585 Antarctic Expedition to Naval Board

Teleprinter Message HEARD ISLAND, 29 December 1947, 4 p.m.


Having unloaded bulk equipment established camp site Campbell considered time officially proclaim Heard Island Australian Territory. All personnel working ashore gathered round humble flag pole improvised then buoy staff formed two parties one of expedition one sailors listened intently while Campbell read proclamation which was then duly signed by him behalf Commonwealth witnessed Lieut. Commander Dixon comma Burgess Navy Mr. Abbotsmith expeditioners. It was then placed in metal container beside foot of flag staff. Party stood at attention historic bugle sounded present while Australian National flag crept slowly upwards and finally broke out fluttered in icy wind over this new Australian Territory as a finale gave three rousing cheers. The King.

Bulk stores equipment had been transferred from ship to shore through the 22 hours of calm weather in 18 consecutive days when the ship was able to beach. The remainder about 50 tons in all had to be transferred from off shore anchorage by small beaching craft which were manoeuvred by hand through surf finally hauled beach bulldozer first piece equipment landed when L.S.T. beached. Over 200 drums oil lowered over ships side and assisted by wind and swell floated ashore on tide when they were hauled high and dry by recovery parties pontoons which had been improvised when other craft found unsuitable used lighter heaviest cases. A desperate race against time to haul last pontoon ashore which had been battered by the heavy swell and had sprung. David Eastman official photographer with expedition and party descended steep perilous side rocky cliffs to film domestic life in a rookery of over 10,000 penguins situated at base might pinnacle needle line rock rising over 200 feet sheer out sea joined to foot cliffs by short peninsula parade ground quaint fascinating inhabitants of Antarctic who for while became movie actors. Their curiosity caused considerable trouble cameraman as they were clustered so thickly around him. On several occasions he had to save camera from being overturned when tripod was struck by their powerful flippers. Over all this scene party witnessed constant struggle survival fittest where savage Skua Gulls hovered overhead waiting pounce clown any baby penguins momentarily exposed from protection parents bodies. Quaint little white Sheaf Bills commonly called Paddies followed closely heels expeditioners as they picked way among nests ready rush in seize unprotected eggs.

[AA : A1068, A47/26/11]