicopter travel with numerous photographs and some maps.


Mawson to Enderby Land, 1974

By Dave Luders

OIC, Dave Luders recounts a traverse to Enderby Land in 1974 to set up a base camp for the 1974/5 summer operations. He describes navigating by astrocompass, blizzards, temperatures of -30 degrees for weeks on end, tractors breaking through snowbridges, crevasses, Knuckey Peaks and more - a high point of his 1974 winter.
The story includes photographs and a map of the traverse undertaken.