Macquarie Island’s 1959 Mary Christmas

At the tail end of December in 1959 Mary Gillham and 3 other female scientists became the first British and Australian females to join a research trip in the Antarctic. The likelihood of females joining future research trips would depend on the success of these ground-breaking women. We’re retelling Mary’s tale and talking more about Macquarie Island where this was all to take place…

The following is an account of Mary Gillham’s Christmas Day 1959 on Macquarie Island. The account is in Mary’s own words and in her own handwriting as it has been scanned from her diary for the day.

Look out for what Mary describes as the “highlight” of that Christmas Day then, perhaps, decide whether or not the highlight of yours for this year’s 25 December is as exciting as hers was!


So, was the highlight of Mary’s Christmas Day more exciting than that of yours?

Did your Christmas Day entertainment feature anything like the “seal stakes” and, if so, did anyone get bitten?

Have you, as Mary did, “had to run the gauntlet of a few embraces”?

Have you managed, as Mary also did, to avoid mixing with “the partly drunken mob outside”?

Lastly (but most importantly): Have you enjoyed your Christmas Day as much as Mary appears to have done those fifty-seven years ago?

From everyone at the Mary Gillham Archive Project we hope you have had a wonderful day!


A Christmas card sent from Hope MacPherson to Mary

Read on tomorrow!

Reference material and further reading:

Thanks to John Wilkins (MGAP volunteer) for coordinating this series of Macquarie blogs.

The Mary Gillham Archive Project is funded by HLF and managed by SEWBReC
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