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Remembering Sidney Jeffryes and the darker side of our tales of Antarctic heroism


Leane, E and Norris, K, Remembering Sidney Jeffryes and the darker side of our tales of Antarctic heroism, The Conversation, The Conversation Trust, Melbourne, October 16, pp. 1-5. (2018) [Newspaper Article]

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Antarctica is famous for its survival stories, but one of the most compelling has languished in the shadows for over a century. An unmarked grave in the public cemetery at Ararat has been the resting place of Sidney Jeffryes, the remarkable radio operator of Douglas Mawson’s Australasian Antarctic Expedition. In 1913, Jeffryes achieved a world first when he made ongoing two-way wireless contact between Antarctica and Australia. However, his mental illness during the expedition, and his subsequent committal to a high-security asylum, meant his contribution was swept under the carpet. Only now has his important role in Australian Antarctic history been recognised with the laying of a plaque on his grave. A Queenslander, Jeffryes was working as a shipboard radio operator and already making claims to long-distance telegraphy records when in 1911 he applied for a position on Mawson’s expedition. Although another applicant was selected, Mawson considered Jeffryes a "very good man". It is unsurprising, then, that the following year, when the expedition vessel, the Aurora, left Hobart to bring the expeditioners back from Antarctica, Jeffryes was offered a place as its wireless operator. What he didn’t realise was that he would end up spending an unexpected year in the far south.

Item Details

Item Type:Newspaper Article
Keywords:Australian Antarctic history, Australasian Antarctic expedition, mental illness, Sidney Jeffryes, Douglas Mawson, exploration history, memorialization
Research Division:History, Heritage and Archaeology
Research Group:Historical studies
Research Field:Australian history
Objective Division:Culture and Society
Objective Group:Understanding past societies
Objective Field:Understanding Australia's past
UTAS Author:Leane, E (Professor Elizabeth Leane)
UTAS Author:Norris, K (Professor Kimberley Norris)
ID Code:135446
Year Published:2018
Funding Support:Australian Research Council (FT120100402)
Deposited By:Office of the School of Humanities
Deposited On:2019-10-21
Last Modified:2021-02-02

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