1956 - 1960 International

On Monday 19 November 1956, Mary boarded the Rangitoto at the Royal Albert Docks. She had just left her teaching post at the University of Exeter and had secured an exchange lectureship at Massey College (now Massey University) in New Zealand. The journey took over a month and traveled westward around the globe, sailing through the Caribbean, the Panama Canal and past Henderson and Pitcairn Islands before reaching Auckland on Saturday 22 December.

Mary was to spend a year in New Zealand before spending three years in Australia where she would become one of the first four women scientists to join an Antarctic expedition, as well as managing to travel widely through west, east, south (Tasmania) and Central Australia (plus a short trip to the Great Barrier Reef). Mary worked firstly at Melbourne University, for a year, before starting work researching muttonbird populations for CSIRO (the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation).

Finally, on 14 April 1960, Mary left Australia, by boat, on her journey home. Mary's return trip was not a direct ticket however! She spent a month in South Africa where she studied the birds and wildlife of Saldanha Bay (Western Cape) and Dassen and Robben Islands off the Cape Peninsula, before traveling through Zimbabwe, Zambia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana and finally Nigeria, where she worked at an agricultural college with a friend from her Aberystwyth University days, Jeanne Keene.

Mary finally returned to the UK on 26 September 1960.

Mary sails south

19 November 1956

These are excerpts from Mary’s diary of her 33½-day voyage from London, England, to Auckland, New Zealand, in November-December 1956.

Read more

Arrival in Auckland

22 December 1956

'At last the Antipodes, our goal, after 33½ days of sailing …'

Gannets galore!

7 January 1957

A big day today, viewing the gannets of Cape Kidnappers

Read more

Penguins and albatrosses

15 January 1957

Exploring the flora and fauna of the Otago Peninsula and local islands with wildlife ranger, Stanley Sharpe, and with fellow attendees at the ANZAAS conference

Read more

Exploring Stewart Island

5 February 1957

From 4 to 14 February 1957 Mary stayed on the southernmost of New Zealand's three main islands, Stewart Island. With the help of newly made friends, she was able to explore much of the island

Read more

Lecturing at Massey

1 March 1957

Mary started work as a lecturer in botany at Massey College (now Massey University) in Palmerston North: 'My first day on the job today, my first class the all-male second-year-degree men, hefty six-footers from the outback.'

Lighthouses and tuataras

13 May 1957

When the May holidays came around, Mary took advantage of the university break to head south to spend time on the islands of Cook Strait.

Read more

Muttonbirds, piglets and more

6 August 1957

Mary's week exploring the flora and fauna of Mokohinau Island in Auckland's Hauraki Gulf

Read more

Entranced by kakas

15 August 1957

More island life, this time on Little Barrier, where Mary helped with shepherding, learnt more of lighthouse life, and was entranced by kakas

Read more

Captivating Kapiti

24 October 1957

Another week, another island, more botanising, more enchanting birdlife

Read more

Exploring an active volcano!

11 November 1957

Calamities, Maori muttomnbirders and exploring an active volcano in the Bay of Plenty

Read more

Maori life on Motiti

18 November 1957

Experiencing life with Maori families on Motiti Island

Read more

Farewell to Massey

19 December 1957

A parting shot from the staff of Massey College

Read more

Farewell New Zealand, Gidday Australia

21 December 1957

After 365 days in New Zealand and having explored more of the country than most locals see in a lifetime, Mary said her final goodbyes and flew from Auckland to Sydney for the next leg of her Antipodean adventures.

Two months on Fisher Island

6 January 1958

On Monday 6 January 1958 Mary travelled to Lady Barron to spend the next two months exploring, researching on and enjoying the islands of the Bass Strait.

Read more

Starting work at Melbourne University

1 March 1958

Mary begins her year as Senior demonstrator in the Botany Department at Melbourne University, and makes an immediate impact on the local botanical scene!

Read more

Botanising with the McCoy Society

10 May 1958

Mary's first outing with Melbourne University's McCoy Society

Read more

Mary does Centralia

10 August 1958

A 29-day 5000-mile camping trip with three friends, in a VW Combi nicknamed Willie. Click on this link to find out more and use our interactive map to read Mary’s diary and see her photos.

Me, on my resident tutors balcony, University Women’s Hall, May 1958.

‘Free as air’ or ‘Cast out’?

5 December 1958

Mary’s job at Melbourne University comes to an end.

Read more

McCoy Camp Day 1

21 January 1959

Setting up camp on Wilsons Promontory

Read more

McCoy Camp Day 2

22 January 1959

Getting the lie of the land, botanising along the beach

Read more

McCoy Camp Day 3

23 January 1959

Botanising north of the creek

Read more

McCoy Camp Day 4

24 January 1959

A scorcher and a snake!

Read more

McCoy Camp Day 5

25 January 1959

Adventures in the outboard

Read more

McCoy Camp Day 6

26 January 1959

A double transect up the creek

Read more

McCoy Camp Day 7

27 January 1959

Exploring Granite Island

Read more

McCoy Camp Day 8

28 January 1959

Tramping ten miles across the promontory to Three Mile Beach and back, botanising all the way

Read more

McCoy Camp Day 9

29 January 1959

A major transect at China Bay beach with John and Max

Read more

McCoy Camp Day 10

30 January 1959

Packing up, chugging home

Read more

Moving house in Melbourne

14 April 1959

Time to find somewhere to live

Read more

Working with the CSIRO

16 April 1959

Mary and her work with the CSIRO

Read more

Exploring the Abrolhos Islands

4 September 1959

At the end of August 1959, Mary relocated to Perth, to explore and study the islands of Australia's western coastline.

Read more
Isobel Bennet, Me, Hope MacPherson, Susan Ingham -> married later to Robert Carried. 'Thala Dan' 1959.

Mary goes to Macquarie

December 1959

Mary Gillham, Isobel Bennett, Hope Black and Susan Ingham become the first female scientists to join an Australian National Antarctic Research Expedition (ANARE) to the Antarctic research station on Macquarie Island

Read more

Mary leaves Australia

14 April 1960

I was not awake to see the last of Melbourne as we slipped quietly away into the dawn at 6am. My last view was of rows of orange lights reflected on the bay the night before.

Dutch whalers, wheat silos. Table Mountain, 1960

Mary in Africa

1 May 1960

Cape Town, nestling under the table was as beautiful as anticipated.

Read more
Karoo near Laingsburg two hunderd miles east- north-east of Cape Town. Mesembryanthemum

Heading home - South Africa

26 June 1960

After working in South Africa for nearly two months, Mary started her long journey home.

Read more
Salisbury United bus by the Zambesi River on the border of south and north Rhodesia

Heading home - Northern Rhodesia (Zambia)

14 July 1960

Mary continued her journey home by bus, crossing the South African border at Beitbridge, then heading up to Bulawayo and on into Northern Rhodesia (Zambia), where she visited the Victoria Fallas and undertook a two day trip to the Kafue Game Reserve funded by the Rhodesian Government. 

Read more
Mary Gillham at Kariba Lake (Zambia) 1960

Heading home - Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe)

29 July 1960

After visiting Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) Mary headed south by bus to Salisbury (Harare, Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe)) and then west to Umtali (Mutare). 

Read more

Mozambique - Day Trip

7 August 1960

A hot clear day and Mary was very lucky in being able to join others on a long day trip into Mozambique to visit a Portuguese dam and an agricultural research station ...

Read more

Heading home - Flight from Johannesburg to Accra via Leopoldville (Kinshasa)

12 August 1960

After returning to Johannesburg from Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) travelling by bus and train from Fort Victoria, the next part of Mary's journey takes her by air to Nigeria, via Leopoldville (Kinshasa, Congo) and Accra (Ghana).

Read more
Parliament House and Supreme Court Accra

Heading home - Ghana

13 August 1960

Mary sees the best and worst of Accra during her brief stay there en route to Lagos (Nigeria).

Read more

Heading home - Nigeria

August 1960

True to form, Mary visited various locations in Nigeria - she travelled north from Lagos to Kano, spending some time at the Agricutural College in Minna.

Read more

Homeward bound - Kano (Nigeria) to the UK

26 September 1960

Good bye Africa.

Read more

Find out what happens next during the Cardiff University years!

October 1960 Read more