The Mawson 1967 Spring - Summer Survey Traverse :

 Mount Twintop to Depot Peak


By John Manning and Other Field Party Members


This Document Prepared in 2018 from 1967 Records



Although not on the original survey program for 1967, the possibility for an inland, oversnow Tellurometer traverse became an idea in September 1967 during the final phase of the Church Mountain traverse. With the completion of that survey in October 1967, approval was gained from both Natmap and the Antarctic Division (ANTDIV) to combine this survey with the inland fuel run planned to stock both Depot A and Depot B with drums for future helicopter operations.


The early exploration years at Mawson had seen inland probes seeking to explore the inland mountains, subsequently naming them the Prince Charles Mountains. In 1954 and 1955 expeditions using Weasel vehicles and dog sledges had reached the northern extremities of these mountain ranges. In 1956 vehicles and dog teams were supported by RAAF aircraft based at Mawson and the central northern mountains were further explored. The mapping diagram below shows the routes used which resulted in isolated astronomic fixes providing positioning for reconnaissance mapping. Bob Lacey was the surveyor with Béchervaise in 1955 and Syd Kirkby was the surveyor with Bill Bewsher in 1956.


Australian Antarctic Territory south of Mawson base.

Showing routes used for isolated astronomic fixes to obtain positioning data for early reconnaissance mapping.



With the change from isolated astrofixes to continuous geodetic survey as the basis for mapping, an oversnow Tellurometer-based survey traverse was established in 1965 by surveyor Max Corry. It linked the coastal Framnes Mountains to the northern outliers of Prince Charles Mountains. This traverse was extended into the start of the northern Prince Charles Mountains by surveyor John Quinert in 1966. However, a repeat was needed of the oversnow survey by Max Corry, due to its geodetic importance in relation to the inland mountains and as all intermediate stations were on a moving ice sheet. The 1965 and 1966 work needed to be tied to a geodetic origin and to the geodetic framework being built up in the Framnes Mountains


Much had been learnt about oversnow survey traverse work on the polar plateau on the previous 1967 autumn, winter and spring field trips. On completion of the Church Mountain work in October 1967, a request by the surveyor was to repeat the Corry traverse in what remained of the year but to cut down on the number of stations used in the original traverse. This was approved by National Mapping as long as sufficient original stations were connected to enable glaciological flows to be determined. Mount Twintop at the southern end of the Framnes Mountains was the starting point for both the 1965 and 1967 surveys. Both surveys terminated at a common station on Depot Peak, with a closing angle to peak seven in the Stinear Nunataks.


Map of Max Corry’s 1965 route and Tellurometer traverse stations between Mount Twintop and Depot Peak. Locations of supply Depots A and B also indicated (after Corry, 1969).


With John Erskine the OIC, required to stay at Mawson to handle difficult personnel problems, the surveyor took on the role of overall leader with responsibility for official reporting; while Bill Butler shouldered the huge responsibility for vehicles and sledges.


The field party left Mawson on 4 November 1967, returning 29 December 1967. On return to Mawson a comprehensive report was prepared. This report was scanned from ANTDIV records and converted to text and with minor editing is reproduced here, some fifty years later.


Mawson Field Report No.15/67 : Depot Peak Survey Traverse

and Fuel Depoting, November - December 1967





Aims and Objectives


Summary of Events


Daily Diary of Traverse


Mechanical Report


Survey Report


Radio Communication Report






Navigation Tables


Micropulsation Report – [refer to No.16/1967 not included here]




Main Traverse Party

John Manning

 Surveyor & Radio Operator

Bill Butler

 Plant inspector, senior diesel mechanic

Ian Thomas

 Auroral physicist

Syd Little


Mark Forecast

 Meteorological observer

Brian Jackson

 Radio operator



Depot A party

Tony Kerr

 Auroral physicist

Peter Lockhart



Aims and Objectives



To depot the following fuel, in case it was needed as an exit route for the 1968 Amery Ice Shelf Glaciology Survey :

6x   44-gallon drums of petrol - Twintop’s Depot

6x   44-gallon drums of petrol - Depot A

20x 44-gallon drums of petrol - Depot B


To depot as much helicopter aviation turbine kerosene (ATK) as possible at Depot B for proposed flying operations in 1969.


Establish a temporary base at Depot A for recording inland micropulsations of the earth’s magnetic field as part of the 1967 Auroral programme.


Carry out a Tellurometer Survey Traverse between Mount Twintop and Depot Peak and determine the absolute movement of glaciology markers established in 1965 along this traverse route.


In addition to above program, regular meteorological observations were to be made and transmitted to VLV (Mawson base radio callsign).


Summary of Events

A previous depot trip to Twintop Depot was made during October depoting sledges and fuel there, leaving the workshop caravan just above the moraine of the Rumdoodle area.





November 1967



Tractor train departed Mawson.


Survey Camp established Mount Twintop.


Tractor train arrived Depot A.


Tellurometer measurement.


Departed Depot A.


Arrived Mount Twintop.


Departed Twintop Depot.


Arrived Depot A.


Departed Depot A.


Arrived Depot B.


Departed Depot B.


Arrived Depot Peak.


Survey work.


Daylight Star Astro.

December 1967



Tractor train departed Depot Peak.


Tellurometer measurement to NM/S/92.


Snow Trac arrived NM/S/92.


Measurement to NM/S/91 from NM/S/92.


Measurement NM/S/90-91, NM/S/88-90.


Measurements NM/S/88-87, NM/S/87-85.


Final Tellurometer measurement, tractor train at Depot A.


Survey party camp established Mount Twintop.


Survey work.


Tractor train departed Depot A.


Tractor train at Mount Twintop.


Tractor train arrived Mawson.


Manning Diary Record


Saturday 4 November 1967

Left Mawson 0800 for Gwamm with three D4 Caterpillar tractors; identified as Orange Bastard, Mr William, and Clappa. Assembled train at Gwamm except for workshop caravan, which had been left in the Rumdoodle vicinity by the previous Twintop depoting run. Leaving Gwamm at 0900 we said goodbye to our VW escort of the OIC, Chris Simpson and Vic Dent, and continued to Rumdoodle area where the workshop caravan was taken in tow and train assembled properly at 1200 [all times Mawson Bastard Time (MBT), which is UT +6 hrs]. Proceeded on until 1400 when tractors were refuelled 1 mile short of Mount Elliott. Snow surface slightly soft on top but no winching required and D4s managing third gear. Syd and I in lead tractor, Mr William, Brian in Clappa and Mark and Bill in heavily loaded Orange Bastard.


Stopped at Hordern Gap to probe route through shattered ice slots for 4 miles then proceeded cautiously for another half mile on shattered ice with thin snow cover before clearing the slotted area.


Continued for about 2 miles west on old tracks which were ½ mile west of main trail converging later in vicinity of marker flag 62/11 which we passed at 1900 and stopped for night 2 miles short of Twintop Depot at 2110. Had tea of Mark's pies and beer after VLV sked at 2130. Old tracks made navigation easy in the good weather and the trail is well marked.


Loads :


Orange Bastard

 11.7 tons


 8.5 tons

Mr William

 9.2 tons


Days Travel : 41 miles


Sunday 5 November 1967

Temperature -7°F. Syd up early woke everyone with coffee. Bill and Mark outside at 0645 to start tractors without needing Herman. Underway at 0930 after careful warming up of tractors without load. Short run of 2 miles to Twintop Depot. Weather fair, slightly overcast and windy, reached Depot 1010. Depot drifting up, and in my opinion badly sited; but I guess the early doggies needed to camp on snow.


Train reassembled to take on previously depoted fuel and sledges. Tony got some official Cine shots and all went smoothly. Departed 1230 and soon encountered heavy pulling up ice slope to old aircraft landing strip and tie down points. These are visible from the Depot and a little misleading as best route for laden train is half mile to the west up a gradual ice slope. Orange Bastard now lead tractor with Mark and myself, as navigation is now really required and Orange Bastard has a bigger cab and better roof hatch for using the Astrocompass. Weather is deteriorating with full cloud cover and precipitation in the air. Pushed on past old Twintop’s depot (a much better location) and after another ¾ mile turned towards Mount Twintop and stopped the main train at the edge of the snow. Unhooked Orange Bastard and towed Snow Trac on Norwegian sled 300 yards up slope to where a polar pyramid was pitched, using the D4 to dig the hole. Bill started Snow Trac and drove it off sled then Syd drove it up the snow slope almost to a saddle on Twintop’s ridge.


Freighter workshop caravan behind a D4 tractor.

John Manning supplied photograph.


Syd, Ian, Peter, Tony and myself carried survey gear and survival equipment up mountain and pitched Beche tent 200 foot from beacon on top where small stone wall and platform were built during helicopter operations (64-65 changeover).


Bill, Mark and Brian went back to D4 train and packed food and gear from sledges into workshop caravan. Arrived back at 1645 after Tony took some Cine shots to find we have dropped off a toolbox of Snow Trac tools, possibly at last fuel stop near Mount Elliott.


Decided to push on, though there is much precipitation and cloud about. By use of both Astro and magnetic compasses as conditions permitted, managed to continue to travel although visibility often down to 100 yards. Stopped at 2110 for Brian's sked with VLV on 2720MHz. All tractors again turned off and I cooked tea of Bully Beef and tomato. Tony and Peter who are living separately in their fibreglass caravan came in for the meal. Tractors in second gear all day. Syd and Ian left in tent at Twintop.


Days Travel : 14 miles


Monday 6 November 1967

Temperature -2°F, slept in a little after late night; cooked breakfast 0730, low solid ground drift and winds of 30 knots made outside work very slow.


Bill had some trouble with pilot motor in Orange Bastard. Away at 1100, navigation difficult but made possible by fleeting glimpses of sun through the drift. Pushed on slowly with D4s in second gear all day. Some markers off line and wide apart and with visibility about 400 yards off line, careful navigation was needed.


Mount Twintop with 3-drum beacon just visible on summit.

Image from Australian Antarctic Data Centre website.


Pulled up at 4-drum beacon NM/S/80 at 1700 for sked with Syd and Ian at Twintop and refuelled. Continued on through soft snow and sastrugi stopping for VLV sked at 2130 one mile short of Depot A. Arrived Depot A 2300; a dismal sight in the drift 5 canes and 4 small food boxes. Ian cooked tea of steak, Tony and Peter eating with us. Loads same as yesterday, Mark and I in Orange Bastard, Brian in Mr William, Tony in Clappa got bogged on a soft sastrugi hump. Drift looks bad for tomorrow. Dome at back of Depot, which I hope to use for survey station looks very slotty; will need good weather for it. Bill also wants good weather without drift for D4 maintenance.


Days travel : 19 miles.


Tuesday 7 November 1967

High thick ground drift preventing outside work all morning in strong wind falling off about 1400. Mark and Bill on vehicle maintenance. Drift gradually decreasing and everyone worked on train unloading, setting up Tony's micropulsation camp and dozing up a 5 foot mound for his sledge-mounted Lister diesel generator. Bill started Snow Trac after clearing drift out of Eberspacher heater and Tony and I did a roped reconnaissance of the dicey dome for a Tellurometer station. Back for tea and skeds with Syd and VLV; made arrangement for Tellurometer sked at 2330 and 2400 on Bearing of 257 magnetic. Unable to start Snow Trac heater at -15°F so Bill started Snow Trac by getting air cleaner red hot on gas stove and quickly placing on engine.


Just made midnight Tellurometer sked in very light ground drift. Very cold on the Dicey Dome*, fortunately able to drive Snow Trac carefully to a reasonable position for survey station. Brian and Mark assisting with readings. Temperature -26°F dropping to -30°F; very cool in wind. Twintop refracting badly giving trouble with tuning and readings on Tellurometer. [*Note 2018: The dome was later officially named Venture Dome to indicate the risk taken in crossing it in 1967.]


Probing large crevasse at Dicey Dome survey station 7 November 1967.

John Manning supplied photograph.


Completed Tellurometer readings and returned to caravan at 0230 on 8 November. Bill stayed up and made us all Bonox and rum which was much appreciated by three frozen bodies. Syd and Ian staying in their Beche tent on top of Twintop after work, very pleased to get Telle shot although yet to get theodolite angles. Snow Trac left running during readings in the cold as heater not operating.


Bill and Mark unsuccessful with Briggs & Stratton generator for battery recharging; engine runs well but no electricity (could be diode trouble as at Frustration Dome earlier in year).


Wednesday 8 November 1967

Temperature -18°F and slept till 0845 sked with Syd. Unable to get him on his Vaughan radio. Our AN/GRC-9 radio was playing up. Brian unable to transmit on RT and he changed for spare set but no joy.


Bill cooked a big breakfast and we had sked with Syd at 1100 on his AN/GRC-9 after he descended to his lower Polar Pyramid camp. Arranged another sked at 1300 whilst Bill worked on Snow Trac heater. At 1300 arranged subsequent Tellurometer sked at 1415.


Bill started Snow Trac with his red hot system and Brian came up the Dicey Dome as booker. Good contact on Tellurometer, Syd took a few check readings and then visual contact was made on Heliographs and reciprocal verticals were read then I took 4 sets of horizontal angles to NM/S/83. Very satisfied to get readings completed.


Mark and Bill welded together a 3-drum beacon and then with Peter and myself erected it up on the survey station melting the ice around base with petrol.


Snow Trac blew a tyre on way down and we changed it back at camp. Bill started the Lister generator for Tony during the day and we all worked late at unloading fuel drums from articulated cargo sledge. Sked with Mawson OK, Tony tried his AWA5A radio with fair reception while Brian is still here with AN/GRC-9. Pretty tired tonight.


Thursday 9 November 1967

Late breakfast with the temperature soaring to +5°F. Bill sorted out spares and equipment and I dogged down Snow Trac on sledge, wind and ground drift getting worse.


Tony now has most of his set up laid out with 2 Blizzard lines, Lister on snow mound, Beche tent for emergency, various cables and sensing devices laid out, miscellaneous meteorological masts and anemometer. Laid out sun azimuth at 42° 30’ true for micropulsation equipment and true north for Peter’s wind gauge. After a snack Bill and Mark started tractors and we left Depot A at 1430 in 5 feet of moderate ground drift, following outward D4 tracks back towards Twintop.


Had stew for tea during VLV radio sked at 2130 Brian using Helical whip on caravan with dicey reception. Pushed on after tea. Conditions now almost impossible but just managing to continue on old tracks. Arrived Twintop tent camp 1700 and stopped at edge of snow 300 yards from tent.


Days Travel : 30 miles


Friday 10 November 1967

Awoke to a whiteout with drift; unable to see tent or mountain. Slept till 1100 then played bridge. Weather improved about 1600 and soon after Ian and Syd saw us and came over.


Weather in Twintop area improved slightly and we moved at 1930 for drum depot. Navigation again difficult in drift. Arrived soon after at depot in 35 knot wind carrying ice particles and drift. Conditions made loading of 35 drums of fuel and boxes of food a trying business, however all finished before sked at 2130. Curry and rice for tea but it was after midnight before we were bedded down; very hot night with extra two in caravan.


Good to see Syd and Ian after their mountain vigil and their treks up and down for radio skeds although six living in the caravan seems crowded after only four.


Days travel : 2 miles.


Saturday 11 November 1967

Syd up early to cook breakfast, heavy blizzard of last night has eased off, wind at 40 knots but little drift in it. Bill and Mark started the D4s after some trouble with ice in manifolds. Bill changed some spark plugs as well. Away at 1100 heading back to tent camp where we dug out the drifted in Polar Pyramid with the help of Orange Bastard, and dogged Snow Trac back on Norwegian sledge.


Left tent campsite at 1415 and headed down our previous tracks towards Depot A. After ½ hour decided to change loads around as surface was soft from recent warm weather and drift snow.


Mark in Orange Bastard and Brian in Mr William until tea and radio sked stop at 4‑drum beacon as 2120, 11 miles from Depot A. Tony on AWA radio very weak reception. The towing pin on Orange Bastard came out and Mark used the D4 blade to replace it, despite care, workshop slewed again on sledge in rough sastrugi and we limped slowly into Depot A at 0320. All cold but happy to be back in good time despite drift and weather. The main train has not yet had a good day weather wise since 4 November.


Days travel : 32 miles.


Sunday 12 November 1967

Up at noon, drift slowly easing and weather improving, loading drums and repacking sledges all day until tea at sked time. Cooked tea of roast lamb, Tony and Peter up for tea. Hope to move tomorrow weather permitting of course.


Monday 13 November 1967

Up at 0700 to cook breakfast but semi whiteout and thick drift prevented travel. Weather worsened, visibility only 70 feet, temperature +10°F. Weather too bad for Tony and Peter to come over to our caravan. Syd made emergency repairs to Briggs & Stratton generator diode but these can only be considered as temporary repair with limited life.


Tuesday 14 November 1967

Up at 0600 still blizzing just as bad, back to the pit until 1200. Ian cooked breakfast. Cloud cover started to break up but drift still extremely thick about 15 feet high. Impatient to get on but weather not good enough yet for travel.


Wednesday 15 November 1967

Blizzard all day, up at 0600 when Syd our watchkeeper stirred but no dice, back to pit for an hour before breakfast, slight break in weather at 0820 but closed in again soon after. Mark started Tony's Lister generator about midnight 14 November. Played bridge most of day, Ian working on his literature survey for M.Sc. Thesis. Syd charged caravan batteries with Mr William, as batteries dropped way down through last night’s VLV sked. Brian didn't have much luck with tonight’s VLV sked due to radio blackout, got meteorological observations away but little else.


Lister has iced up from melting drift while running. Bill had a brief look at midnight, will investigate tomorrow.


Thursday 16 November 1967

A good day at last, Syd cooked early breakfast of soup (his favourite) but we had much work to do on sledges and assembling train etc.


Bill and Mark started Mr William and Orange Bastard then took Herman down to the Lister to thaw out ice. Syd and Mark started Clappa. Ian cleaned caravan, Brian had a look at Tony's aerials whilst I worked on towing arrangements for Nansen sledges as the two sledges have broken two bars and the remaining one is dicey. Train assembled by midday, had coffee and collected official Rolex movie camera from Tony. Departed Depot A at 1300 after much photography.


Gradual slow progress along marked trail but missed a marker at 2000 so went back 0.6 mile and continued by dead reckoning, eventually picking up trail again at 2300.


Mark in Orange Bastard until 1500, Syd in Mr William, Ian and Brian alternating in Clappa. Bill cleared fuel blockage in Clappa at 1800 and then drove Orange Bastard after refuelling. Pulled up at 2110 for tea and sked before continuing until 2400 when sun went down and shadow disappeared on Astrocompass. Tempted to go on and navigate by moon but cold clear weather looks stable so decided to pull up and get 6 hours sleep until sun comes up and then be ready for long day tomorrow. Tractors left running for first time for an early start; temperature -15°F. Country very flat no domes; looks difficult survey wise.


Days travel : 17 miles.


Friday 17 November 1967

Syd woke Bill and I at 0600 but to our disgust the weather has gone for a row, overcast completely thick drift, visibility 50 yards only. Blizzard bad all day; machines shut down, played bridge. No Radio Australia due bad conditions. Don’t intend pulling up in good visibility again!


VLV sked difficult, Tony still having some trouble with Lister generator, dying and stopping under load. Bill suggested cutting away cowling where ice is building up and acting as a brake on the flywheel.


Saturday 18 November 1967

Blizzard all day, no move possible. Tony unable to work on his generator. Mark's pies and peas for tea, very acceptable.


Sent off press release concerning micropulsation station and main traverse on VLV sked.


Sunday 19 November 1967

Weather still crook early. Ian cooked breakfast at noon with weather slowly improving. Tractors started 1500 and we moved at 1600 after assembling train. Mark and I in Orange Bastard, Brian in Clappa, and Syd in Mr William, visibility picking up all the time but Clappa getting bogged continually in soft patches because of high towing arrangement (as Clappa has no tow bar we are using a heavy sling around winch drum). Changed train around after an hour to ease Clappa although it is pulling load very easily in firm going.


Refuelled 2100 for radio sked and tea. Ian cooked salmon pie. Distance travelled 10 miles visibility good, continued on after sked starting at 2300. Mark and I in Orange Bastard, Syd in Mr William. Ian in Clappa getting bogged soon after. Syd changed with Ian and Bill, put train on winch cable (still overwound) and went better.


Sun went down 2420 and cloud cover came up, continued on as visibility fair, navigating with magnetic compass and field glasses.


Monday 20 November 1967

Stopped at 0300 for coffee and continued on soon after sun obscured by cloud but making good progress in heavy going nevertheless.


Refuelled and changed drivers 0530. Bill in Clappa, Brian in Mr William and I took over driving Orange Bastard. Clappa needed careful driving to avoid bogging in soft patches, still good visibility - certainly a great novelty.


Pulled up at 1200 to refuel 6 miles short of Depot B, drift coming up, changed drivers and Mark took over navigating and the lead in Orange Bastard with Syd in Clappa and Ian in Mr William. Arrived at Depot B 1500 in thickening ground drift and overcast sky. Everybody weary, but satisfied after 23 hour run with slow heavy laden train.


During radio sked at 2130, heard that Tony's Lister overheated with excess load and burnt out exhaust valve. Bill gave them the OK to have a look at it but will probably have to hang on until we get back to fix it or charge his batteries with a D4. Sent off progress report to ANARE.


Distance travel : 45 miles.


Tuesday 21 November 1967

Weather bad; overcast, strong wind and ground drift. Stayed in pit till 1230. Unloaded drums after breakfast. Very warm +9°F, but unpleasant working in drift. Placed long line of drums and winched Nansen sledge up onto articulated sledge. I used 16 mm Rolex to get Cine pictures while the others did all the work.


Bill cooked tea of Burdekin Duck and then had very good reception sked with VLV. Weather worsening. Played Canasta until 0100 as weather still crook.


Wednesday 22 November 1967

Blizzard all day at Depot B.


Thursday 23 November 1967

At Depot B. Blizzard all day.


Friday 24 November 1967

Weather promising started tractors, assembled train and moved 50 yards clear of drift. Weather cracking up quickly again as cloud cover came over. Shut tractors off, so no move. Listened to Radio Australia on 11810kc. I cooked tough steak and baked rice custard for tea.


Saturday 25 November 1967

Blizzard all day, still at Depot B. Pies and peas for tea.


Sunday 26 November 1967

Blizzard all day, clearing at night. Played cards and kept eye on weather. Laid down 2430 for couple of hours.


Monday 27 November 1967

Up at 0230 with aid of alarm clock. Weather reasonable but still drifting. Bill, Mark and Syd started tractors while Ian and I cooked breakfast. Away at 0340 with Mark and I in Orange Bastard and Syd in Mr William headed for Depot Peak. Sky clear but ground drift still persisting. Temperature -12°F, visibility about 150 yards so careful and attentive navigation required to stay on marked trail. Very heavy pulling through recent soft drift.


Turned off old Amery (Stinear) Highway marked route at 4.8 miles from Depot B and continued on Corry’s 1965 marked Snow Trac route towards Depot Peak.


Temperature -2°F but weather worsening with cloud cover and drift increasing in very strong wind. Syd's feet went off and I lost navigation tables in very strong wind while setting Astrocompass ensuing a brief halt while I worked out LHA's settings again.


Syd changed with Ian as Syd's feet were still off and he re-thawed them in caravan. Stopped at 0930 about 2 miles short of Depot Peak as weather was too bad to proceed through reported slot country ahead. Both Ian and Mark’s noses and cheeks went off whilst we were refuelling.


Tuesday 28 November 1967

Heavy ground drift and overcast sky early but gradually clearing and we went to work after tea and VLV sked. Mr William started with engine only running on one cylinder but Bill persisted with it and soon had it running. Mark had some trouble with Orange Bastard and tow started it behind Mr William. Mark and I leading in Orange Bastard, selected a new track which seemed obviously better than marked route and had no trouble in negotiating this final section.


Parked train on snow slope, south of mountain 100 yards down from rock at 0100. We all climbed to survey station on Peak 4 about 0200 in strong wind and light drift swirling all over the mountain. To bed at 0330.


Wednesday 29 November 1967

Up at 1130. Cooked breakfast and discovered that I have left T3 theodolite in other Snow Trac, a blunder; so, we undogged No.7 and after a run on Eberspacher, Mark cranked it into life and took off at 1445 with Brian and Ian also aboard to collect T3 for me from Depot B and erect a beacon there.


Bill worked on D4 maintenance and Syd charged batteries on Briggs & Stratton, only to have it break down (for good this trip as diode has packed it in) on completion.


Wind still very strong with some drift. Syd and I packed survey gear and battery uphill while Bill welded up a 2-drum beacon. Had a bite to eat and made contact with Snow Trac party at 1900 to learn that they were mending a split track 1 mile this side of Depot B and expected to be back 2200.


Syd, Bill and I hauled and carried beacon up the hill and surprised ourselves by erecting and guying it atop Corry’s 2-drum beacon in the blustering strong wind to make a double guyed 4-drum beacon.


Returned to caravan camp at 2120 just beating the Snow Trac in. Sked with VLV and then Syd, Ian and myself up to survey station to try to read angles but no luck, too much wind, drift and scintillation. Read a sun azimuth to Peak 5 and returned to camp to settle down to astro predictions for locating daylight stars.


Summit of Depot Peak with 4-drum beacon circa 1990.

Image by N Ward from Australian Antarctic Data Centre website.


Thursday 30 November 1967

Got to bed pretty late after astro calculations to 0330. Slept till midday. Went up with Ian to commence daylight star shots. Still very windy. Built a rock wall for some protection, as wind too strong otherwise. Conditions not good and lost Achernar after one shot. Drift flying overhead and wind on theodolite and eyes makes sighting difficult. Read to Canopus after failing to sight several duller stars into the wind. Returned to camp 1530 as Antares was too close to sun to sight.


Had tea after sked and went back up the mountain and read to two more stars at 2300 referencing on beacon at Depot B. Unable to see other points with drift about although wind slackening.


Tractor train moved off to Depot B leaving Mark and I in a polar pyramid tent below the Depot Peak. Syd suffering from welding flash he received yesterday. Heard on sked that there is a proposed dog trip to Depot A to attempt generator repair.


Sunday 10 December 1967

Blizzard proper again raging at the tent.


Monday 11 December 1967

Blizzard again, decreasing a little.


Snow Trac at camp below Depot Peak on 12 December 1967 after blizzard.

John Manning supplied photograph.


Tuesday 12 December 1967

Conditions improving. I called Tractor train at 0300 and 0400 and they called us several times later but no contact until 1700 when arranged for Tellurometer sked at 1745. Contact made, very dicey at first and reading a little difficult, but improved and was OK. Syd at Depot B unable to see us at first but established heliograph visual sighting both ways and read theodolite angles but conditions falling fast at 2200. Finished 2230 and back to camp to dig out, heavily drifted in Polar pyramid tent and pack up gear carried down from mountain.


Wednesday 13 December 1967

Snow Trac started well and we left at 0210 in light falling snow and whiteout conditions. Navigation OK, but care needed in existing conditions. No sign of D4 tracks practically all drifted over in past weeks drift. Arrived Depot B at 0430 and tractor train 0700 in poor weather. Good to be back and much talk ensued, then some sleep.


Bill had welded and erected a 3-drum beacon to sight to at NM/S/92, nice work.


Thursday 14 December 1967

Up at 0700. Mountain surprisingly visible but shimmering. Tried to read angles but no success. Survey traverse proper is now commencing. Overcast and whiteout conditions but no drift thank goodness. Syd and Ian left 1015 in Snow Trac and we had radio sked at 1130 to find them in position at NM/S/91. Tellurometer sked at 1145. Excellent reception, Tellurometer readings went well and Snow Trac returned to tractor train at 1530 no troubles. No sign of Depot Peak all day, precipitation in the air and slight ground drift.


Very long radio sked tonight on Auroral filter fiddle-faddle for two and a half hours. Tony ingeniously replaced blown capacitor in his AWA radio from one out of a Phillips motor during the sked.


Friday 15 December 1967

Up at 0300 to watch for Peak 4 beacon coming and going. Syd got up for a while but went back soon as visibility not good enough. Mark got up at 0515 and booked for me whilst I read angle to NM/S/91. Went back to the cot at 0700 on completion of work whilst tractors started and train assembled. Breakfast at 0900 then Syd and Ian departed in Snow Trac (as they formed the forward Tellurometer Party) for NM/S/91 again and for reconnaissance to NM/S/90 and NM/S/89, while D4 trundled along behind. Semi whiteout conditions but slowly improving.


Main train arrived at NM/S/91 1130, Tellurometer contact established at 1200 and measurements taken and angles read. Bill made some hot scones and I took round of panoramic shots with train circling. Left at 1600 with Syd and Ian off ahead to recce and establish another station. Brilliant sunlight now for a great change. Main train arrived NM/S/90 at 1830 to find Snow Trac ahead at NM/S/88. They were just out of easy sight over a ridge and quite a lot of shimmer about with belt of cloud coming up from south. Spent some time locating forward party and establishing satisfactory methods of measurements.


Put Tellurometer on tripod up on 3 single drums and stood on another and Syd was able to work from ground both for Tellurometer and theodolite readings while I worked from drums in each case, tiring but necessary. Tremendous bursts of refraction came across, giving extreme trouble with angle readings. Syd put Lucas lamp over mark as I couldn't distinguish opaque objects in the murk, the weather having gone bad again. Eventually completed angles and left at 0130 next morning in D4s to go ahead, met Syd and Ian short distance out from the Snow Trac walking to keep warm. D4s parked at NM/S/88 and bedded down 0430. Depot Peak was observed miraging at 2400.


Saturday 16 December 1967

Despite threatening weather last night, the day has cleared up quite well with sun again. Up at midday but had maintenance work to do on Snow Trac and Brian trouble shooting on AN/GRC-9 which went last night in Snow Trac. He eventually traced it to faulty valve in Dynamotor and replaced it. Snow Trac away at 1530 and made extensive recce before deciding on NM/S/87 as next station.


I used Tellurometer and T3 on drums again directly over mark as the ten foot beacon and 16 foot mast left at NM/S/90 were out of sight from ground during period of low refraction. Completed readings 1230 and we were on move 2015 whilst Syd and Ian went forward to establish next station.


Stopped for brief VLV sked at 2130 reaching NM/S/87 at 2200 to find the top of the Snow Trac only visible as they are at NM/S/85 and can see beacon on Dicey Dome.


With some trepidation, decided to take chance that I will be able to see back from NM/S/85 when I get there, even though Syd can see us quite well at present. Carried out Tellurometer readings from ground tripods even though instruments not intervisible; worked well. Syd elevated a Lucas lamp over the mark for me and I put one on roof of Snow Trac for him, as weather has dropped right off and it is completely overcast with light snow falling. Read angles first while stations visible, a wise precaution down here as snow thickened and blotted out NM/S/88.


Bill fed us with soup and hot scones again, as is his practice, while we are working, very much appreciated. Then he welded up a 4-drum beacon and we established this over the mark with theodolite through falling large snowflakes, rather an impressive sight. Under way at 0145 heading straight for Lucas lamp shining through the snowflakes falling out of a leaden sky and arrived at 0300. This being Saturday night, our pie night we had pea soup and pie floaters. Late to bed 0500. Weather outlook not good.


John Manning observing with T3 theodolite on Snow Trac 17 December 1967.

John Manning supplied photograph.


Sunday 17 December 1967

Up at midday to find sun out and no drift and nearly calm again, our third day with some sun in a row. Unable to see 12 foot beacon of last station, much consternation all round. Tried with T3 on drums, no luck though I can see at least 6 feet of beacon from tripod on Snow Trac roof but it cuts out 2' 6" lower very quickly due to ridge very close to NM/S/87. Tried to use T3 on roof of Snow Trac; no dice - too much movement. Then Mark suggested placing jacks under Snow Trac and erecting a separate stand on a wide plank to walk on and this worked well, but very tiring for observer.


However, it saved us waiting until 2200 for refraction lift. Mark and I left in Snow Trac to go ahead to Dicey Dome at 1600 arriving there 1730. Tellurometer contact at 1800 but delayed reading as single-drum beacon on Twintop was visible and read horizontals first. Tellurometer readings and verticals completed 2100 and packed gear and went down to see Tony and Peter. Arriving there just in time to relay message from Brian postponing VLV sked till 2345 as they are travelling.


John Manning with T3 theodolite reading last horizontal traverse angle at Dicey Dome.

Ian Thomas photograph.


Main train arrived 2340 just in time for sked and Syd put on a curry he had been preparing. We had a long chin wag and then decided to get side Tellurometer shot to NM/S/83 done. Tony went with Syd as booker after dropping Ian and I. They very carefully followed tracks up to Dicey Dome station. Cold in the wind with Temperature -12°F after the warm weather of past few days (+10°F). Readings OK but Tellurometer touchy to tune due to reflections.


Finished 0300 after verticals and we walked back to caravan to warm up and wait for Syd to return in Snow Trac. Went over and picked gear up, getting to bed at 0400.


Monday 18 December 1967

Up at 1230 worked on reduction of Tellurometer and angle books till tea at 2200 after VLV sked then packed some gear and sorted out survey and personal gear in Snow Trac in preparation for run to Twintop. Peter still carrying out Meteorological observations religiously. Syd and Bill wired up Clappa with Mr William 24-Volt generator to charge Tony's batteries and started this business at 1700 then let them charge till 0100 when Tony soon had his micropulsation gear warmed up and in operation again and running well. To bed at 0230 although Mark and Bill stayed up to watch batteries on charge till 0530.


Tuesday 19 December 1967

Syd up at 1230 to cook porridge and soup for breakfast then we packed the rest of our gear into Snow Trac, had a cup of coffee and left Depot A at 1620 in light drift and semi overcast weather for Twintop. Able to follow tracks most of way and visibility improved as we got further north and we had trouble free run to arrive at Twintop 2040, close under main western snow slope near lip of wind scour. Decided to occupy summit camp only and took load up and started erecting Beche tent before returning for unsuccessful sked at 2200 and another load of gear.


Decided to climb snow slope direct to summit but bergschrund necessitated traversing off to south western ridge two thirds of the way up as we had packs and no rope. I cut steps all the way up and Syd followed happily as he has little experience as yet in snow climbing but was accustomed to heights and rock exposure. Finished pitching tent and settled into it in poorish weather overcast as it has been all day. 0200 before we finished tea of curry and rice, Syd's old favourite. Pretty weary now.


Wednesday 20 December 1967

Up at 1200. Cooked breakfast, had a look outside, weak sun light shining through high mare’s tail cloud with wind from East seems threatening. Very good radio contact at 1700 to Depot A caravan arranged for Tellurometer sked from summit to Dicey Dome at 1900 with Mark.


Contact OK but weather cracking up, much shimmer and refraction on all Framnes beacons and also on Dicey Dome when heliograph contact established. Took several sets of angles to Lucas Nunatak, Dicey Dome, and Van Hulssen Nunatak but the results were a bit shaky due to conditions. Started to snow at 2030 and gave it away at 2100. Still snowing at 2400.


Thursday 21 December 1967

Snowing and we are in cloud. Worked on survey book reductions all day and read. Main tractor train and caravans still at Depot A with micropulsation readings continuing.


Friday 22 December 1967

Syd started cooking breakfast at 1130 and we were outside at 1300 putting up windbreak and clearing snow away from survey station. Visibility was fair so I read angle Van Hulssen to McNair 6 sets first order results. Sighted Dicey Dome beacon faintly about 1530 and began to read to it, very dicey target.


Noticed Snow Trac arrive there at 1630 so Syd went down mountain for an AN/GRC-9 sked and returned 1730 with Vaughan and aerials. Mark could not hear us too well on his AN/GRC-9 but we made out and he tried a 12-Volt Lucas signal lamp onto Twintop enabling readings to continue; Tellurometer contact 1830 to check lamp, finished angles at 1930 and Mark and Ian returned to main camp. Continued reading angles but hindered by classic star pattern snowflakes in sweeping snow storms one inch in diameter. Had stew with bully beef finished at 2400, it was very good. Tractor train still charging batteries at Depot A.


Saturday 23 December 1967

Snow covered mountain completely this morning, and cloud cover persisted preventing work. Cooked breakfast of porridge about midday and continued survey reductions on field books until evening when visibility improved to allow some angle reading. Went down for radio sked at 2115 then began daylight star computations. Tractor train still at Depot A.


Sunday 24 December 1967

Breakfast at 1130, weather semi clear but very cool wind. Obtained Sun Azimuth and then read to Fomalhaut, Canopus and Antares, which was so close to sun that the direct sunlight was just coming into the side of the T3 telescope. Finished at 1530 and went into tent for cup of soup fortified with bully beef. Tractor train still at Depot A.


Monday 25 December 1967

Cloudy strong wind, drifting but clearing overhead. Breakfast of porridge at midday and as special occasion had a small tin of Anchovies between us on sledges at 1530 after we had been out climbing on the steep snow and ice slope below the summit.


Continued daylight star predictions’ calculations until sked time when we glissaded the whole snow slope right from summit down to Snow Trac, then hurried back up to set up theodolite to read to 7 daylight stars, very cold on hands in wind. Boiled whiting and onion sauce for Christmas tea. Late to bed at 0330. Tractor train still at Depot A. Tony getting very good micropulsation readings.


Tuesday 26 December 1967

Weather indeterminate early but clearing during day. Read detail mapping rays to all visible Nunataks and main peaks, with cloud hanging over mountain and snow falling. Tractor train left Depot A at 2200 with all gear packed on train. Weather and visibility fair. Mark leading in Orange Bastard, Brian in Mr William and Ian in Clappa.


Wednesday 27 December 1967

Tractor train arrived Mount Twintop 1000. We packed survey gear down the mountain and went over and made caravaners a drink and woke them at 1500. Bill soon got up and together with Syd welded up a 2-drum beacon while the others slumbered on. Tony Kerr then helped Syd and I haul the beacon up the snow slope. A very hard job taking over 2 hours, then back to caravan at 2130 for sked and superb meal cooked by Bill - duck, chicken, plum pudding and ice cream with wine or beer. Greatly appreciated by all. Talked till 0500. Very hot in caravan after tent.


Thursday 28 December 1967

Unable to sleep so up at 0845 then Mark and Syd, Peter and all came up Twintop and helped erect a very solid 3-drum beacon were two previous types have been blown down in past two years. Packed up tent and equipment and glissaded down mountain with it. Repacked Snow Trac and drove over to main train where it was put safely aboard the Arctic sledge.


We had a cup of soup all round then started D4s and left at 1800, Mark and I in Orange Bastard, Tony driving Clappa, Brian in Mr William. Weather cloudy but pleasant. Tony having trouble with sledges and slings behind Clappa. Visibility fair. Refuelled at Twintop Depot in deteriorating weather with cloud and snow drifting across from mountains.


Extremely thick snow and cloud made us miss Joe's corner and adjoining marker south and with nothing at all visible we halted several times until visibility cleared momentarily enabling a brief glimpse of things. Picked up trail again at 62/11 and put a drum there. Continued to follow marked trail to its end in Hordern Gap.  Visibility quite poor and unable to see domes about. Pushed on because I reckon this place has an unearned bad reputation. Eventually hit the shattered slot area and turned north to the moraine boulders through this half mile area. We were soon at Hordern Depot 0100 and picked up toolbox left on the way out.


Friday 29 December 1967

Pushed on through poor visibility and surprisingly picked up old tracks, very little drift over them, great difference to further south. Stopped level with Mount Elliott dome at 0415 for a few hours of sleep as most of us pretty weary. However, Ian, Bill and Brian cleared out workshop caravan before bedding down, as we are leaving workshop here for next Depot trip coming straight back.


Awoke to alarm at 0830. Made a brew and everyone slowly stirred. Starting tractors and parking workshop caravan. Left 1000 in slight drift as wind has swung considerably south. Mark and I leading in Orange Bastard, Ian in Clappa, Brian in Mr William.


After passing Rumdoodle the whole surface was in a state of great melt with large sheets of water over ice and tractors often sinking in six inches in the waterlogged, rotten ice. We had been repeatedly warned by Mawson as to the state of melt lake and melt streams nearby and decided to cut across the immediate south slope of the melt lake to the Fischer route. This route proved very good only necessitating the crossing of one melt stream and then proceeding to the east side of Gwamm and directly to the watershed, avoiding all other crossings.


Reached Gwamm 1350 where we met Ken Bennett who gave us the state of the ice slope down to Mawson, which was OK, but mushy and melt pool below dog lines completely impossible so we parked near moraine just below old glaciology caravan.



Extracts from printed maps in the Mount Twintop and Depot Peak areas.


Mechanical Report



All vehicles used were extensively overhauled at Mawson previous to setting out. For repairs and work effected [see workshop log 1967 - not included here].


The three D4 tractors were serviced as follows :


Fuel : ATK throughout

Oils : SAE 10

Diesel engines


Viscostatic Transmissions

Final drives & Winches

Cooling System

ATK throughout

Starting engines

Track rollers

Low temperature grease to all points

Ice grousers fitted to every fourth plate


Vehicles used


Vehicle Type


Three D4 Caterpillar Tractors

 Nos.1, 2 and 3

Two Snow Tracs

 No.7 and No.8

One Polaris motor toboggan

 Reserve vehicles for survey work




Orange Bastard

374 miles.

Mr William

374 miles.


280 miles.

Snow Trac No.7

150 miles.

Snow Trac No.8

30 miles.


NIL (Thank goodness).


Fuel Economy



Miler per Gallon (mpg)

Outward Average

0.7 sometimes down to 0.6

Return Average

0.9 and always under 1

Snow Tracs


 used without sledges



Major Engineering Equipment

Herman Nelson aviation hot air heater only used once on trip to thaw out the micropulsation Lister generator when flywheel iced up due to running in drift with close cowling fitting.


Lincoln Welder only used to weld survey beacons at Depot Peak, NM/S/92, NM/S/87, Depot A and Twintop. Ran well, lowest temperature during use was -20°F. Found to be very awkward to start inside workshop caravan and heavy to lift in and out.


Oxy-Acetylene equipment not used.




Briggs & Stratton Generator

On the previous Frustration Dome trip, the field rectifier failed and the faulty half of the bridge rectifier was replaced using different diodes. At Depot A when the engine was started the Volts came up and died away and it was found that the other half was shorted. Repairs were made using diodes from the TAS generator and it then ran for two hours charging batteries. The engine was stopped for an oil check after two hours and on restarting and switching on the Volts again died away. It is felt that the switching on of the highly inductive battery charger causes a voltage spike which breaks down the diodes.


Mr William’s Generator

The 24-Volt generator system and switches were used to charge the tractor batteries and the living caravan batteries. As no spares were available, wire wound resistors were monitored on the regulator and their values were such that the full 20 amps charging capacity could be had at a fast idle. This arrangement kept the batteries charged through the trip but at Depot A the generator was mounted on Clappa as it will be RTA (Returned To Australia) in 1968, thus saving engine hours on Mr William.


General Comments

No overnight running during the whole trip. Tractors were started in temperatures down to -13°F, after careful inspection had been made of oil consistency. Herman Nelson was not required for tractor use the whole trip.


Engine inlet and outlets were stuffed with rag and covered with tins to stop drift each time tractors shut down.


In conditions encountered, that is mainly 0°F to +10°F with occasional lapses to -15°F, Mr William’s chain drive starting system and 24-Volt arrangement was found superior to the belt types. Tow bars on Nansen sledges were not very serviceable, 3 having broken and the fourth in bad repair. They wear through on the edge of the shafts which have only a 5/16 inch bearing edge onto the steel sides of the sledge and would be better with an inset boss.


Again, under conditions encountered the heavy but very strong, solid and reliable articulated sledges gave little trouble digging in deep, occasionally dipping the front of the ski under. The nut worked off the bolt holding the rear of the workshop caravan onto the articulated sledge causing the caravan to slip off the rear turntable. This was rectified by cutting through the floor of the caravan and replacing it. D4s were always watched carefully by somebody sitting in the cabin while the tractor warmed up after starting, until the oil warmed up thoroughly. They were then driven with no load to ensure complete circulation of oil before being loaded with caravan train.


Two bars were always used and found to be very much better than towing on overwound winch cable. The winch cable was shackled onto the rigid towing bar of the first sledge as a safety measure.


Sliding doors on the D4 cabins are not a success as now being worn and somewhat aged they tend to slide open all the time or jam shut.


Track rollers were lubricated every 50 miles.


Orange Bastard (Tractor No.4)

This machine performed excellently throughout by far the best for pulling, hung on very well and did not bog easily. The cabin is much better for driver comfort, being bigger and with more positive doors and wider roof hatch makes it very good for navigating. The only disadvantage being the small fuel cap which tends to ice up easily.


A reconditioned carburettor had been fitted on its starting engine at Mawson and trouble was had with this flooding but rectified by careful manual use of fuel tap control. Master clutch adjusted once. A watch was kept on hydraulic changeover valve shutting off lock as this worked loose causing slow response to hydraulic controls.


Mr William (Tractor No.3)

Master clutch adjusted once. Developed rear main oil leak letting oil into master clutch so became an oil clutch. Oil was frequently drained from the master clutch. Starting engine keeper from left hand exhaust guide became unseated but engine was not stripped down due to constant drift. Machine was thereafter started on one cylinder or tow started.


It was necessary to drain injector pump four times as the oil became emulsified early in the trip. The injector pump on Mr William was that removed from Orange Bastard [see workshop log - not included here].


During March 1967 Mr William was driven into the melt lake and consequently all compartments became filled with water thus explaining this emulsified oil condition in the injector pump. Tractor had been fitted with a somewhat dicey 24-Volt regulated system for charging batteries and needed careful use. Track was adjusted once and the tractor performed very well.


Clappa (Tractor No.1)

This machine was in a rather poor state at changeover 1966-67 as it was due to be RTA and replaced, but due to unloaded Repstat cargo the replacement could not be unloaded so Clappa was overhauled in the workshop during winter [see workshop log – not included here].


The lack of a tow bar proved a considerable handicap in pulling loads on soft snow, causing the tractor to dig in at the back and bog down. On firm going towing was done by means of a heavy cable around the winch drum, however this was not a success and towing was continued on overwound winch. A dint in the fuel line caused blockages once at the top. Master clutch had bad oil leaking into it same as Mr William and only adjusted once.


At Depot A on return the micropulsation batteries were charged up with Clappa after the regulating system had been transferred to it from Mr William with the excessive idling the injectors had to be cleaned twice. This machine performed very well mechanically throughout.


Snow Tracs

Virtually no trouble at all was had with these vehicles although they were used as little as possible. No.7 split a track at Depot B once and Eberspacher on No.8 went unserviceable due to loose fuel fittings allowing air into fuel lines.


A light roof rack was fitted to No.7 for sleeping bags and mats as Snow Tracs were used as separate survival units and no sledges were towed behind them except for a beacon up to Dicey Dome. This roof rack worked extremely well as sleeping bags, mats and empty rucksacks are nuisances inside the small cab.


The Snow Tracs were easily and securely dogged onto wide Norwegians with planks nailed along the top on either side and dogged front and rear with chain.


Micropulsation Generator

As no generator was sent down to charge batteries for the micropulsation trip, (which relies entirely on battery power for the recording instrument) it was necessary to build one up at Mawson. A Lister air cooled diesel engine was overhauled and mounted on a wooden smith sledge for easy transport and stability. A Weasel 12-Volt generator was attached to the Lister and the unit was given a trial run at Mawson. This proved satisfactory and the engine started easily and consumed little fuel. The Lister was installed on a 5 foot snow mound to avoid some drift and initially proved easy to start.


However, when running in drift the snow tended to melt on the cylinder running down the air cooling duct and freezing around the fan assembly making the engine labour and then stalling and freezing solid. This occurred whilst Tractor Train was at Depot A on return from Twintop and was thawed with Herman Nelson heater, after which it ran quite satisfactorily. The trouble happened again and, on my suggestion, Tony smashed a hole in the bottom of the fan housing allowing melted drift to run away.


Bill Butler

Senior Diesel Mechanic and Station plant inspector


Survey Report


Although not on the original survey program for 1967, the opportunity for an inland oversnow Tellurometer traverse became an idea in July/August. It depended on completion of the Church Mountain traverse and approval to combine it with the inland fuel depoting task to Depot Peak. The Twintop to Depot peak survey traverse was originally carried out in 1965 by Max Corry and a check was required because all stations were on a moving ice sheet, and due to its geodetic importance in relation to the inland mountains.


Map of John Manning’s 1967 route and Tellurometer traverse stations occupied between Mount Twintop and Depot Peak (after Corry, 1969).


On completion of the Church Mountain work, a further request by me to cut down on the number of stations used in original traverse was approved by National Mapping as long as sufficient original stations were connected to enable glaciology flows to be determined.


Tellurometer performance

MR337 and MR360 were the instruments used; each line was measured both ways and these instruments worked well and gave very close results throughout.


Greatest Difference in Readings

Tellurometers were elevated twice only, once onto the roof of living caravan and once on 3 single 44-gallon drums. This was done at one end of the line only as a precaution and not necessarily essential. The instruments proved capable of reading distances that were not directly intervisible. Drifting snow causes much interference with signal when it is thick, on lines over 20 miles long. The Tellurometers worked well over a 36 miles line when there was no drift and throughout I found no sign of absorption of signal by the snow surface limiting operation of the instruments. No difference in reception was noticed whether stations were on rock or snow, I don't consider the limits of these instruments were approached under drift free conditions. On a 32 mile line where drift on intermediate ridges was making tuning difficult, reception and tuning was quite workable with the Tellurometers left on the Measure sequence setting throughout and prearranged clicks were used to signify end of sequences for the remote. Tuning on speak tune or speak AGC was dicey and not nearly as good or stable as on Measure setting tune. Millimicrosecond Dial Type readouts were used throughout and really worked well. Initial contact was made with remote on Cavity 100 as the signal often fell off at 040 setting.


Tellurometer legs measured


Stations occupied

Distance (Miles)

Mount Twintop - Dicey Dome


Dicey Dome - NM/S/85


NM/S/85 - NM/S/87


NM/S/37 - NM/S/88


NM/S/88 - NM/S/90


NM/S/90 - NM/S/91


NM/S/91 - NM/S/92


NM/S/92 - Peak 4, Depot Peak




All horizontal angles were read with T3 No.83103. At least 4 sets at each station. Reciprocal verticals were read with T2 one end of line and T3 at the other end. Conditions of refraction made much shimmer over low snow ridges with any sun radiation about. This had effect on some results. At least 12 pairs of verticals were read each end of every Tellurometer line. Generally, the targets were elevated and theodolites used on ground as I found the Snow Trac roof to be unstable when standing on it using theodolite, although at NM/S/85 satisfactory results were obtained by jacking the Snow Trac for stability and setting up T3 on tripod with legs secured in holes in roof and using crevasse rescue plank supported separately above Snow Trac roof to stand on. Twice the T3 was elevated directly over station mark by using legs on three stabilised 44-gallon drums and standing on separate drums. The T2 worked well although it is a bit fiddley to use in the cold. The T3 is a beautiful instrument to use in the cold; usually the x30 eyepiece was used. Trouble was had in maintaining adjustment of the alidade bubble as the mounting became loose.


Atmospheric Readings

Thommen Geodesic Altimeters were used throughout and worked well and gave consistent readings and contrary to autumn trip gave no trouble. Lambrecht Assman Psychrometers were used as unfortunately no hair hydrographs were available, the working of the wet bulb below freezing is a fine art with which fortunately Mark as a senior meteorological man was experienced. However great difficulty was experienced in obtaining a true temperature reading due to radiation effects on unscreened thermometers.



Drum Beacons or adjacent stakes were used throughout as a station marker for horizontal back sight beacons. Good use was made of heliographs and Lucas lamps over both short and long distances and I rate these items as essential equipment.


Conditions are very changeable and I generally used the motto if you can see it, read it now! Whilst on Dicey Dome I could see the single-drum beacon on Twintop clearly although twice previously there was no chance. A 4 fuel drum beacon was left on Peak 4 Depot Peak and a 3-drum beacon on Mount Twintop, whilst along the traverse route 1, 2, 3 or 4-drum beacons were used depending on distance and visibility of stations.


Astro Observations

As the sun remained above the horizon for 24 hours after 26 November 1967, daylight stars were required and these were calculated with Alt-A3 tables varying time to suit GHA and longitude. Astros were read at each end of the traverse and I would have liked to have read sunshots along the route but overcast conditions always existed, except once when time was too important. Stars read mainly for Azimuth control, using time hour angles based on time signals; 6 stars at Depot Peak and 10 stars at Twintop.



One Tellurometer line was measured from Twintop on 8 November 1967. Remainder of traverse was commenced from Depot Peak on 17 December 1967 after a bad month of weather during which 27 days had moderate or thicker drift. Final Tellurometer line was measured 17 December 1967 and final angle at Twintop on 22 December 1967. Panoramic photos were taken at stations when weather permitted.



Generally, a good safe route if you know what you are up to and stay off the top of the domes.


Navigation tables prepared by Max Corry in 1965 were used and found to be very good indeed, with only a couple of small errors in distances and description of markers. The route is very well marked and worth the effort to stay on.


In good weather there is no difficulty at all in staying on the trail but during the trip we were nearly always travelling in drift or partial whiteout. Overcast conditions of whiteout with no shadows usually give better visibility for sighting trail markers and are good to travel in if you can see the ground well enough.


In conditions of moderate drift with naked eye visibility down to about 100 yards, vision with binoculars is usually about 3 miles. Good progress could be made if there was enough sun coming through the drift for the Astrocompass to be set.


Direction was constantly monitored by watching the Astrocompass and taking distance by timing on the D4s known speed, in 8 cases out of 10 the next marker came slowly into view through the murk. When no marker was sighted on time the tractor was halted and a careful look around with the binoculars whilst seated on cab roof of D4. This practically always produced the missing marker. On rare occasions when this was unsuccessful the higher vantage point of the living caravan roof was used, bracing the binoculars against the meteorological screen. This was a better vantage point but rarely necessary and much harder to use binoculars in the greater wind stream causing eyes to water. The use of binoculars is a bit of an art in the very cold weather as the eyepieces are always fogging from breath and heat of the face.


I found the Astrocompass very good throughout, though it takes a thrashing on the D4 and should be removed for travel when not required, especially if travelling over ablated ice.


Corry's marked route to Depot Peak is very well done but the last couple of miles where he reported slots, runs up slightly onto a dome, and the better route is to head towards the west end of Depot Peak from 2 miles out avoiding this section.


Navigation along a previously well marked trail was found to be pretty easy in good weather as long as you have a good knowledge of the use and limitations of Astro and Magnetic compasses. (A prismatic compass varied 30 degrees when moved in the D4 cabin whilst moving). It helps to have two persons in the lead tractor cab, a navigator with very good eyesight, a pair of quality 7 x 50 binoculars and a driver capable of keeping a straight line in poor visibility. On unmarked country an understanding of the terrain and the formation of slot areas in relation to domes is imperative to stay out of trouble.


No crevasses were encountered whilst on the marked trail except for a mile within Hordern Gap, which was ablated to blue ice at the time. Apart from that it is my opinion that anyone who is gets in trouble with slots on the highway is not on the right route. For navigation tables and direction see later Field Report by John Erskine.



I would like to record how much I enjoyed working with such a competent, cooperative and helpful team; no one could have had better support.


John Manning


                                                                                                  Mawson Feb 1968

Radio Communication Report




Radio Equipment Carried in Living Caravan













Aerials :


2720 Dipole


2720 Doublet


Long Wire (2720/4040)


Helical Whip (4040/5400)


4040 Dipole


5400 Dipole


Snow Trac (No.7)







Aerials :


2720 Dipole


2720 Doublet



Radio Conditions During Traverse

Main frequency used on traverse 2720 both ways. Found that Long Wire Aerial was most suitable. Used Dipole only twice on whole trip, due to the advantage of easy handling with the long wire.


During last two weeks of traverse 4040 was used mainly as VLV not receiving me too well on 2720. Found that QRM that has been relevant on 4040 all year, was negative for this period.


On the whole, found radio conditions good for period of traverse, failing only twice to make contact on primary sked at 1530 but contact made OK on secondary sked 0145.


Trouble Experienced with Equipment



Lost use of one AN/GRC-9 two days out. Replaced with spare which gave no trouble for rest of trip. On return to VLV technicians found final anode tuning coil burnt out. Both Snow Trac AN/GRC-9s gave no trouble.



Had trouble with two Dynamotors, one in Snow Trac and one in caravan. Both proved to be Ballast Valve failures. These replaced with spares and no trouble from then on.



Two IF stage valve failures during trip. These replaced with spares and gave good performance for Time Checks, Joy Box, and Saturday Sporting Programme when conditions OK.



Only trouble experienced with aerial setup was when one insulator broke when tightening long wire to same. Remedied this by soldering loop in end of aerial so could just slide end on. This proved most satisfactory as before, when trying to undo screws in cold weather was very awkward and uncomfortable with bare hands. Also had two breaks in long wire whilst digging same out after drifting over, but fixed these with good old soldering iron and insulation tape.


Brian Jackson

Radio Operator





N.B.  Stuff marked *K.W. to be kept warm till departure then stacked high in living caravan.




Tinned Soup

Tomato, Scotch Broth, Chicken, Beef & Veg. (4 x 24)

96 Tins

Tinned Meats

Corned Beef


Steak & Vegetables




Irish Stew


Pork Sausages


Tom Piper Braised Steak






Herrings in Tomato Sauce






Jams & Spreads

Apricot Conserve






Fig Conserve


Strawberry Conserve




*K.W. Peanut Butter

8 Jars

*K.W. Lemon Butter

6 Jars

*K.W. Vegemite

6 Jars

Honey (Clear) 

16 small or 8 large tins

Honey (Creamed) 

8 tins

Golden Syrup

2 tins

*K.W. Tinned Milk (Unsweetened)

48 tins

*K.W. Tinned Milk (Sweetened)

24 tins

Powdered Milk (6 tins per case)

4 cases

Sauces (All *K.W.)


10 Bottles







Mustard Pickles


Fruit Chutney


Tinned Juices


2 Cases


1 Case


As much as possible


1 Case

Tinned Vegetables


20 tins



Green Peas


Green Beans




Baked Beans




Frozen Vegetables (Stack in box in fridge with pies)


2 Pkts.


2 Pkts.


1 Pkt.


1 Pkt.


1 Pkt.

Cooking "Oils"

Peanut or Olive Oil

1 Gal. Tin

Lard (2 lb. tins)

6 tins

Dehydrated Vegetables




Pronto Potato (Instant Mash)

4 Gal.  3 tins

(One tin in caravan)

Drinks (Hot)


3 lb.  1 tin

Coffee  "Robert Tims"

10 tins

Nescafe  24 x 2 oz

4 lbs.


3 Pkts.


48 Pkts.

*K.W. Bonox

20 Jars



Salt (2 lb. tins)

4 tins

Pepper (little tins)

3 tins




Pie Apple (6 lbs.)

1 tin

Prunes (6 lbs.)

1 tin



Dates 3 x 7 lb.  tins (21 lbs.)


Chocolates (Pkts.  1 doz.)

20 Pkts.


Tip Top

Choc Mints

Playing Cards

4 Pkts.



Flour 25 lbs.

Works Caravan (Already)

Rolled Oats (8 x 16 oz.)

2 small tins

Large quantity already packed


4 or 5 tins

Dry Spaghetti

4 Pkts.





1 case Slegies

1 case

Assorted 6 tins already packed


1 Tin SAO




Cornflakes (One x 4 gal.)

1 tin

Sugar 80 lbs.

2 tins

Sweets Plum Puddings

30 tins



Tinned Fruit



48 tins


48 tins

Fruit Salad

48 tins


48 tins


48 tins

Instant Desserts

12 Pkts.



Cordials (To be decanted into plastic jars)




) 3 doz. bottles



Cordial Powder

Orange 2 lb. tins

1 tin

Lemon   2 lb. tins

1 tin




(10 lbs.? )



Curry Powder

1 tin



*K.W. Pickled Onions

6 Jars



Dehydrated Soups



80 Pkts.


Butter 1 case

56 lbs.



Beverages (Beer, Rum)




Egg Powder

1 tin

Tinned Spaghetti

48 tins



Ration Packs


(one each Snow Trac, 6 spare on sledge)



Fresh Meat








Pies (Meat)




Sausage (Pork German)




Cheese (Cheddar)


Cheese (Edam)









1 pr.  A.N.A.R.E.  trousers

1 pr.  trail mitts

2 pr. trigger mitts wide wrist

2 pr. woollen inners (Norwegians if possible)

2 wool shirts

2 string singlets

4 pr. good condition socks

2 pr. footwear sets (thermals or Mukkluks)

1  A.N.A.R.E.  hat

1 balaclava

1 set Ventiles

3 pr. pyjama or long johns

2 woollen singlets

2 woollen sweaters

2 pr. Wristlets

1 pr. instrument gloves

1 pr. Goggles

1 scarf

1 housewife

Down suit optional


2 pre. inner & outer gloves extra


1 pr. inner & outer gloves extra


1 pr. instrument gloves extra each

EMERGENCY RESERVE - 8 men for 2 months

2 Ventile sets

1 down suit

6 pr. woollen gloves

6 pr. outer gloves

6 pr. good socks

4 pr. Wristlets

3 pr. Goggles

4 pr. instrument gloves

2 pr. work trousers



This year Mawson has been very short of field clothing and not much was available for the spring trip, personal requirements and reserve were kept to a minimum and care was taken with clothes in the field and quite a lot of mending was carried out.


In the warm conditions generally encountered the clothing was not especially important, particularly with a caravan to retreat to and dry things out.

Many items which we found inadequate during the year at temperatures below -20°F were now thoroughly adequate because of the better conditions.


Reference [2018]

Corry, MJ (1969), Australian Antarctic Territory Framnes Mountains to Depot Peak Tellurometer Traverse November 1965 - January 1966; Division of National Mapping Technical Report No 7, Department of National Development, Canberra, 1969.


Conclusion April 2018

The success of the fuel depoting and oversnow survey traverse was clearly due to the hard work and immense support from all team members throughout, which stands out on reading the narrative of the trip 50 years later. The results were very satisfying to me then and still are now. I also need to acknowledge the efforts of Karen and Laurie McLean and Paul Wise in cleaning up my account and transcribing the text. Thank you all again.


John Manning


Navigation Tables : Mount Twintop to Depot B via Depot A only

(Extracted by hand by John Manning in 1967 from Max Corry’s 1965 original.)