Sir Hubert began his personal correspondence with "Hello Hello".

Hello Hello #7: Research Bonanza

From the Chair:
Stephen Scammell

Dear Friends of the Foundation,

It's my pleasure to introduce to you our newest board member, Nina Bellersheim, our Explorer Scientist, Adrian McCallum, and members of our tireless team of volunteer researchers who are helping, through the creation of a digital timeline of the life of this extraordinary yet little remembered Australian, to 'Bring Wilkins Home'.

Letters, diaries, newspaper articles (the first Wilkins Chronicle link appears below, complete with contemporary advertisements that some of us may still remember), film clips, photographs, stamp collections, 'Trove', and The Ohio State University's own Wilkinsonian trove of photographs by kind permission: these and other sources, many unexplored, form the ore that we are refining and shaping into what we trust will be an object of merit, interest and education. 

At the same time, through generous financial support from the Sir Ross and Sir Keith Smith Fund and expert technical input from 57 Films whose principal Paul Ryan appears in cameo below, we are continuing to refresh and focus the Foundation's website to make it relevant and accessible to our Friends and supporters around the world.

In 1912 when the young GH Wilkins left his home country for a life of adventure, exploration, science, aviation, submarining and much more, he sailed from Port Adelaide. Today the Port's Dock 2 is home to the world-famous clipper ship City of Adelaide and the subject of Clipper Ship City of Adelaide Ltd's (CSCOAL) master plan for a consolidated maritime precinct that will become a must-visit South Australian experience. has details.

The City of Adelaide clipper ship in Irvine, Scotland before being transported to Adelaide where it is being restored at Dock 2.

I warmly recommend an inspection of the City of Adelaide if you get the chance. Her full restoration will take years but CSCOAL has made an impressive start.

Excited and impressed by CSCOAL's vision for a nationally significant maritime precinct, I'd like to telegraph here the Foundation's ambition to establish a 'Wilkins Centre' at the 3.5 hectare Dock 2 site that will further the objects of the Foundation while complementing the aims of the master plan with whose team we will continue to work closely on design and timing. More in due course.

Meanwhile, amongst the spring jasmine and wisteria, in this southern clime at least are some early tendrils of hope that the pandemic is receding.

Let it be so!

Unlock Your Inner Explorer TM

From our Patron:
Dr Richard 'Harry' Harris

Last week I had the privilege of walking for eight days around Yankaninna Station, amongst the Adnyamathanha lands in the north of South Australia. The walk was on behalf of Operation Flinders, a foundation established to lead troubled and disadvantaged youth into the bush for outdoor therapy. The healing powers of the outback and the simple pleasure of walking with nothing but a pack on your back, and sleeping under the stars weary from a day's hard graft, cannot be overstated. Listening around the campfire to the back stories of ten young people was at times profoundly sad, but watching their self-esteem rise day by day as they conquered the new and unfamiliar hardships of living in the harsh environment of that drought-stricken land was inspiring.
Harry with Operation Flinders support staff James and Jason in a creek on Yankaninna Station.
Wilkins was a great explorer and his own backyard did not escape his attention. He was ahead of his time in his efforts to understand Indigenous Australians, and his respect for their culture and their connection with the land was significant. Advocating for our First Nations people was not popular in the 1920s, but he did not shy away from that responsibility. I think I respect Hubert Wilkins for that personal courage as much as for any of his great feats of physical courage and endurance. And I think Wilkins would approve of taking city kids out bush to teach them patience, respect and resilience; time spent away from phones and screens, only watching the “bush TV” in the evenings and having real conversations with real people. And who knows, for some of those kids, the experience might just unlock their inner explorer.
Inspire the next generation of Australians

Introducing our new board member, Nina Bellersheim

Hello dear new friends,

I am very honoured and excited to join the foundation, looking after social media aspects and building an online presence on some widely-used platforms previously unexplored by this organisation.

Professionally I am a senior project manager in events and display building; but at the onset of the pandemic I found myself with more time for the things I value the most. I have a passion for exploration history, photography, film and writing. I believe in the promotion of unique, noteworthy heroes as a source of inspiration and connectedness between generations. 

If Wilkins were alive today; I suspect he would be using the most cutting-edge technology available in the pursuit of his research. And just as he lectured all over the world to promote his expeditions and raise funds, I am certain he would be using online platforms to reach his goals and share his knowledge. 

Our goal is to share the awe-inspiring history of this South Australian hero, both at home and internationally. I want to make it more accessible to younger generations via social media and to connect this history with like-minded individuals and organisations globally.

There is a certain spark that gets ignited when you understand something from history that is deeply relatable. That is the feeling I want to share.

Talk soon,

And of course, follow us on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter for regular snippets, photos and announcements.
Encourage citizen scientists

Introducing our Explorer Scientist, Adrian McCallum

Image by Martin Hartley
The purpose of the Explorer Scientist pages is that you will join with me in celebrating the legacy that is Sir Hubert Wilkins, and assist me in gathering a fine collection of short scientific articles that together we can share; not only to get a better handle perhaps on what made Wilkins 'tick', but also to inspire those who will follow us – to those explorer and 'citizen scientists' to come who can draw from Wilkins the inspiration to travel their own journey of discovery, inspired by a man who 'lived his dreams waking.'

Visit the Explorer Scientist page on the Wilkins website to read how I became involved in the Foundation and something about Wilkins’s innovative contribution to the construction of ‘snow houses’. Then, if the subject is of interest, you can read more about contemporary knowledge related to the construction and structural characteristics of snow shelters. Much of this stands on Wilkins’s shoulders. 
Bring Wilkins home TM

From the Historian:
Dr Stephen Carthew

Dear readers,

Thanks to the Sir Ross and Sir Keith Smith Fund’s generous grant, we have been able to produce this newsletter and begin to place our research bonanza into the website. There has been much happening on the history front. While most of this is still not ready to be published, we have updated the website considerably.

Andrew ‘Dawsey’ Dawe has been putting together what he is calling ‘The Wilkins Chronicles’. Dawsey is a Trove wizard. He will explain in the introduction to the Wilkins Chronicles here. What we are putting up is only a start to what will be a marvellous adjunct to the overarching Wilkins timeline project.

Philip van Dueren has been active in transcribing the Wilkins Diaries, which Laura Kissel had begun digitising after her visit here last year. Thanks to Dr Charmaine Hockley (a great-niece of Sir Hubert's), a substantial period of the 1931 diary has also been transcribed. We are now working out the best way to present these Wilkins diaries, manifests and passports. Philip tells us more in his letter below.
Trish Burgess, author of Wyatt Earp: The little ship with many names, has been working on the whole ‘Wilkins Timeline’ – which is a huge undertaking. This project is being scoped at the moment. Working out just what to include and how to display it is a complex issue.

Jeff Maynard, author of these books featuring Wilkins, has been helping us sort out Wilkins's somewhat confusing early history. Film historian Graham Shirley did some valuable research that helped place Wilkins more accurately as a significant player in the early Sydney feature film and cinema industry. Mysteries are being solved using the diaries and early Trove newspaper articles. A ‘Wilkins and Films’ page is on our slate in the coming months.

Since 2017 I have been writing a two-volume tome titled What Made Wilkins Tick. It’s a long-term project so I have decided to use some of this research sooner via short digestible articles within a ‘Wilkins and Philosophy’ page. If anyone in the ‘Wilkins Community’ would like to collaborate with me on the development of this page, please contact me via my home email. The purpose and scope of this page is further explained on the new ‘Domains’ section, titled ‘Wilkins and Philosophy’.
In 2017-2018 my friend Tait Muller produced and directed this short clip, Wilko, which is designed to give an idea of the way a contemporary documentary about Wilkins could be treated. We present this for your interest. If you like it, please share the link with others.

Under the North Pole to be republished

Great news. The Friends of the State Library of SA is planning a republication of Wilkins’s 1930 book Under the North Pole. They have asked our historian, Stephen Carthew, to write an introduction. Wilkins wrote the bulk of the book but asked others involved with this project to make substantial contributions. It is a fascinating text. We will keep you informed of further developments and a publication date. Have a browse through their list of publications which includes their republication of Wilkins's Undiscovered Australia, with contributions from Craig Williams, Colin Harris, and Valerie Sitters.

A Tuesday Talk – Books in My Life

The Friends of the State Library have so much in common with the Wilkins Foundation that members of one often subscribe to the other—and meet at one another’s events. The next Friends talk will be presented by the engaging speaker Suzi Roux on 6 October from 11am-12pm at the Hetzel Lecture theatre. It is a free event but you need to book online.
Make Wilkins history accessible

Sir Hubert Wilkins's role in Wyatt Earp: The little ship with many names

Trish Burgess

Wyatt Earp: The little ship with many names was published in May this year. It brings together the whole story of the ship's many lives: her 1919 launch as M/S Fanefjord in Norway; through her four Wyatt Earp Antarctic voyages with Lincoln Ellsworth and Sir Hubert Wilkins; and her time with the Australian Government and service as HMAS Wyatt Earp on the first ANARE voyage in 1947-48. Finally it tells of her work around the Australian coast as Wongala and then Natone, and her grounding and final resting place on Rainbow Beach in Queensland in 1959.

The second chapter tells the story of Lincoln Ellsworth's four Antarctic Expeditions between 1933 and 1939 in which Wilkins plays a prominent role. Without him Ellsworth would have not achieved his ambition to be the first person to fly across the Antarctic continent.

The Wilkins Chronicle:
Andrew "Dawsey" Dawe

Keen Wilkins researcher and Trove contributor Andrew Dawe has done a remarkable job compiling many newspaper articles relating Sir Hubert's adventures, up to about 1925. In doing so Dawsey has shot up the rankings of Trove text correctors!

Highlights of the first edition include Arctic dispatches relating life among the Esquimaux, reporting from the first Balkans War, and the 1919 air race from England to Australia.

Read the first two editions of the Chronicle.

Dawsey is looking to collaborate with other Trove researchers. Please contact Dawsey if you would like to play a part in completing the Wilkins Chronicle -- there is a long way to go.

Wilkins and Philately

Richard Hindle

Owning an artefact related to Hubert Wilkins is a wonderful way of bringing him to life. He was always searching for ways of raising funds for his expeditions and one of these was through philately. He came into contact with AC Roessler, a stamp dealer from East Orange, New Jersey. They collaborated for some time, before disagreeing about the amount Roessler would pay for Wilkins’s first flight covers (envelopes) posted in Antarctica.

Wilkins recorded his expeditions from 1926 to 1937 by making covers to sell to the public. Stamps from various countries have also been issued which commemorate his exploits.

Although the income raised from philately was relatively modest, his 1931 Trans-Polar Submarine Expedition is the most prolific and interesting use of philately.

Collecting the stamps and covers from Wilkins’s expeditions is a fascinating way of recording his life. There are very few people in the world whose biography can be chronicled philatelically.

Read more on the website.

If you wish to know more about the philately of his life, please contact Richard Hindle, the editor of the Hubert Wilkins Study Group, by email . 

Diary transcriptions:
Philip van Dueren

Following Dr Stephen Carthew’s appeal in Hello Hello #6 for transcribers of Sir Hubert Wilkins’s numerous diaries I decided to answer the call and give it a go!

I have had an interest in Wilkins for over ten years and have visited many of the places he explored—spectacular and iconic places such as Spitsbergen, Deception Island, the Bering Strait, and Istanbul.

After receiving the first box of OSU diary scans I realised this task would not be easy. Wilkins’s staccato writing style means that prolonged exposure to his script is needed to read the often isolated words, names and addresses diarised. Combine this with chemical names and 1911 film jargon and the task becomes harder still.

His first diary from 1911 (a week to double-page spread) describes his time in Sydney working as a projectionist and cameraman. He seems to have been an avid film buff who either worked on, or saw, many films of the time. Later in the year he appears to be planning a future overseas, as many potential employers in the UK and US cinematographic/engineering field are listed and a few draft job application letters are included.

Partial manifest of the SS Friedrich der Grosse – Wilkins (listed as a German) arrived in Southhampton on 12 April, 1912 

The early part of the 1912 diary is largely blank; the first entry on Easter Monday, 8 April reads ‘Arrived in Southampton, England’. I discovered that a GH Wilkins had joined the SS Friedrich der Grosse (a Norddeutsche Lloyd liner) in Sydney and had travelled to Southampton via Melbourne, Adelaide, Fremantle and Port Said. He is listed on the manifest as a 22 year-old German citizen and described as a ‘traveller’. He uses a section of his 1911 diary to record events from the last week of April 1912. His job hunt appears to have been successful and he starts work with the Gaumont Company on 29 April 1912. On the same day, he mentions filming a charity football match for Titanic survivors, held at White City Stadium.

Over the next few months he films several royal engagements where both the King and Queen are present, as well as regattas, horse shows, horse races, and dog shows. He makes visits to Wales, Ireland, Belgium and all over southern England. He notes his first flight on 1 October and a week later commences preparations to go to the Balkan war. Unfortunately the Turkish authorities do not allow him to use the custom-designed sidecar motorbike which he has prepared for this trip.

He meets with many other correspondents (and teams up with some) from all prominent newspapers and news bureaus. He returns to London via Vienna, Switzerland and Paris (to visit Gaumont) after the signing of the armistice in early December.

More diaries are being digitised, along with some of Wilkins’s passports. This will all help in bringing together a fuller timeline of his life.

Note from Laura Kissel:

"The value added to the diaries through our collaboration – we scan in Ohio and you transcribe in Australia – means that researchers from all parts of the globe will now have access to this valuable resource."

Laura Kissel is the Polar Curator for the Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center Archival Program (Polar Archives) at The Ohio State University. This archive is the worldwide motherlode of the Sir Hubert Wilkins papers etc.

Image: Laura agreed to us using this selfie she sent while in the archival stack at OSU. She said, "I looked  a little crazy". We won't vote on it Laura.


On 7th October 1920, Wilkins left Sydney by boat for Auckland, from where he took a train to Wellington. He boarded a ship from there to San Francisco (stopping at Rarotonga and Tahiti), then travelled by train to New Orleans, boarded another ship, went through the Panama Canal, and made various stops before reaching Valparaiso. There he took another train to Buenos Aires and finally caught a ferry across to Montevideo. All this to catch his ship to the Falklands from where his first Antarctic adventure with Cope started on December 20th!
Present enlightening artefacts

From our sponsor:
Paul Ryan, 57 Films

For a number of years 57 Films has supported the Foundation and earlier Wilkins initiatives with video production, design, publicity, funding historical research and assistance with event management. Our biggest ambition is to develop an international web or TV series on the incredible life of Sir Hubert Wilkins.

We have a diverse range of people and capabilities, and like Sir Hubert, have always had a global outlook. Within the last three years 57 Films has completed several television projects in China and facilitated German and Chinese film productions in South Australia.

Our current productions include a feature film documentary on the 150 year history of the Port Adelaide Football Club to be premiered at the Adelaide Film festival. We are also heavily immersed in virtual reality with an exciting VR application launching soon promoting the Riverland region of South Australia. Our core business producing safety, induction and training packages, is in greater demand due to the need for self-paced learning.

It’s great to see the diversity of projects being carried out by the Wilkins Foundation, especially the work being done across the globe to unearth previously undiscovered archival information. Similarly, our work on the PAFC documentary has involved collecting and digitising archival footage from the State Library and the Channel 7 archives.
Engage corporate Australia

Sponsorship opportunities

If you would be interested in sponsoring a future issue of the newsletter please contact the Foundation. The audience of the newsletter is steadily growing across all age demographics.

An end note ...

While we hope you have enjoyed this 'Research Bonanza', you may be relieved to hear that future Hello Hellos will be much shorter, with 'read more' buttons linking to new research and other material of interest on the Wilkins Foundation's website.

Connect with the Wilkins Foundation:
@WilkinsFndn @WilkinsFndn
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