Ice Coffee: the history of human activity in Antarctica

With a hundred meg of storage in my name and a lot of audio snippets with nothing better to do I give you the bits episode. 
Mind the neck bolts.
This episode features the first competition I've run in a long time.  As usual it's biased in favour of early listeners who are old and who are me. 
Voices from the past.
Voices I hope will feature in the future.
One voice that long since broke.
We belong Dad.

Direct download: 112_Bits.mp3
Category:mixed bag -- posted at: 9:32pm EST

Hope Bay's second tranche of winter residents settle in.
Then they head home to a less than heartening reception than their Swedish predecessors experienced, though Taylor didn't die in a public transport accident, so there's that. 

Direct download: 111_Operation_Tabarin_part_3.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 7:28am EST

Penguin sex gets the attention it deserves after Murray Levick deprived the world of his observations due to his prudish Victorian era sensibilities.  Professor Lloyd Spencer Davis gives you the good oil on the oily birds getting it on (early birds only get worms).
Extended and diminished visibility and lights in the sky at high latitudes receive some attention from a non-physicist who will accept corrections with gratitude and alacrity. 

Direct download: 110_Professor_Spencer_Davis_Optical_Phenomena.mp3
Category:mixed bag -- posted at: 12:45am EST

James Marr takes his military expedition south and sets up shop on Goudier Island at Port Lockroy in Bransfield House, and also Base A. 

Direct download: 109_Operation_Tabarin_part_2.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 5:21am EST

Direct download: 108_Update.mp3
Category:Metageneral -- posted at: 3:39am EST

Direct download: 107_Operation_Tabarin.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 7:33pm EST

More fuck! than you can poke a stick at.

Direct download: 106_Women_in_Antarctica.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:47am EST

So fuck! it warrants spelling fark!

Direct download: 105_USASE_Part_3.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 2:17am EST


Direct download: 104_USASE_Part_2.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 11:47pm EST

Keystone cops.
Byrd at his finest.
Fumes and fuming.

Direct download: 104_USASE_Part_1.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 7:14am EST

Lincoln Ellsworth convinces Sir Hubert Wilkins to head south once again and achieves very little. 

Direct download: 102_Ellsworth_s_last_Antarctic_gasp.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 8:54am EST

The War to End All Wars didn't do what it said on the box and political and economic pressures to fascist all over Europe, China and the Pacific led to another protracted period of bloodshed and barbarism. 
This episode is short and short on Antarctic content but it's important to understand the motives and outcomes of the morass of conflicts we came to call the Second World War because war and its wake once more held a lot of sway in what happened in Antarctica and by whom it happened to happen.  No mere happenstance but economic and politically driven outcomes lie in the offing and only those nations not completely economically crippled by conflict could afford to get south again in the short to medium term. 
Not a pleasant episode to write or record and likely little fun to listen to.  Huskie antics and people doing heroic and dumb things lie in the offing, I promise. 

Direct download: 101_World_War_Two.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 3:50am EST

Nazis don't deserve theme music, soundscapes or even my best efforts at editing out narrating flubs. 

Direct download: 100_Nazis_on_ice_part_2.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 6:32am EST

Driven south by the Third Reich's thirst for fat, the Schwabenland (ship version) carries two cool flying boats and a load of fucking nazis to Antarctic shores. 
No house keeping and no calls to action, this episode, because I hate nazis and writing, recording and editing this episode made me grumpy. 

Given that I parted brass rags with Quark expeditions because one of their guests called me a nazi and I told him to go fuck himself only re-doubles my anger at having to incorporate nazi assholes into my narrative.  Even Richard Byrd doesn't get me this pissed off. 

Direct download: 099_Nazis_on_ice.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 8:09am EST

The British Graham Land Expedition comes to a close but it's not the last we'll hear of its members or the repercussions of the work they carried out.

Direct download: 098_BGLE_wrap_up_and_double_the_normal_number_of_McArthurs.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 11:37pm EST

The British Graham Land Expedition near the end of their second year in Antarctica.  Much flying, sledging, surveying and the first crossing of Graham Land.

Direct download: 097_BGLE_part_2.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 12:10am EST

John Rymill picks up where Gino Watkins' death left off and leads the most efficient Antarctic expedition to date. 
Lots of new discoveries, competent seamanship, sledging and flying ensue. 
The BGLE set the mold for safe and competent operations in the high southern latitudes.

Direct download: 096_The_British_Graham_Land_Expedition_01.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 9:35pm EST

I've traveled with Santiago for three austral summers and his humour and humanity have buoyed my moods while his perspectives on the birds we encountered opened my eyes to biological vistas I'd previously not spotted due to my focus on the mud. 
I only just met John Marsden ten minutes before pressing record but his tales of high latitudes aviation warrant further attention than the ten minutes afforded at Seaworks. 
I hope to spend a lot more time in company with these people in the future but until then here's a sonic record of our encounters. 

And some faux advertising to let you know what I've saved you from/what you're missing out on.

Next month, the BGLE get moving. 

Direct download: 095_Santiago_the_ornithologist_and_John_the_pilot.mp3
Category:Contemporary -- posted at: 5:41pm EST

Lincoln Ellsworth's money returns to Antarctica with new pilots, no meteorologist and Norwegians all but ready to throttle him. 
Job's a good 'un, though, in spite of the lack of oomph, patience and skill the money bags brought with him. 

Herbert Hollick-Kenyon nails one of the best put downs in Antarctic history while puffing on his pipe, munching on boiled sweets and reading westerns. 

Lots of penguins, seals and Swedes in the aural background.

Still holding off on throwing the switch on the Patreon account as there's one more episode in the offing, this month.

Direct download: 094_Ellsworth_triumphant_but_still_a_jerk.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 6:23am EST

Ellsworth's money gets it into its head to be the first to cross Antarctica.
Wilkins, Balchen, Braathen and another polar pig get tangled up in his weak sauce Ahab routine.

Soundscapes featuring Port Circumcision and the waters just off Two Hummock Island, which I'm sure is the British Hydrographic Office's cleaned up label for a rude sailor name originally given that land mass by some sailors who'd been at sea for a really, really long time or who knew a woman with really unusually shaped breasts.   

Direct download: 093_Ellsworth_at_his_best_now_with_added_coda.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 11:54pm EST

Two interviews with three fellow Drake Passage crossers and a thunder accompanied decompression after recent upheavals.
Anyone who feels hard done by in the third act is welcome to a right of reply. 

Also putting out my shingle via Patreon once more. outlines what's on offer in return for financial support but I won't start processing episode releases through the Patreon system until people who signed up years ago have a chance to check they still want to contribute at the levels they pledged. 

Back to history next episode with some more on-site recordings about Lincoln Ellsworth's further efforts to make a name for himself by paying other people to do all the things.

Direct download: 092_Ice_life_art_and_unemployment_4.mp3
Category:Contemporary -- posted at: 11:19pm EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

Some news and a correction.

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

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 EST

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 EST

Byrd gets on my nerves ninety years ago.
Direct download: 073_1928_part_02.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:06am EST

The first of the on site recordings for this Austral summer, episode 072 examines the preparations made to finally take aviation south and the echoes of Scott and Amundsen that resonate through the stories of Byrd and Wilkins. 

Direct download: 072_1928_part_01.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 9:52am EST

The final full episode arising from my trip to Hobart.  Ron Hann, Peter Reid and Rob Nash speak about their time in Antarctica and I bloviate about my favourite podcasts.
Ah, narrowcasting, you path to digression, you. 
I'm hoping the next time you'll hear from me I'll be speaking about November 1928 events at Deception Island at Deception Island in November 2018.

Direct download: 071_ANARE_Club_Part_3.mp3
Category:Contemporary -- posted at: 8:29pm EST

The second tranche of interviews from my time at the Australian Antarctic Festival in Hobart.  Barry Becker, Denise Alan and Trevor Luff discuss their time with ANARE and I look forward to seeing Dr Brewin in December. 

Direct download: 070_ANARE_Club_part_two.mp3
Category:Contemporary -- posted at: 6:48am EST

A look at practical, political and ecological developments arising as the whaling fleet, largely comprising Norwegian vessels and crews, set about the business of ridding the Southern Ocean of those pesky cetaceans. 

I'm none too fond of the booze culture of my home nation, the other nations I've lived, and Antarctic bases, but Nicholas Johnson's legacy warrants light, so I recorded one of the articles missing from the resurrected Big Dead Place website for inclusion in this episode. 

Direct download: 069_Whaling_update.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 2:03am EST

Four of the interviews I recorded at the 2018 Australian Antarctic Festival in Hobart. 
Bob Tompkins, Joe Johnson, Ian Toohill and John Gillies share some fo their experiences in the south and Dave Davies rounds the episode out with some Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

Direct download: 068_ANARE_Club_part_one.mp3
Category:Contemporary -- posted at: 10:45pm EST

Bringing to a close the trilogy of Arctic aviation episodes, this episode ties up loose ends sufficient to fully set the aviation scene for the first flights in Antarctica. 
I've really enjoyed putting these episodes together. 

Recent Tasmania adventures get some sizzle but the content won't reflect my time in Hobart until later this month.

Direct download: 067_Arctic_aviation_part_3.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 10:56am EST

Flying in the Arctic posed a dodgy prospect but faint heart never ended up dead on a tundra. 

Direct download: 066_Polar_aviation_part_two.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 9:09pm EST

With aircraft offering opportunities to keep the feet dry and singalling a possible end to the miseries of sledging in all its forms, key players were keen to get flying. Efforts in the north require some attention as the experiences in the Arctic shaped the approach those key players took when they brought flying machines south.

Direct download: 065_Arctic_aviation.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 8:07am EST

Direct download: 064_Fingeewulf.mp3
Category:faffing about -- posted at: 1:55pm EST

Sir Ernest makes his final alive foray to South Georgia before making two further Atlantic voyages while dead. 

Direct download: 063_Quest.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:48pm EST

With Sir Hubert Wilkins set to take a prominent role in several episodes I sat down for coffee and a chat with Jeff Maynard, who knows more about Australia's forgotten polar explorer than I know about most of my family.

Direct download: 062_Jeff_Maynard.mp3
Category:Biographic -- posted at: 10:24pm EST

Two episodes in quick succession.
Weren't expecting that, were you?
I was too excited about sharing the story of Lester and Bagshawe to wait a month to get this out and so trebled the five buck monthly outlay on the hosting service to service my need to let you know about the two and the dogs. 
The most disarmingly charming chapter in Antarctic history. 

Direct download: 061_Lester_and_Bagshawe.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 8:01am EST

Many Antarctic veterans served in the First World War.  This episode I outline the military service of several of those veterans who will make return appearances in the south.
The Great War also affected the political landscape of Antarctica and that gets some attention, too.

How long's it been since I published a short episode?
You'll be halfway through some task or errand and you'll hear me making the house keeping announcements, but don't freak out.  You haven't gone blank or nodded out  I'm just keeping things in their lane as much as I can.  Likely that won't last long as I can see multiple concurrent expeditions looming and with radio keeping them in touch and influencing outcomes where previously everyone operated in isolation it's likely that my discrete expedition/episode strategy is going to come to grief. 

Direct download: 060_Antarctica_War_and_its_wake.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 6:48am EST

The various parties of the ITAE come in out of the cold and most of them immediately head off to war. 

Direct download: 059_ITAE_closer.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 10:13am EST

Frank Worsley knocks it out of the park, navigating across eight hundred nautical miles of open ocean with four sextant shots.  Tom Crean breaks through thin ice for the final time in our saga.
Shackleton tries to get back to Elephant Island and the fourth time's the charm.

Direct download: 058_James_Caird_where_would_have_quit.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 9:27am EST

The Endurance sinks.  Plans form, change, re-form, change again, get discarded, get reinstated and re-form after changing.  Hoosh is the only constant.

Direct download: 057_Boat_outta_Weddell.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 1:20pm EST

The Ice eats The Endurance.
Plans form, change, re-form and change again as the Weddell Sea gives Shackleton's team a thorough stuffing about.

Category:History -- posted at: 12:23pm EST

Sir Ernest Shackleton returns to Antarctica, this time in the Weddell Sea, where the two preceding voyages got stuck.  Guess what happens.  Go on, guess.

Direct download: 056_Into_the_Weddell.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 7:46am EST

Present day geologists offer their perspectives on the Antarctic Peninsula and I record lots of the bow pushing through loose pack because it's mesmerising.

Direct download: 055_Geologists.mp3
Category:Practical -- posted at: 5:36am EST

The Ross Ice Barrier claims its final victim of the Heroic Age as Joyce, Richards and Wild struggle to get the depot party back to safety, then McMurdo Sound takes two more lives when a gamble on the weather goes against Mackintosh and Hayward.

Direct download: 054_Ross_Sea_Party_part_two.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 7:26am EST

Shackleton's depot laying party head to the Ross Sea and fight to get food and fuel to the foot of the Beardmore. 
Part one of a two parter recounting one of the most harrowing chapters to arise in the heroic era.

Direct download: 053_Ross_Sea_Party_part_one.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:07am EST

Hubert Wilkins makes his first appearance in the Ice Coffee narrative, albeit as a supporting character in someone else's nightmare in the Arctic, and I give you the good oil on sticking to tablets and behavioural responses to motion mediated nausea. 
The first episode recorded in Antarctica.  Muy excitamento.  Many spanglish. 

Direct download: 052_Mixed_bag.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 7:45am EST

I've got a few tidbits left to add about the Australasian Antarctic Expedition, and Mawson will be back in the narrative before you know it, but this ties up some loose ends and resolves the cliff hanger from the end of episode 050.

Direct download: 051_AAE_Wind_Up.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:51am EST

The Cape Denison denizens get their science on and prepare for the spring sledging carnival.
The brown stuff gets closer to the whizzy-bladey thing.

Direct download: 050_Mawsons_Trek.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 9:03am EST

Douglas Mawson gets a lot done in just twelve months.

Direct download: 049_Mawson_Macquarie.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:06am EST

I've been offered work in Antarctica and urgently need to renew some certs and get my teeth fixed and get a seafarer's medical and plane tickets and some coffee.
If you've paid all your bills and put some money aside for a rainy day and donated to some charities and had your fill of the caviar and lobster, please consider flicking a few bucks my way. 
Music, soundscapes and broad horizons lie in the offing, so take care and appreciate your coffee.

Direct download: 048_Falling_southward_fund.mp3
Category:begging -- posted at: 7:05am EST

Prussian Army lieutenant Wilhelm Filchner led Germany's second expedition in the early 20th century.  While the government stayed largely hands off the expedition committee put their oar in enough to see der Deutschland sail under a syphilitic commander whose antics placed everyone's lives in danger and gave us a really good example of the sort of problems split leadership can cause in a high latitudes project. 
Suspected suicide, suspected fake appendicitis and very definite mania and toastiness characterised Filchner's time in the south.

Direct download: 047_Filchner.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 9:28am EST

In April 2017 I reprised my take on William Speirs Bruce's role in our present day understanding of Antarctica at the Spotted Mallard.  The audience were teh awesomes so I let them eat cake.

Direct download: 046_Laborastory.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 10:25pm EST

Dogs make all the difference in getting to the South Pole and back.  With Amundsen's triumph, no-one would ever bother going to the Pole agai...
Why are people still heading overland to the pole?
Have they not heard of aircraft?
Do they not heed the reports that the pole is cold and that the view is boring?
Turns out being first at the pole was only the first in a long string of polar firsts to follow in the next century, and I'm expecting a pogo-stick based expedition to be announced at any second.

Direct download: 045_The_Norwegian_and_the_Pole.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 8:41pm EST

Roald Amundsen returns to the narrative and takes pole position, showing the world what you can achieve if you don't give a stuff about science or people. 

Direct download: 044_Amundsen.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 3:14pm EST

What's this?
Three episodes in quick succession?
Blame the hosting service download counter.  I'm now obsessed with topping last month's total downloads.  This was easy when I only had two and a dog listening but now I have to release more episodes to scratch that itch.  Expect shorter and shorter episodes until I'm editing single words and releasing them.

Anyhoo, this one explains some clothing terms and concepts which warranted more attention than I was giving them.

Direct download: 043_What_not_to_not_wear.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:44am EST

Japan comes in out of the cold and heads back out into the cold again.
Nobu Shirase - an explorer of honour and determination, now available in ship form. 

Direct download: 042_Shirase.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:26am EST

Pemmican and sledging biscuit have received several mentions in the series and it's high time I let you in on what I'm on about.

Direct download: 041_Pemmican_WTF.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:21am EST

The Eastern Party make their dogged way back to Cape Evans while Atkinson led teams onto the barrier to look for evidence of the pole party. 
The Terra Nova arrives and the BAE heads home.

Direct download: 040_The_BAE_comes_to_an_end.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:08am EST

Scott's 3IC, Lt. Victor Campbell, fares poorly on every front except the important one.  Little came of the BAE's Eastern Party's efforts in terms of geology, geography, biology, but everyone survived the challenging circumstances that British decorum and crook weather placed them in. 
Oops.  Spoilers.
Don't read this until you've listened to episode 040.

Direct download: 039_BAE_Eastern_Party.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 9:02pm EST

Dammit - it happened again.
This story always ends the same way.
All of the driving forces behind Scott's polar ambition push him to his death.
Poor weather, broken tractors, crap ponies, leaky fuel cans, crevasse fields - lots of things contributed to the tragedy in the physical sense but the expectations placed on Captain Robert Falcon Scott by his nation, his mentors and his peers did their part, too.

Direct download: 038_Terra_Nova_Southern_party.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:50am EST


Scott leads his team south while Amundsen and Mawson keep his clockwork wound up tight. Stormy seas, pack ice and a four way split in the transport preparations frustrate efforts to meld scientific, geographic and historical goals.

Direct download: 037_Terra_Nova_Depots.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:18am EST


I'm sick of 2016.  A friend just died for stupid reasons and my extended family and many friends are facing life in the USA under president Donald Trump and his cabinet of elite racists.
I really have not been in the mood to read about noble suffering under the Victorian model of manliness and my notes about Scott's death on his return from the pole came to a grinding halt about two weeks ago. 
Here's a Frankenstein's episode stop gap comprising essays from the past about ice diving and contrasting Scott Base and McMurdo Station.
I'll get back to the history in time for Christmas but in the mean time 2016 can fuck right off.

Direct download: 036_Ice_Diving.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:57am EST

A dark clockwork comprising duty, ambition and hurt pride winds up Captain Scott and sets him on his path back to Antarctica.

Direct download: 035_Terra_Nova_BAE2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:48pm EST

At the start of the twentieth century whaling in the Southern Ocean was on the uptick.  The players and mechanisms in play held considerable sway in geographic outcomes, with claims and counter claims taking on a new urgency once the parties operating in the south had some oil in the game.

Direct download: 034_I_am_whaling.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:55am EST

With just seven minutes up my data storage sleeve and some expeditions featuring weird relationships between officers and men in the offing, this seems an opportune time to map the boundary between the commissioned and the other ranks in the Victorian era and its immediate aftermath.

Direct download: 033_Upstairs_downstairs.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:05am EST

Charcot leads his second Antarctic expedition aboard a new ship with a new engine.  What could possibly go wrong?
More groundings, more whimsy and more coastline explored.
Well done those Frenchmen.

Direct download: 032_Charcot_Pourqoui_Pas.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:24pm EST

Ernest Shackleton heads south in a dodgy ship, short on funds and with a flea in his ear from Scott, but manages to get a lot done and get everyone home safely. 
Lots of firsts but the south pole remains unclaimed and, with two teams alleging they made it to the north pole, becomes even more alluring.

Douglas Mawson, Aenaes Mackintosh and John King Davis make their Antarctic entrances while Frank Wild and Ernest Joyce make their second forays south. 

Professor Philip Samartzis of the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology becomes the first artist interviewed for the series and discusses why and how he headed south for the sake of his art. 

Direct download: 031_Shackleton_Nimrod.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 8:58am EST

Photography, sledging, hypothermia, frostbite and snow blindness have been getting a lot of mentions in episodes addressing the heroic age and I thought it high time these things be given some attention, as they’re not leaving the narrative anytime soon and I don’t want anyone left in the dark regarding photo-keratitis.

Dr Jacinda Amey is one of New Zealand’s hardest case people and I was privileged to spend time with her at Scott Base in 2005.  Another Radio Tuna interview that never went anywhere is resurrected.

Direct download: 030_Photography_Sledging_Maladies.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:38am EST

Jean Baptiste Charcot heads south, in yet another ship named after a place, looking for adventure, science and Swedes.
Good food, good wine and inadequate heating and propulsion characterised life aboard the Francais but the French got a lot done, showed their mettle in a miserable display of hard as nailsness, and came home with all hands.

Professor Craig Franklin first came on my radar in an interview with Richard Fidler.  His range of research interests includes but is far from limited to the physiology of ice fish.  He spoke to me about his work below the circle and I look forward to getting my hands on the “Antarctic Cruising Guide” he wrote with Peter Carey.  The author combination of a scientist and a national laureate could make this the Australasian “The Log of the Sea of Cortez.”  The appended link leads to a review of the 2006 first edition but the book is now in its third iteration.  Guess who it’s published by.

Direct download: 029_Charcot_Francais_Craig_Franklin.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:48am EST

Robert Falcon Scott makes his first but far from his last appearance in the series and a two year voyage to McMurdo Sound. 
Much sledging.  Very scurvy.
Sir Clements Markham continues to kick downhill to have his way but the back of his bullying breaks when someone take his prophecies of doom at face value.
Wilson, Shackleton, Crean, Frank Wild, Taffy Evans, Lashly and Joyce make their Ice Coffee debuts appearances while Louis Bernacchi is back for an encore. 

I struggled to keep this episode to a reasonable time, as I knew I would.  So much has been written about Scott and his story looms so large in my early understanding of the continent that I really had to work to keep this as concise as I did, which isn't very. 
I see a shadow on the horizon in the form of Scott's second voyage south.  I don't think I can keep that to one episode no matter how many reefs I put in my script.

Among others we've got Charcot's efforts and the return of Shackleton to navigate before we get to the Terra Nova expedition, though, so set stunsails and topgallants and we'll make what way we can before 1912 and the five concurrent expeditions of that year catch us up.

The addendum appended to the episode refers to this crew.

Direct download: 028__Scott_Discovery.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:48pm EST

William Spiers Bruce showed the world what a team could achieve if they ignored the south pole and got on with some science.  Under his guidance the Scottish National Antarctic Expedition established the longest continually occupied meteorological station and discovered large numbers of Antarctic marine species but what I like most about the Scot is how much he got on Sir Clements Markhams' nerves.

Direct download: 027_Bruce_and_the_SNAE.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:49pm EST

Never heard of Nordenskjold?
You have now, and he's pretty darn spiffy.
Likely the reason Nordenskjold isn't better known is that Shackleton and Mawson's later tales of survival against stacked odds drew attention away from the challenges faced and bettered by the Swedes who sailed to the Antarctic aboard the Antarctic. 
Carl Anton Larsen makes a repeat appearance, reprising his role as competent Norwegian ice pilot.
I'm all outta coffee and counting down the minutes until resupp.

Direct download: 026_Nordenskjold.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 11:33pm EST

Germans winter in fast pack ice, make some geographic discoveries, fly, sledge, and science as much as they can, but it's the diving that sets the voyage of the Gauss apart, in my eyes. 
Willy Heinrich - die Achtung!

Direct download: 025_Drygalski_and_the_Guass.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:54pm EST

Carsten Borchgrevink adds to his track record as a git and gets on everyone's nerves in the first winter spent ashore in Antarctica.

Direct download: 024_Borchgrevink.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 8:46am EST

British pride is a'stirring and Germany hankers for some long, hard sciencing but it's the Belgians out in front, showing everyone how it's done if getting trapped in the pack and going mad is the goal.
Some notes about navigation notes presage some future episodes about spurious claims on fruitless firsts but the real appeal of episode 023 is the interview with Peter Cleary, who discusses leopard seals and dog teams.

The interview is another outing from the non-event that was Radio Tuna.  Recorded in 2004, not 2005 as noted in the episode.  I can tell, because it features Dr Paul Brewin in the Scott Base ambience.
Again the Minidisc recorder adds its clicks and whirs but je ne regrette rien, only with better French pronunciation than I can bring to the table.

More Norwegians head south seeking whales.  A kerfuffle over who's on first marks the start of the Heroic Age.

In 2005 I recorded an interview with Rob Robbins, head of the USAP diving programme.  This was slated for a New Zealand radio programme that never came about, itself a rip off of RRR's "Radio Marinara" in Australia, and was captured using a badly battered Mini-Disc unit.  It's not the best audio but I could have been using sticky tape and iron filings as a recording medium, for all I cared.  Rob Robbins is legend among my circle and I was stoked to have his time and attention.
With "Radio Tuna" failing to launch, this is the material's first outing.

Direct download: 022_Bull.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:22am EST

Little Antarctic exploration occurred in the decades immediately after the French, American and British race south that rounded out the 1830s. 
American, German, British, Scottish and Norwegian visitors did turn up looking for whales and in the course of the invention of oceanography. 
This episode takes the series up to the 1890s and sets the scene for the voyage that would kick off the Heroic Age of antarctic exploration in all its capitalised glory. 

Direct download: 021_Cooper_Dallman_Challenger_Dundee_Larsen.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 3:10am EST

With many Arctic winters and more Arctic summers under their belts, Ross and Crozier got a lot done and brought their crews home safely.  Gongs all round.

Direct download: 020_Ross_Crozier.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:16am EST

It's just a word sometimes employed by people pretending to be pirates to most modern ears but until recently scurvy stood as a perplexing and deadly problem for mariners and polar explorers.  In this episode I discuss how sailors and scientists solved the scurvy riddle, screw up an attempt to say "very low levels," and make myself sad. 

Direct download: 019_Scurvy.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:18pm EST

For my money, Charles Wilkes is the first of the Antarctic matinets.  Drawn south by the opportunity to lead a large expedition and little else, his attempts to coordinate six poorly fitted out and ill matched ships crewed by people who largely thought little of him went every bit as well as that sentence presages.

Direct download: 018_Wilkes.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:47am EST

First out of the blocks in the three way race south, Dumont d'Urville does a fair job with the resources France can throw at the project after much war and revolution and war and blockades and war. 

Often described as a nineteenth century analogue to the Space Race, I think of this period in Antarctic history as the nineteenth century race southward, of which the Space Race was a twentieth century analogue, because causality.

Direct download: 017_Dumont_d_Urville.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:41pm EST

Reynolds returns to the narrative but his efforts at getting the US a toehold in the cold see him get an even colder shoulder than his last outing.
Ross earns his ice chops in the north.
Dumont d'Urville, after wowing the crowds with an armless display of Greek marbility, languishes in Cholera riddled Toulon, until his big chance beckons.
Balleny fulfills Enderby funded duties and adds information to the growing polynya of knowledge.
I came here to podcast and to drink coffee, and I'm all out of coffee.  The shakes are setting in.

Direct download: 016_Reynolds_Ross_Wilkes_dUrville_Balleny.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:34pm EST

Peter Kemp isn't well recorded, so there's little to tell about him other than he sailed on the Magnet and saw a coast that's now named after him.

Jason Kimberley traveled to Antarctica in 2005 and did the hauling and the crevasse fields that make up much of my nightmare material.  On his return, in addition to writing one of the most accessible recent books about life on the ice, Jason established "Cool Australia," an online science education resource for school children.
Finally, I give a brief account of getting toasty, which is, in addition to snaws, a thing.

Direct download: 015_Kemp_Kimberley_Toasty.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:51am EST

The last gasps of British sealing efforts in the South and a brief profile of a dynasty of ship owners who paid for a lot of the exploitation of marine resources in the sealing and whaling boom times. 

Direct download: 014_Foster_Enderbys_Biscoe.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 6:03am EST