It was fascinating to learn about the publication of Frank Stillwell’s diaries last week.
The title of the Diaries is Still No Mawson: Frank Stillwell’s Antarctic Diaries 1911-13.
Frank was 23 years of age when he joined the Mawson expedition.
Bernadette Hince found his diaries in the archives of the Australian Academy of Science. Back in 2005 she wrote that:
Stillwell wrote almost daily, with occasional blank dates on days when he spent his spare time collecting and preparing a penguin skin, or gathering penguin eggs for cooking (over one three-week period, the men got some two and a half thousand eggs). Even on sledging journeys, he carried a small notebook and recorded the day’s events.
She adds that Frank Stillwell’s diaries:
are part of the most famous Australian journey of polar exploration and are of immense interest, both for the spine-chilling record of the weeks spent waiting for Mawson’s return, and for the detailed account of the domestic life of a group of young Australian men in an Antarctica hut, nearly a century ago.
There was a delightful serendipity in hearing of the publication of the Diaries.
Students in the Sport Coaching Pedagogy unit at the University of Canberra have been compiling their e-portfolios over the fourteen weeks of the Semester.
I pondered on the circumstances of these e-portfolios being developed and wondered if any of our students experienced what Frank did a century ago:
He and two companions were almost asphyxiated by carbon monoxide when they were staying in a snow shelter when they were out on a sledging trip. And it was only because one of the men realised in time what was happening and put his ice axe through the roof and made a small hole that they all blacked out then but they came to again.