Ice Coffee: the history of human activity in Antarctica

In an epic episode spanning an hour and a half and featuring a singing leopard seal, blowing humpbacks and the tuneless honking of the penguins the residents of Little America and Bolling Advance Base and the various dog and half-track teams reconvene and get out of Dodge aboard the Jacob Ruppert and the Bear.

Direct download: 091_Little_america_Two_Finale.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:02am EDT

Byrd gets exactly what he asks for, what he deserves, and then saved, spoiling the symmetry of an otherwise well mapped story of hubris and punishment in the Greek myth mold. 

Direct download: 090_Little_America_two_part_three.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 11:22pm EDT

Byrd's second expedition re-colonises Byrd's first expedition's digs after lots of digging. 
Gentoo penguins under the hut floor provide ambience. 

Direct download: 089_Little_America_two_part_two.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 8:34am EDT

Two episodes in two days. 
Take that, incomprehensible download statistics.  Let's see me make sense of you now. 

Byrd returns south to finish...    something...  something brave and stirring and laudably scientific and humanitarian, no doubt.  Prolly work it out in payroll.  Or in a post-hoc rationalisation that will remain in publication for half a century. 

More importantly, I get to share music I love with you.
Egoism's song "What are we doing" rounds out this episode and I hope you're inspired to check out their offerings, available at

Direct download: 088_Little_America_two_part_one.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 7:14pm EDT

Iceolation and why it's not a big deal these days, a fourteen year old interview with Professor Timothy Naish, and an excuse to use my favourite quote from my favourite robot.

Direct download: 087_What_happens_on_the_ice_ANDRILL_go_boil_your_head_ed.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:37am EDT

Jeff Maynard returns to the dive hut to discuss the non-voyage of the Nautilus and we receive a visitation from the ghost of an Antarctic feline.
Then the sustained influence of James Wordie and the efforts of Gino Watkins get some attention to set the scene for further British efforts in the south. 
Oooh, foreshadowing and ghosts.  Woooooooooooo!

Direct download: 086_Wilkins_Watkins.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 9:41pm EDT

Lars Christensen funds extensive coastal exploration in concert with his whaling exploits.  A decade of Norwegian effort gets compressed into a single chagrined episode. 

Direct download: 085_Norwegians.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 7:23am EDT

The best acronym in Antarctic history draws to a close and Sir Douglas leaves the southern continent for the last time. 
Similarly the Discovery makes its final transit of the Southern Ocean.  |
Some errors of fact that warrant addenda pass into your ears. 

Direct download: 084_BANZAR_Mawson_comes_in_out_of_the_coaled.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:27pm EDT

The first BANZARE voyage plays out with much tension, flying and coal.

Direct download: 083_BANZARE_Mawson_needs_a_gin.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 5:24am EDT

Old Dux Ipse thought he was the ducks nuts but the BANZARE looks more a dog's breakfast than the dog's bollocks. 
Another not-a-race sees the Discovery racing south on its penultimate voyage. 
Sir Douglas Mawson and John King Davis get on each other's nerves ninety years ago. 

Direct download: 082_BANZARE_Mawson_rides_again.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:31am EDT

Three interviews with staff at Bransfield House, Port Lockroy, one with a descendant of Bartholomew Sulivan, second mate on the Beagle under Fitzroy and Falklands Island farmer, and animal noises from the islands. 
Happy April, one and all. 

Direct download: 081_Interviews_and_soundscapes.mp3
Category:mixed bag -- posted at: 1:08am EDT

Sam Edmonds is good company at high and low latitudes but you'll know that for yourself by the end of the interview, conducted north of Sydney with sulphur crested cockatoo and DeHavilland Canada Beaver accompaniment.

Much has been written on high latitudes food but the residues receive less attention.  After finding out about Antarctic sewage and sewerage I now understand why, but having done the yards it's only right that I put the information in your ears.

The world didn't stand still and await the outcomes of Wilkins' and Byrd's efforts with bated breath.  This episode catches you up on Antarctic pertinent developments that the buzz caused by the aviators eclipsed.
The episode also features an interview I recorded with Dr Andrew Atkin while I was in Sydney.  Yes, if you get in touch and tell me you like the series there's a chance I could turn up in your home, drink your coffee, eat your food and sleep on the spare bed, too, all while talking non-stop about Antarctica.  You never know your luck.

Victor and I spent time in the Zodiacs around the Antarctic Peninsula in late 2018.  This unassuming man quickly demonstrated a tremendous experience in and love of Antarctica and cherished the opportunities our work offered him. 
I sat down with Victor to record a brief history of his Antarctic career after one of the presentations he gave to our team.  This episode comprises that interview and audio from another of the presentations he gave, detailing his experiences at Vostok Station, the most remote and coldest of the permanent human presences in Antarctica.  Vostok will feature in its own episode as the series approaches the era of the International Geophysical Year and again to re-recount the story of the winter without a power plant. 
I could write at length about Victor but I think he says it better and with a cooler accent, so get him in your ears. 

Direct download: 078_Victor_Serov.mp3
Category:Biographic -- posted at: 1:52am EDT

Byrd and Wilkins are done in Antarctica for the 1920s and head north, leaving many loose ends in the snow next to the dog corpses. 
With the depression changing the playing field it would fall to the primo fund raisers and the independently wealthy to pick those loose ends up in the 1930s but I'll get to that after covering some Australian and Norwegian 1929 action and knocking out some interviews I picked up in my travels through the austral summer. 
Victor the vostoknicchi coming your way in episode 078.

Direct download: 077_1929_Coda.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 10:00pm EDT

Some news and a correction.

Direct download: 076_Updates.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:09am EDT

Wilkins returns to the arena, negating the worth of the winter spent at Little America.
Byrd gets his pole flight and drunk.

Direct download: 075_Byrd_and_Wilkins_1929.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 5:00am EDT

Sly grogging among a large company of over winterers makes Byrd's winter on The Barrier a very different experience to that of previous expeditions.

I set up a paypal account for anyone who wants to support the series.  You can flick me some bucks for books, hosting services and travel expenses at

Direct download: 074_Little_America_mid_winter_toast.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 8:56pm EDT