There is a wooden cross on top of Observation Hill, that over
looks the American McMurdo Station, Ross Island, Antarctica.
January 1913, the cross commemorates Captain Scott and his party who lost their
lives on the return journey from the South Pole in March, 1912. It took two days
to carry the cross up to the top of the hill and bears the inscription:
In memoriam Cap. R. F. Scott, Dr. E. A. Wilson, Cap. L.
E. G. Oates, Lt. H. R. Bowers, Petty Officer E. Evans R.N.
Who died on the return from the South Pole March 1912.
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield…1
Before these modern times of air transport and support, GPS and Google maps,
explorers had to rely on their own knowledge, skills and abilities. Back in
1911, explorers to this region could not expect immediate help, as quite often,
those who ventured south faced hardship, extreme cold and death. Among these
were the Antarctic explorers Robert Falcon Scott, Ernest Shackleton and Roald
Amundsen, who although they may had have different aims, were never the less
equally brave men. Amundsen was an adventurer and with his expedition he wanted
to be the first man to the South Pole. Scott's expedition was scientific and
although he knew of Amundsen's presence in Antarctica, he refused to lower the
priority of his scientific research, just to be the first to the South Pole.
Scott wrote in his journal:
"One thing only fixes itself definitely in my mind. The proper, as
well as the wiser, course for us is to proceed exactly as though this had
not happened (the arrival of Amundsen in Antarctica). To go forward and do
our best for the honour o the country without fear or panic."
That was not Scott's first trip to Antarctica. The "Discovery Expedition" of
1901-1904 had Scott chosen to lead it by the joint Royal Society and Royal
Geographical Society Antarctic. It was the "Terra Nova Expedition" of 1910-1913
that was to prove fatal. Scott and his party were to reach the South Pole after
Amudsen, and it was the return trek that members of the party were to die. Evans
was to die first, followed by Oates. The weather was against them and Scott
wrote his last diary entry on the 29th March, 1912:
"Since the 21st we have had a continuous gale from W.S.W. and S.W. We
had fuel to make two cups of tea apiece and bare food for two days on the
20th. Every day we have been ready to start for our depot 11 miles away, but
outside the door of the tent it remains a scene of whirling drift. I do not
think we can hope for better things now. We shall stick it out to the end,
but we are getting weaker of course, and the end cannot be far. It seems a
pity but I do not think I can write more."
Scott, Wilson and Bowers were found frozen in their tent nearly 8 months
later on November 12, 1912.
Australian Government -
Australian Antarctic Division website lists
Australian tour operators for the Antarctic. For those planning to include
Macquarie Island World Heritage Area, information is available from the
Tasmania Parks & Wildlife Service.
Many thanks to Jennifer Cooke for sharing the story and images of
the wonderful tour she went on with Aurora Expeditions to Antarctica.
Source: Images courtesy of Jennifer Cooke