"Who wouldn't come down here to see such sights as these!": The Antarctic environment and the diary of Ritchie Simmers
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree LevelPostgraduate Certificate
Degree NamePostgraduate Certificate in Antarctic Studies
Ritchie Simmers began his diary entry for Thursday 29 January 1931: ‘Were I truly the realist which … I [recently] claimed to be I would merely enter for today “Gale, high sea” and leave it at that but the conditions have been bad enough to deserve more comment than that’.1 Simmers was the meteorologist on the British, Australian, and New Zealand Antarctic Research Expedition (BANZARE). The expedition consisted of two voyages to the Antarctic on the SS Discovery, of Robert Falcon Scott fame, in the austral summers of 1929-1930 and 1930-1931, led by Sir Douglas Mawson. Simmers kept a diary during both voyages, and in his entry above he captures two of the major themes of the diary as a whole: his conscious construction of the diary’s form, held in his overt rejection of a short entry (albeit with a theatrical wink at the reader); and his engagement with and construction of the Antarctic environment, in his interest in describing the stormy weather in greater depth. This study seeks to explore, through his expedition diary, how Simmers engaged with the Antarctic environment and how he recorded that engagement in his diary.