Antarctic adventurer passes peacefully

DAVID Osmond Keyser died peacefully at his Northam home onThursday, November 22, after a short battle with brain tumours.
Nanjing Night Net

He and his wife Barbara moved to town nine years ago and investedin local commercial property.

David had a huge range of interests and so did not have timeto make a large circle of local friends.

The result is that not many were aware of his fascinating,even heroic, history.

His crowning achievement was being a radio operator with the1959 and 1961 expeditions to the Australian Antarctic Territory at MacquarieIsland and Mawson bases.

Previously he had been in the navy, in radio communications,and a flight service officer with the then-Department of Civil Aviation.

Little wonder he was snapped up for Antarctic service.

Most of David’s exploration work was done from Mawson base.

He travelled with three significant field trips coveringalmost 3000 kilometres by dog sled over a total period of more than six months.

He was one of a four-man, two-dog sled team which completedthe first 920 kilometres return trip to Cape Boothby.

He was also one of a five-man, two-dog sled team toundertake the emperor penguin count at Auster Rookery about 30km off theAntarctic coast.

His major journey, frommid-November 1961 to January 27, 1962,was a geological reconnaissance of theSouthern Prince Charles Mountains.

The party of, with two sleds and 12 dogs, made the only landcrossing of the Fischer Glacier, made the only ascent of Mount Menzies, thehighest peak in the eastern Australian Antarctic Territory, Mount Fischer andachieved the first geological survey of both the Mount Menzies and MountBayliss massifs.

It was an unassisted return field trip of around 1750kilometres without any contact except for David’s nightly “skeds” and was thelongest unsupported dog-sled journey in Australian history.

David, born in Harvey in 1934, grew up in Mullewa in whatwere tough times.

Aged 17 he joined the navy – and hated it, deeply wounded bythe cruelty meted out to him as a lad from the bush.

But he did see Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra and coastal partsof Papua-New Guinea as well as gaining radio communications skills.

After leaving the navy he joined the Department of CivilAviation (DCA) as a flight service officer.

He met Barbara in Melbourne, after his second Antarcticstint, and they married after a whirlwind romance.

After living in Perth, David took a DCA job in Papua-NewGuinea for eight years and the couple , now with their daughter Yolanthe, livedin Lae, Madang and Port Moresby.

David was an avid reader and collector.

He collected cars – Alfa Romeo, MG, Peugeot, Wolsley,Daimler, Jaguar and Rover.

Cooking was another of his skills – green lamingtons onMacquarie Island, through to Moroccan, Argentinian and Indian dishes.

He had an eclectic record collection and was an astute real-estateinvestor.

Negotiations are now almost concluded to allow David’s ashesto be scattered in the area he worked in Antarctica.

David Keyser at a reunion of Antarctic staff.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.