What wine to drink … in the Antarctic

Sir Douglas Mawson. The Antarctic explorer’s name means a great deal to Australians. As Wikipedia describes him, “Along with Roald Amundsen, Robert Falcon Scott, and Ernest Shackleton, Mawson was a key expedition leader during the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration.”

The name bears special relevance to me personally and to Yalumba. My father in law, a geologist like Mawson, studied under him at the University of Adelaide and considered him a mentor. That connection makes history all the more tangible.

The Yalumba connection centers on wine, of course. Wine and Christmas.

Yalumba was a sponsor of Mawson’s Antarctic expeditions both in 1911-14 and 1929-31. It was the latter journey that made the link between Mawson and Yalumba famous.

On Christmas Day, 1929, Mawson and his companions in the Antarctic sat down to a Christmas feast of “Hors D’ouevres Varie”, “Saumon Sailor … sauce Robert”, “Pouding Noel – Ellis Sauce Cognac”, and a few local delicacies that might make squeamish a tender appetite.

To wash it all down? Yalumba 4 Crown Port.

The bottles stand proud amid the presents and cake, highlighted delightfully in that old-timey sort of way in a Yalumba ad of the time. The ad proudly proclaims, “To guard the health of the party, Sir Douglas Mawson naturally chose Yalumba port.” (Ah, the good old days.)

The Seadogs Lament
(Tune: Down in the Canebrake)

Once I went exploring in the Old Discovery
We had one bloody scientist and seamen fiftythree
We didn’t have an aeroplane or echo sounder then
We didn’t have no long haired sheep in a wooden pen

The sea we sailed like Captain Cook
Our stars we knew like a ruddy book
We ate salt horse and we liked it very well
In twenty years things have gone to hell

We didn’t have Yalumba or Tomango* squash
We didn’t have hot water and we never had a wash
We didn’t play with Plankton nets or shoot the otter trawls
We didn’t dredge with Monasques and make an utter balls

We didn’t have an engine to help us on our way
We didn’t let the scientist have stations every day
We didn’t count the dust motes or let balloons go free
We only sailed like Captain Cook upon the wide blue sea

In days gone by just twenty years
We sailed away and we had no cheers
In days gone by and we had no cheers

But now those days are over and seamen six have we
Thirteen ruddy scientists who do not know the sea
They say all sorts of stupid things which pain me in the head
So now I think I’ll leave the bridge and make my way to bed

• = Tomango Limited from Merebank, Natal, South Africa made fruit juice sold in Australia under the trade mark “Tomango Orange Squash”

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