CHARLES TURNBULL HARRISSON -- AUSTRALASIAN ANTARCTIC EXPEDITION
Autograph sledging journal, Queen Mary Land, 22 August - 15 September and 26 September - 25 October 1912, IN PITMAN'S SHORTHAND, including six 'Sketches from Memory Eastern Depot Trip' (ff.26v, 26r), dated 19 October 1912, comprising 'Ascending the ledge of the "Hippo" Rock', 'How we came down the S. Eastern slope of the "Hippo"', 'A Sudden Squall - "Taken aback -" "Here we are again!"', 'Beware the awful avalanche!', 'A collapsed tent' and a depiction of the four stages of 'Navigation in a Blizzard': 'Hanging on to your anchors!', 'The anchor drags! & Capsizes' and 'Under reduced sail!', the journal altogether 148 pages, 8vo (covers worn and defective).
[With:] autograph sketch book (Walker's "Artist" Sketch Book No.1), 30 leaves with 29 pencil sketches by Harrisson, 30 Dec. 1911 - 12 Jan. 1913 (pages from 22 March 1912 - 12 Jan. 1913 numbered I-XX) and a loosely inserted sketch of S.Y. Aurora, the sketch book 30 leaves oblong 8vo (original green canvas boards, worn); three pen and ink 'Base 2' menus on AAE headed notepaper (18 April 1912, Birthday Dinner Mr Frank Wild, "The Grottoes" Shackleton-Glacier, the dinner including 'Essence of Seal's Flipper à la Mulligatawny'; 22 June 1912, Midwinter Day Dinner; and 27 June 1912 Birthday Dinner Mr A D Watson) illustrated by Harrisson, 205 x 254mm. and smaller; and a studio portrait photograph (postcard) of Harrisson, inscribed 'C.T. Harrisson/Taken in Decr 1911/Mrs Harrisson/Wentworth/Bellerive' on the reverse
The sledging journal describes two depot trips of Frank Wild's Western Party of the 1912 Australasian Antarctic Expedition. In the first depot journey (22 August - 15 September 1912), Harrisson, travelling with Wild in a six-man party, battled 84 miles against bitter weather conditions; the depot was left on 4 September, and the same evening an avalanche barely missed the tent (an incident depicted in one of Harrisson's drawings); the return was a desperate struggle against terrific winds which at one stage blew Harrisson clear over his expedition leader's head. On the second journey, Harrisson's five-man party, led by Evan Jones, was instructed to lay a depot as far west as possible: the expedition, with four weeks' rations, was away for five weeks, for 17 days of which they were tent-bound by blizzards. Their greatest distance from the hut was 45 miles over the ice floe, but, owing to the inaccessibility of the land ice, they were forced to plant their depot only 28 miles from home.
The sketchbook spans the whole of the Western Party's expedition, from its landing on the Shackleton Ice Shelf Queen Mary Land (2,410 km from Mawson's base at Cape Denison), in February 1912 until relief by the Aurora in February 1913, and provides a graphic and intimate record of life on the hazardous sledging journeys and at their base camp, where the party overwintered on an ice shelf on an unknown part of the Antarctic continent
Charles Harrisson, married and, at 43, the oldest member of the Australasian expedition, was taken on as a biologist and artist, and was originally intended to lead a third party of the expedition, in between Mawson's base at Cape Denison and Wild's Western Party. In the event, shortage of time forced the abandonment of the third party, and he joined Wild on the Shackleton Ice Shelf. The Western Party was landed on 20 February 1912 by the Aurora, whose Captain, J.K. Davis, summed them up in a jaundiced mood, 'Wild is a first class man and so is Harrisson. The rest are an indifferent lot and will not do anything startling, I think'. In fact, though plagued by the bad weather which also so hampered Mawson's main party, the Western Party, under Wild's imperturbable leadership, surveyed 350 miles of coastline, and carried out a broad scientific programme. They were retrieved by the Aurora on 23 February 1913.
Harrisson's AAE diary is in the Mitchell Library, Sydney and his AAE papers are in the Mawson Antarctic Collection, University of Adelaide. Harrisson lost his life when the Commonwealth Fisheries Steamer Endeavour foundered in December 1914. (6)