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Jack's Donga

In August 2017, the then Station Leader at Casey, Jacque Comrey reported:

 I was digging through the filing cabinet in my Station Leader office, and came across some interesting correspondence addressed to Alison Deans the SL in 2014. It was from a man by the name of Jack Field.  This was Jack!  of Jack's Donga fame!  Below is an extract from Jack in his letter to Ali, about how the hut was set up.  What is now the toilet, was originally the entire hut.   These days we have a 4 bunk hut off to cook and sleep in and only use the original Jack's Donga for well, the bathroom!

           What a view!   latitude 66° 13' 41.9" S   Longitude: 110° 39' 11.9" E

Neil Simmons very kindly found an AAD link with a complete range of photos over the years  https://data.aad.gov.au/aadc/gaz/images.cfm?gaz_id=51011

Winston Nickols,( Radio Tech  in 1968:) I have memories of a Sunday stroll to see this, to me, ‘mystic’ site, Jack’s Donga.    And there it was, from memory with a stack of trail food and I think a stove. What a place, what a view.....I especially remember that day because I put a foot through an ice bridge, saw a disk of ice fall away below me and only then realised I had crossed ice covered slots as I came up from the sea ice!

Not unlike this report from Winston, here is one of Jack's 'yarns,' as relayed by his wife Diana: this story involved Jack and a single companion, Keith Fletcher, heading up the slope across the snow towards the donga.   They were only carrying backpacks, with Keith in the lead and Jack occasionally stopping to turn around and admire the view. After one such pause, he turned back to resume his climb, and found that his mate had disappeared. As Jack looked around in bewilderment. he heard a faint cry for help. The sun's glare on the ice made it hard to distinguish changes in the surface, but on investigating carefully, he discovered that Keith had fallen through the surface into a crevasse. By enormous good fortune, a bulge in the ice just at that point had wedged against his backpack and prevented him falling more than a few feet.    They had no ropes, but Jack was able to lie face down and reach just far enough to catch his hand and haul him up.      Their fate if they had been walking side by side does not bear thinking about.   They had no means of communication with them, and were not expected back till the next day.



I am the "Jack" after whom Jack's Donga is named.

We have noticed quite a few variations in the story of how the donga came to be, so you may all be interested to hear it from the horse's mouth.

I was the cook at Wilkes in 1962, and while that was a nice warm situation, I also enjoyed getting out and about as much as possible. Two of us used to hike along the sea-ice and up to the ridge where the donga is located for a day's outing. We occasionally took a dogsled and stayed overnight on the ridge in a two man tent, including one memorable time when we had trouble sleeping because of the groaning noises all around us. Early next morning, I pulled one of the tent pegs out and discovered it left a hole that went all the way down to nowhere!

Eventually it occurred to me to ask our dieso Gringo (Nev Collins) if we could use the abandoned D4 cabin as a hut. After some minor mishaps (pictures attached) it was duly transported and installed by him.

Our only mod cons in those days were two single bunks, one above the other, with the lower one being used as a seat when the upper one was folded up.

It's great to see how the site has continued to give pleasure to so many over the years, especially with the new and improved accommodation. However, it's also great to see the original cab still giving splendid service as the world's best "loo with a view"."

His daughter Amanda, who made contact originally, January 2018, writes:  The Wilkes, 1962 year was one of five ANARE expeditions he took part in  (Macquarie Island 1951, 1953, Mawson 1957; 1975, and Wilkes 1962).   He's still in pretty good health and memory - he will be turning 90 in June.

Jack refers to a D4 cab in his letter as the frame structure, but the evidence, from a photo displayed with the 2017 Blog spot http://winterat66south.blogspot.com.au/  shows it is actually a Caterpillar tractor type 955 cab.  [, a 955 is the same as a D4, they both had the same engine. I was present when Jack and Keith Fletcher ( our eleco ) were placing the donga on the hill. Don Seedsman]

Jack's Donga being towed to its site by a Weasel