Mary Gillham - Africa Trip 1960

Mary arrived in Cape Town on Sunday 1 May 1960, after a 16-day voyage from Melbourne (via Fremantle and Durban) on the S.S. Southern Cross. Her primary reason for visiting South Africa was to study bird life and the affect of guano farming on seabirds and other creatures on islands including Robben and Dassen. The results of these studies were documented in her journal article 'Some Interactions of Plants, Rabbits and Sea Birds on South African Islands', Journal of Ecology, Vol. 51, No. 2 (Jul., 1963), pp. 275-294, published by the British Ecological Society.

Mary took full advantage of her time in South Africa, recording daily events in a number of diaries. After working there for nearly two months, she started her long journey home, by hitching lifts or using public transport, over and through Zimbabwe and Zambia. She then travelled on to Nigeria, where she worked for a short time at the Rural Agricultural College in Minna, before travelling to Kano, and finally flying home to London on 26 September 1960.

Here are some of the highlights of Mary's trip home - extracts taken from diaries and photographic slide recorded by her in 1960.

Follow Mary's incredible journey home using the individual country links on the left hand side of this page or in more depth using the interactive map below.