Date: 03 February 2013
Wind Speed: 8 knots
Temp with wind chill: -18C
The Antarctic Heritage Trust’s winter conservation Team 2013 has arrived on the ice with much excitement and is busy with inductions: handovers, field training and getting accustomed to the uniqueness of our new environment, including 24hr daylight (for a while, at least). Work on the artefacts brought in to Scott Base from Scott’s Terra Nova hut at Cape Evans by the outgoing summer team will soon begin in earnest.
As I prepared for my own first-time Antarctic experience as Lead Conservator, a previous Antarctic connection came to mind. It relates to Ernest Shackleton’s Endurance expedition, the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1914–17, on which the photographer was the renowned Frank Hurley.
Hurley's Endurance photos, 1915
My Sydney-born paternal grandmother had an association with the Hurley family and was governess for a time to Frank and Antoinette’s identical twin daughters, (Sidney) Adelie and Toni, who were born in 1919. As a result of this connection, we have ‘family photos’ that include a collection of outstanding large-format B&W photographic prints by Frank himself. Gifts to my grandmother, the images include a couple from the Shackleton expedition showing Endurance being crushed in pack ice in the Weddell Sea. Although well-known and much-published images, we are privileged to have original Hurley prints on our walls and I can only begin to imagine the wonderful tales that would have accompanied them … including, I’m sure, Frank’s tales of recovering his glass-plate negatives from beneath the icy waters before the sinking Endurance was finally lost and of later having to destroy and discard most of those plates during the long and arduous trek across the sea ice.
Outlook from Scott Base, 2013
And so with the utmost respect for all who have gone before, including Frank and others of the heroic era, we now begin our very own Antarctic winter-over experience with much anticipation.