Just Tell Them I Survived! Women in Antarctica

By Robin Burns | Go to book overview

Foreword

The story of Antarctica is overwhelmingly his tory, and this book attempts to redress the balance by adding chapters from the stories of many women who have lived and worked on the continent and sub-Antarctic islands, most of them with ANARE (Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions). Indeed, parts of my own Antarctic story are recorded here, derived from the sixteen months I spent down South in 1990–92, as station leader at Mawson in 1991 and as field leader of the 1991–92 summer Prince Charles Mountain Expedition. Like many Antarcticans of both genders, my original inspiration for seeking to experience the physical and personal challenge of the extreme environment of the last continent came from the great stories of the heroic age of Antarctic exploration, especially the saga of Shackleton's expeditions and the qualities of leadership and comradeship they displayed.

The actors in the saga of the heroic age were exclusively male, and this was the norm until the 1950s. The first women went South with ANARE in 1959, and over 400 have followed them since. As this book describes, women as well as men now share the awesome beauty of a midwinter aurora, the perils of glacier travel, the discomforts of a blizzard-bound tent, the exhilaration of boundless icescapes, the joy in companionship of special friends on a ‘jolly’, the trust and interdependence generated by a longer field expedition, the satisfaction of a successful resupply operation, the depression and loneliness of isolation from friends and family, the wonder of the wildlife—in fact, the whole

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