22

Sum­mer read­ing

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Contents - Se­lected by Stephen Romei

IN his at­tack on my ar­ti­cle (‘‘Flaws in the Ice’’, De­cem­ber 1-2), Syd Kirkby tries to de­fend Dou­glas Maw­son. But he does protest too much. Con­trary to his as­ser­tion, it was a ter­ri­ble blun­der by Maw­son to put all the dog food and most of the hu­man food on one sledge and the fuel on the other. It was the po­lar equiv­a­lent of putting all his eggs in one bas­ket. And he and Mertz paid griev­ously for that de­ci­sion.

Also con­trary to Kirkby’s as­ser­tion, they could not have sur­vived the loss of the fuel-laden sledge. With­out fuel, Maw­son and Mertz might well have re­sorted to eat­ing snow. But it would not have sus­tained them over a 480km jour­ney last­ing more than a month. As med­i­cal ex­perts warn, eat­ing snow only would have ex­ac­er­bated their hy­pother­mia and led to their deaths. With­out fuel, it also would have been im­pos­si­ble for them to eat the hard-frozen, raw dog meat.

With not even enough food left

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