MS 7972 comprises diaries, correspondence, research notes, manuscripts, sketches, family papers, lectures, subject files, photographs and cuttings. The day books (26 vols.) date from 1936 to 1988 and include detailed diaries and also copies of letters, manuscripts, cuttings and photographs. They document the Antarctic expeditions in great detail and also mountaineering and other expeditions and Béchervaise's career as a teacher in England and Geelong. Correspondence (15 vols.), mostly 1950-1988, includes letters of Sir Douglas Mawson, Phillip Law, Judith Wright, Sir James Darling, Sir William Dunk, Marnie Bassett, Myra Roper, Diana Mercer and Selwyn Speight. "Treading on Earth" (11 vols.) containing articles, drawings, cuttings, reports, invitations and other autobiographical material, 1922-1988. Literary papers include drafts of poetry and Antarctic books and research material, cuttings and drafts of books on Ballarat, Bendigo, Grampians, the University of Melbourne and other subjects in Sketchbook series (40 boxes, 37 cartons, 1 fol. box).
The Acc08/137 instalment comprises letters to and from Béchervaise, 1937-1995 (bulk 1990s); drafts of writings by Béchervaise; five small undated cannisters of black and white film with the following labels "Here and there in Australia" (x 2), "Rondo", "Paintings" (x 2); a tape recorder containing a small tape made by Béchervaise (most likely the recorder with which the "Rymill interviews" were made for Béchervaise's book Arctic and Antarctic: the will and the way of John Riddoch Rymill, published in 1996) (1 box).
Explorer, mountaineer, poet, author, schoolteacher. John Béchervaise was born in 1910 and educated in Melbourne and England. Trained as an artist and print maker, Béchervaise became a schoolteacher, poet, historian, architectural writer, explorer and mountaineer. He taught at St. George's School, Harpenden, England during the 1930s and 1940s, and later at Geelong College. He wrote 28 books, was the first man to climb Federation Peak in Tasmania, in 1949, and led exploring and mountaineering expeditions to Central Australia, the Himalayas and Central America. Béchervaise is probably best known as the leader of three Australian expeditions to the Antarctic, 1955-1956 and 1959-1960, and Heard Island in 1953-1954.