The 1954-55 Antarctic Journeys of Robert Dovers

 

Robert George (Bob) Dovers (1922-1981) was appointed Office-in-Charge and Surveyor for the first Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions (ANARE), Australian wintering party on the Antarctic Continent for 1954. As well as establishing the base that today operates as Mawson Station, he undertook exploration from Mawson to the east, west and south (photographs taken mostly during this time may be viewed here). The eastern coastal journey was to Scullin Monolith, over sea ice. An accurate astronomical fix was required at the monolith as an earlier attempt had failed to land a party at the site. Next came the western coastal journey, again over the sea ice. The objective here was King Edward VIII Gulf, enroute exploring, correcting and depicting detail missing from the Norwegian maps, which had been compiled without any survey ground control (the coast had been photographed from the air for mapping purposes by the Lars Christensen expedition in 1936-37 in association with his whaling activities. But it was not until 1946 that the mapping from that Norwegian photography was published in the Hansen (Captain Hans Edvard Hansen) Atlas of parts of the Antarctic Coastal Lands that comprised 12 charts). The final journey by Dovers in 1954-55 was to the south across the inland polar ice cap. From analysis by the National Mapping Office in Melbourne of United States' Operation Highjump oblique aerial photography flown along the Antarctic coast, a series of large high mountains was believed to lie inland at about 65 degrees south latitude. Confirmation of that belief was then being sought by Dovers.

 

Dovers and his 1954 wintering Mawson party was relieved in early February 1955 by the incoming 1955 ANARE wintering party under John Bťchervaise.

 

Doversí journal for the southern journey which resulted in the confirmation and naming of the Prince Charles Mountains may be read via this link.† The other sections of Doverís Field Trip Report, for this trip, may be read via this link.

 

Doverís Field Trip Report, which includes his Daily Journal, for the Western Coastal Journey 1954, may be viewed via this link.

Robert Dovers and Georges Schwartz's Western Journey in October-November 1954 used dog teams to travel over sea ice from Mawson to King Edward VIII Ice Shelf. The route of this journey is depicted on sections of Hansen's Charts 4, 5 and 6 using the Norwegian location names from Dovers' Daily Journal entries. The 1: 250 000 scale Norwegian Charts, that Dovers used for navigation on this journey, were the only mapping then available.

 

Doverís Field Trip Report, which includes his Daily Journal, for the Eastern Coastal Journey 1954, may be viewed via this link.

 

A summary of the 1954 Astronomical and Other Observations, obtained by Dovers, on all three expeditions may be viewed via this link.

 

Prepared by Paul Wise, April 2021

 

 

 

Sources

 

Robert George Dovers (1954-1955), Field Trip Report : Southern Reconnaissance, 1954 ANARE copy, (includes Daily Journal), Series number P1556, Control symbol Mawson 1954, Item barcode 461442, National Archives of Australia, Hobart.

 

Robert George Dovers (1954C), Field Trip Report †: Western Coastal Journey 1954 ANARE copy, , (includes Daily Journal), Series number P1556, Control symbol Mawson 1954, Item barcode 461442, National Archives of Australia, Hobart.

 

Robert George Dovers (1954), Field Trip Report : Eastern Coastal Journey 1954, ANARE copy, (includes Daily Journal), Series number P1556, Control symbol Mawson 1954, Item barcode 461387, National Archives of Australia, Hobart.

 

Robert George Dovers and Georges Schwartz (1954), Preliminary Chart, King Edward VIII Gulf, Scale 1: 250 000, modified Polyconic Projection; Map 983: King Edward VIII Gulf, digital copy (PDF), Australian Antarctic Division Map Catalogue from Australian Antarctic Data Centre.

 

Robert George Dovers (1954A), Sketch Map, Scullin Monolith, Scale 400 feet to 1 inch, contour interval 100 feet, July 1954; Map 14341: Scullin Monolith, digital copy (PDF), Australian Antarctic Division Map Catalogue from Australian Antarctic Data Centre.