Other expeditions to Cape Adare

Credit: Scott Polar Research Institute

NATIONAL ANTARCTIC (DISCOVERY) EXPEDITION 1901–1904


On 9 January 1902 Captain Scott’s National Antarctic Expedition steamed into Robertson Bay on the Discovery. The ship visited the Cape Adare base left by Borchgrevink’s expedition (there was a message left on the hut table by Borchgrevink). The party noted considerable deterioration of the supplies that had been left stored around the huts. 

Dr Wilson described what they saw on arrival: “We found bundles of Union Jacks lying about and posted two on the roof. I took one away with me as a souvenir. The litter was very interesting and the waste excessive. Ski, Canadian snow shoes, bamboo poles, dead dogs, seals and bundles of birds, penguins and provisions … yet inside [the hut], the provisions were in excellent order.” 

Louis Bernacchi repeats magnetic observations on Ridley Beach in 1902, Cape Adare

Before the end of the expedition, which was based in Winter Quarters Bay on Ross Island, other visits were made to Cape Adare. A year after the Discovery called on its voyage south, the relief vessel Morning, under Colbeck, who had also been a member of Borchgrevink’s party, arrived on 
8–9 January 1903. Scott’s message (left behind a year earlier) was collected and, like Wilson, Colbeck was appalled at the mess: 

“The scene around us was heartbreaking, stores of every description, tins of dog biscuits, ammunition, broken ski, sledges, camp stoves, etc, lying from beach to beach. Eleven barrels of engine oil on the south side of the hut (the stores hut) caught Morrison’s eye at once. There must be hundreds of pounds of stuff lying about and waiting. There were 2½ barrels of seal skins ready for shipment and any amount of skins had blown off the hut.” (Colbeck)

The Terra Nova and Discovery called again at Cape Adare on 24 February 1904 on their way north where a replacement rudder was shipped on the Discovery.

BRITISH ANTARCTIC EXPEDITION 1910–1913 NORTHERN PARTY


After the 1904 visit there were no visitors to the base until 1911. The Eastern Party of Scott’s second expedition had originally intended to be based on the Ross Ice Shelf where they intended to explore King Edward Land. This idea was abandoned and the wintering party of six, led by Lieutenant Victor Campbell RN, was put ashore on Ridley Beach from the Terra Nova at midnight on 18 January. They then became known as the ‘Northern Party’ and embarked on a number of biological, meteorological and geological studies. 

The Northern Party’s hut of Baltic pine, of a more conventional design using weatherboards rather than interlocking boards, was erected about 20 metres north of Borchgrevink’s huts. Thirty tons of stores and equipment, including five tons of coal, was put ashore and a beach ridge was levelled for the hut. 

View of the Huts at Cape Adare taken by Northern Party 1912.

USING WHAT THEY FOUND

While their hut was being built, Campbell and his men occupied Borchgrevink’s stores hut. A roof of canvas was put over the top and anchored down with battens. Inside, it was partitioned with boxes of supplies, sleeping platforms of match-boarding were made around walls and a small blubber stove and ice-melter were installed. A latrine was built outside using supply cases against the west hut wall. The stove in the living hut wasn’t very good and the hut was later used for photography and recreation.

The hut had a double lining and was insulated with Gibson Quilting - finely shredded seaweed within two layers of hessian. An Allen acetylene generator provided lighting, and a stove incorporating some of Borchgrevink’s stove flue was used for heating and cooking. Many other items including a ship’s anchor were commandeered from Borchgrevink’s supplies. At the other end of the hut a barrel of Colza oil was frozen into the ground.

A stores annex enclosed the cold porch; a windbreak was added. Later, an icehouse for meat storage was built nearby from packing cases and may have also served as a laundry. On 4 March, Campbell and his party moved in to their new hut where they had “a great house warming, gramophone concert [and] whisky toddy”. But within two weeks, a severe storm resulted in the men having grave fears for the future of their hut and in June the first parts of the building came off.

The party went sledging in winter and twice occupied a cave they named the ‘Abbey Cave’ at Penelope Point (after Captain Pennell of the Terra Nova), on the west side of Robertson Bay. Valuable scientific observations were made in meteorology and the first detailed study of the Adélie penguin rookery was done by Dr Levick. 

WAITING FOR THE TERRA NOVA

In December, while keeping watch for the Terra Nova, a depot and camp was set up on Cape Adare. On 3 January 1912, the Terra Nova arrived and collected the party, moving them further south to Evan’s Cove in Terra Nova Bay. 

But the Terra Nova couldn’t pick up the party before winter, and they passed the brutal winter sheltering in a cave lined with seaweed and pebbles - three officers on one side, three seamen on the other. The men eventually trekked down the coast, subsisting on seals and penguins, until they made it to Cape Roberts where they picked up a depot, and crossed the sea ice to Hut Point on 6 November. They then marched on to Cape Evans where they met the Terra Nova on 18 January 1913.

VLA Campbell headshot
Victor Campbell
Levick headshot
George Levick
Priestley headshot
Raymond Priestley

MEET THE CREW OF THE NORTHERN PARTY

Victor Campbell: 35, Lieutenant RN, Leader
Born in 1875. First officer on Terra Nova and Leader of the Eastern (afterwards Northern) Party that left Cape Evans to set up a base in King Edward VII Land. Wintered at Cape Adare in 1911 and at Inexpressible Island in 1912. He was promoted to Commander and fought in the Dardanelles during the First World War, and was awarded DSO, OBE, and the Polar Medal. He immigrated to Newfoundland in 1922 and died there in 1956. The Campbell Glacier and Campbell Glacier Tongue in Terra Nova Bay, commemorate him.

George Murray Levick: 33, Surgeon, RN
Born in 1877. Qualified at St Bartholomew’s Hospital, London, in 1922. Later joined the Royal Navy and, while not a scientist, was a careful and patient observer. In 1914 he published a definitive work on Antarctic penguins. He wintered at Cape Adare in 1911 and at Inexpressible Island in 1912 as a surgeon, zoologist and photographer. In 1932 he founded the British Schools Exploring Society and became president. Died in 1956. Mount Levick (2,390m) on the north-west side of the Tourmaline Plateau in the Deep Freeze Range commemorates him.

Raymond Edward Priestley: 24, Geologist 
Born in 1886. Educated at Tewkesbury Grammar School and Bristol University. A member of the Nimrod Expedition 1907–09 and studied the rocks of Victoria Land at the University of Sydney. He joined the Terra Nova Expedition in 1910, wintered at Cape Adare in 1911 and at Inexpressible Island in 1912 as geologist and meteorologist. 

His research on Antarctic glaciers earned him a BA (Research) at Cambridge.  He became Vice-Chancellor Melbourne University, Vice-Chancellor and Chancellor of the University of Birmingham, Chairman of the Royal Commission on the Civil Service (1953), Deputy Director of the former Falkland Islands Dependencies Survey (now British Antarctic Survey). He was knighted in 1949, received the Polar Medal and Bar and the Royal Geographical Society’s Founders Medal, and was President of the Royal Geographical Society 1961–63. Died in 1974. 

Features named after Sir Raymond Priestley are Mount Priestley (1,100m) rising on the north side of David Glacier in the Prince Albert Mountains of Victoria Land, the Priestley Glacier on the edge of the Polar Plateau, Priestley Neve at the head of the Priestley Glacier and Priestley Peak on the south side of Amundsen Bay in Enderby Land.

Frank Browning: Petty Officer RN
Born in Devonshire, England. Joined the Terra Nova expedition from HMS Talbot. He wintered at Cape Adare in 1911 and at Inexpressible Island in 1912. Mount Browning (760m) and Browning Pass in Victoria Land are named after him. 

Harry Dickason: Able Seaman RN
A Londoner who joined the Terra Nova from HMS Defiance. He wintered at Cape Adare in 1911 and at Inexpressible Island in 1912. Mount Dickason (2,030m) is at the head of the Boomerang Glacier in Victoria Land.

George Abbott: Petty Officer RN
Joined the Terra Nova from HMS Talbot, and wintered at Cape Adare in 1911 and at Inexpressible Island in 1912. Features named for PO George Abbott are Mount Abbott (1,020m) in the Northern Foothills in Victoria Land and Abbott Peak on the north side of Mount Erebus on Ross Island.

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