A carved timber walking stick made from the plank of Douglas Mawson’s ship, SY Aurora, was recently gifted to the Australian National Maritime Museum.
The museum received the gift from Mr Geoff Truscott, in response to a blog about the 100th anniversary commemoration of the loss of the Aurora at Newcastle Cathedral in June 2017 (Australian Antarctic Magazine 32: 30, 2017).
Mr Truscott’s father had acquired the stick, however, how he acquired it and the link with its purported maker, Brown, is unknown.
The walking stick is made from a piece of planking souvenired from below the waterline while the ship was undergoing repairs at the Williamstown Dock (Victoria) in October 1913, prior to the Aurora’s third voyage to Antarctica to rescue Douglas Mawson and his small party who had remained at Commonwealth Bay.
The walking stick carries the following inscriptions; ‘From bottom plank of the SS Aurora before leaving for the South Pole Expdn’(sic), and ‘Docked at Williamstown Dock Vic 18–10-1913’.
The name of H. C. Brown is carved into the stick; allegedly the maker and thought to be a shipyard worker at the Williamstown Dock.
The walking stick now joins other rare physical remnants from SY Aurora, including the powerfully symbolic lifebuoy, the Royal Thames Yacht Club Burgee and the ship’s wheel.