Summer Trip: Surveyor Manning reading angles with Wild T3 theodolite on Depot Peak traverse in December 1967.


Surveyor’s Report – 1967


Although 1967 has been a rather tame year with no major field journeys, a lot of necessary filling-in Tellurometer work has been accomplished which I hope will enable future surveyors to concentrate on work further afield with a firm foundation.


Survey Instructions Issued in Melbourne


Survey Project No 1/1967

Beacon the Lucas Nunatak Tellurometer station (NM/S/11) and read vertical and horizontal angles to all other visible stations in the Framnes Mountains Net.


Survey Project No 2/1967

At Mt Twintop station (NM/S/12) read horizontal and vertical angles to Lucas Nunatak (NM/S/11), Van Hulssen Nunatak and McNair Nunatak.


Survey Project No 3/1967

Obtain Tellurometer measurement of the lines Onley Hill to McNair Nunatak and McGrath Nunatak to McNair Nunatak.  At each of those three stations read horizontal and vertical angles to all visible stations in the Framnes Mountains Net.

Survey Project No 4/1967

At Béchervaise Island:

(a)  Read horizontal and vertical angles to Goldsworthy Ridge, Onley Hill, Painted Peak, Lucas Nunatak

(b) Determine by balanced stellar azimuth observations, the azimuth of the Béchervaise Island to Lucas Nunatak.


Survey Project No 5/1967

5.1.         Carry out a Tellurometer traverse from McNair Nunatak to Church Mountain, thence to an accessible high feature in the Mount Rivett area.

5.2.         In addition to the usual traverse angles at each station, read angles to prominent features in the area and take a round of terrestrial photographs.

5.3.         True bearings of traverse legs should be checked at convenient intervals by astronomical observations for azimuth using balanced observations for azimuth if possible.  The astronomical azimuth of the final leg is an important requirement.

5.4.         Determine by Ney Method the geographical co-ordinates of the final traverse station on rock.

5.5.         Photo identification of all stations on rock is required.  Copies of existing aerial and terrestrial photography will be supplied.

5.6.         All stations on rock to be permanently marked.


Change-over 1966-67

Projects 1, 2 and 3 had been requested to be included in the Mawson change-over period 1966‑67 using the ship-borne helicopters for transport.  However, due to the reluctance of the helicopters to fly in anything but perfect weather, the poor weather during the change-over and the refusal of the 1966 surveyor to do any more work, only one angle was read of Mt Twintop and a beacon erected at Lucas Nunatak.  These projects were then transferred to be done with ground support as time permitted through the year.


Autumn Trip 11 March - 9 May

After departure of the ship preparations were commenced in earnest and party left Mawson on 11 March.  Unfortunately this trip was not completely successful and in the end necessitated depoting vehicles and survey equipment, with still over 40 miles of over-ice Tellurometer traverse to be completed.  However, all rock features in the Church Mountain area were fixed and a Ney method astro-fix taken at Church Mountain.  The last survey work was done on 14 April and it was estimated that 7 working days would be required to complete all objectives.


On return from the field in May, survey work was brought to a halt because of lack of transport and survey equipment.  Had light vehicles in good order been available an immediate return to Frustration Dome would have been made, but due to the lateness of the season, the darkness of winter and the fact that we only had one trained dog team and one Skid-Doo on the station in the way of light transport it was decided to wait till August to begin recovery of equipment.


Winter Activities

The months of May and June were employed at the station doing general camp maintenance and domestic duties and ten days cooking for the whole camp to give the cook a break.  Astronomical azimuths for auroral instruments were determined and level determinations for various meteorological purposes were carried out.  Fifteen nightwatches were completed during the year mainly during this midwinter period.  Duties of official photographer were carried out in the unpacking, sorting and storing of chemicals and maintenance of darkroom equipment.


During the month of July a camp was established on Béchervaise Island and astronomical observations begun with a T2 theodolite, although the weather permitted few results.


On two trips towards Auster rookery I acted as navigator, driver until the Ski‑Doo was lost on the sea ice then seven days were spent with dog teams searching for it.


Towards the end of July more astronomical work was carried out, although in the cold with man‑hauling support some trouble was had in getting bookers.


Early August brought preparations for return to Frustration Dome Depot and later a successful trip retrieving one Snow Trac and the two Polarises.  These were overhauled in the workshop before any completion of the survey traverse was contemplated.


As a result of the near complete success of the Autumn Trip (which was the year's major survey work) instructions were received from Melbourne to carry out the over-snow Tellurometer traverse from Mt Twintop to Depot Peak and this was officially given top priority by ANARE for the Spring field work.  This major project had been successfully completed by Max Corry in 1965 and a repeat was necessary because of its geodetic importance and the nature of the moving intermediate ice stations used.


Early Spring

After much preparation a start was made on 25 September to complete the Traverse from Church Mountain to Onley Hill.  Despite trouble with theodolite and Tellurometers this was successfully completed on 12 October, and the remainder of equipment and No 2 Snow Trac retrieved from Frustration Dome Depot.


Some angles were read from Onley Hill after the T3 theodolite had been stripped and repaired and the line Onley Hill - Béchervaise measured with Tellurometers.


More astros were done on Béchervaise and angles read to all other visible stations in the Framnes Mountains Net.  Transport was sometimes by motorbike, Mark’s VW or old Weasel but usually by foot, man-hauling gear as required.


Preparations were made for the Spring trip and Tellurometer traverse had now been downgraded in priority by ANARE to third priority and was to be combined with micro-pulsation recording trip and depoting commitments.


At this stage the proposed Tellurometer traverse seemed a monumental task particularly in the light of comparison and reports with the 1965 traverse which comprised a party of nine men driving a train of 2 D4s.  They worked well and barely managed to complete the survey, and now we had six men, 3 D4s and a heavy depot to pull out as well.


Spring Trip

Departed Mawson 4 November, returned 30 December.  This trip went very well and was highly successful despite long periods of bad weather and drift (27 days drift out of first month).  Problems which seemed formidable beforehand were easily overcome or found to be non-existing.


The Tellurometer traverse was completed in 8 legs, one new station was established, behind Depot A, and all other points used were on Corry's traverse.


Astronomical observations to 6 daylight stars were carried out at Depot Peak and to 10 daylight stars at Mt Twintop.  The remainder of the angles in Survey Project No 2/1967 were completed during a period of seven days camped on the summit of Mt Twintop.


As special circumstances confined the OIC to Base, I was appointed as overall leader of the Spring programme but its complete success was due to the competency of the people involved in the various aspects.


Summer Trip – Framnes Mountains

I was informed by instructions from Melbourne that K099...Survey Projects 1 to 3 inclusive can be deferred until change-over when air support will be available, also on internal centre point polygon figure with centre at Van Hulssen would be attempted during change-over.


Following consideration of (i) early return of Spring trip (ii) condition of Snow Tracs (iii) the fact this section of the external loop had been unsuccessfully attempted in 1964, 1965, 1966 and now was in the 1967 programme, I decided to proceed with Project No 3 by ground support.  This would decrease the change‑over commitment (which is 10 times that accomplished 1966-67) and guarantee that an external adjustment could be made to the Framnes Mountains Net.  This was particularly important for Mt Twintop and hence the traverse to Princes Charles Mountains via Depot Peak.


The work was carried out from 8/1/68 to 10/1/68 by an almost continuous effort during a period of high winds but good weather.


The only outstanding work left from the 1967 survey programme is part of survey project No 1/1967, readings to Van Hulssen Nunatak and Onley Hill from Lucas Nunatak.


Public Relations

Under the present arrangements the work of the surveyor is immensely dependant on the goodwill at the Base and the willingness and skill of people he can persuade to help him on field trips often under extremely trying conditions.


Practically everyone on Base has his work and responsibilities without sighting a surveyor and naturally some trouble was encountered obtaining assistants for fieldwork.  Perhaps this year especially as the Met section now have radar and an increased and full programme and work under instructions not to partake in field trips, the scientists were not field inclined and not available for out of camp activity until the auroral season finished, when one of the physicists gave assistance on the Spring trip.  The OIC also was required to be on Base by special circumstances.


Every field trip was somewhat of a struggle to gain the number of men and sometimes trips were considered with poor grace by the camp because of the need of the surveyor to pirate and enthuse some of the staff of the various sections for his work.


Although forced to withdraw from Autumn trip due to work commitment and fire officer duties I would like to express my gratitude to the electrician Syd Little for his assistance, but for his solid and unflagging support the lack of personnel would have been critical.  His sure and honest handling of Tellurometer and theodolite and ever enthusiastic attitude and competence in all conditions was invaluable.  Both his temperament and capabilities made him an ideal field companion.


Every single man who came into the field with me gave magnificent support and the virtual completion of a very full survey programme reflects much credit to them, for without their assistance a lone surveyor can do practically nothing now that the days of astro-fixes and dog teams have passed.


General Summary

I have greatly enjoyed working in Antarctica for a whole year but it seems a pity for a surveyor to spend so much time in Base, particularly the month of January when summer weather is about.


Approximately 6 months were spent in Base and six months in the field (including day trips out of Base).


168 nights were spent away from Mawson of which 110 of these were camped in tents.


From experience this year I would have much preferred to have wintered inland than at a coastal base and feel that it is possible to winter inland even in a tent as long as the gear is good and there is plenty of fuel.



J Manning




(Transcribed, with minor edits, from the manuscript by Karen McLean on 5 February 2018.)


Autumn Trip: man-hauling near Russell Nunatak May 1967.

Left-right: Manning, Jacques, and Lawson.