On board HMAS Wyatt Earp, the crew attach floats to the Kingfisher aircraft, ready for flight, but the weather is too bad. The pack ice prevents the ship approaching the Antarctic coast, so the captain heads for the Balleny Islands, claimed by New Zealand. A brief landing is unsuccessful, so a crew member, ‘Knocker’ White, resorts to collecting rock specimens from floating pack ice. When the sea calms, the aircraft takes off to look for a way through the pack ice, but the search is unsuccessful. The ship will not make a landing this year.
The optimistic tone in the narration does its best to conceal the unpleasant truth – the voyage to the Antarctic coast of HMAS Wyatt Earp is basically a failure. Bad weather stops the ship from getting close enough to land a party on the Antarctic coast, so they make no progress towards finding a suitable site for an Australian Antarctic base. The scenes of Commander Oom, making a ‘thorough survey’ look like a wan attempt to suggest useful work has been done, but this first voyage was basically a disappointment to its planners, both on the ship and at home in Canberra, at least in respect of the work in Antarctica. Much more successful was the setting up of two bases in the sub-Antarctic islands, at Heard and Macquarie. The base at Macquarie Island in particular has been extremely important for Australian science. It has been continuously occupied since this party set it up in early 1948. Heard Island was closed in 1954, its resources re-routed to the new base to be established on the Antarctic coast – what would become Mawson Base (see Antarctic Voyage, 1956).