Douglas Mawson’s Primus
Primus stove


Douglas Mawson’s Australasian Antarctic Expedition


Kerosene Stove


Generates powerful unrelenting winds


Causes extreme sickness and disorientation



Collected by

Warehouse 13







Date of Collection

November 12, 2004



Geologist Douglas Mawson got his first taste of adventure on Ernest Shackleton’s Nimrod Expedition, trekking across Antarctica in the name of science. Mawson, along with several other members, became the first people to climb snowy Mount Erebus and reach the Magnetic South Pole.

Head over heels in love with the spirit of discovery, Mawson planned his own voyage in 1911 to explore the uncharted areas closest to Australia. They planned to chart the topography, conduct scientific surveys and note any resources of industrial value. Unfortunately, their stay was plagued by blizzards and katabatic winds, which reached speeds of 300 km/h (190 mph) with the direction of gravity. The survey plane refused to start in the cold and five weeks in, they lost Lieutenant Ninnis, their best sled dogs and many supplies when their sled fell into a crevasse.

The survivors were forced to turn back, be put on rations and build a tent from fabric and skis. The dogs soon after had to be used to feed the men and the healthiest surviving sledge hounds. Dawson and mountaineer Xavier Mertz suffered dizziness, skin yellowing, hair loss and confusion in addition to the effects of frostbite and starvation. Mertz became crazed, biting off part of his little finger and damaging their tent; he entered a coma and died shortly afterwards.

Unknown at the time, excessive intake of vitamin A would cause hypervitaminosis, making people extremely sick and delirious. Levels were especially high in large mammals such as huskies, which Mertz consumed more of. When Dawson returned to the ship, he found it had left hours earlier, stranding him and the rescue party for another winter until 1913.


Heating with fuel will cause extremely powerful winds to continually blow from nowhere, hampering any movement. The space directly around the stove will be tranquil, placing users out of harm’s way. Anyone briefly exposed to the wind will suffer from a medley of bodily ills, such as temperature fluctuations, nausea, weakened bones, loss of appetite, skin discoloration and ocular problems. They also become easily confused, lose their sense of direction and some lucidness.

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