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9-Canwe to the Boomerang

10 January 1912

Campbell writes ‘overslept ourselves, not turning out until 7’.  Tired from the first day’s sledging, and the lack of sleep the previous night, possibly contributed to this little indulgence.  However,  they quickly prepared their breakfast hoosh, stowed their gear and were on their way by 9 am. Heading north over the piedmont ice close to the northern foothills between them and Mount Melbourne, they were looking for a route to Wood Bay.

Snow had begun to fall and with a slightly uphill route, the sledges were difficult to pull.  After struggling all morning, noon found them rounding a point of land  on which we found a quantity of lichen and came on to a smooth glacier, easy gradient and snow covered, which I hoped  came from Mount Melbourne’.[i] This point of land they called Cape Mossyface.  

Cape Mossyface/Cape Canwe—Campbell in his diaries refer to Cape Mossyface[ii] on the 10th and again on 31 January.  While later Priestly, in his book written after returning to England, refers to seeing Levick's party camped at Cape Canwe [iii] at the entrance to the Melbourne Glacier (Browning Pass) on 29 January.  We now know this feature as Cape Canwe.[iv]

 Now they were entering a wide open valley. A glacial valley they hoped was a route to the lower slopes Mount Melbourne and hence Wood Bay.  However, the view ahead was limited as the snow had increased and visibility deteriorated.   Not wanting to proceed up a cul-de-sac Campbell stopped setting up camp, had lunch while waiting  for the weather to clear and the route  forward  certain. 

Campbell would have assumed that this valley they had turned in to was the outflow of what he called the Melbourne Glacier and as such a route to Mount Melbourne.  Being the first to explore the region they had no maps to help them. Therefore, to be confident that this was the correct route he needed to see Mount Melbourne.

Unfortunately In the afternoon the snow increased and with visibility reduced to 10 feet, making the way ahead uncertain and sledging on a glacier dangerous.  They camped for the night and caught up on some sleep.


[i] The Wicked Mate.  The Antarctic Diary of Victor Campbell., ed by H.G.R. King (Archival Facsimiles Ltd, 2001), p. 114.

[ii] King, p. 114.

[iii] Raymond Edward Priestley, Antarctic Adventure; Scott’s Northern Party (General Books LLC, 1913), p. 210.

[iv] John Stewart, Antarctica: An Encyclopedia -  Vol. 1, 1st edn (McFarland & Company, 1990), p. 165.

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