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Centenary of Mawson's Antarctic Expedition


Centenary of Mawson's Australasian Antarctic Expedition
Sir Douglas Mawson, 1882 - 1958
King Penguin
Mawson's Hut
SY Aurora
The Australasian Antarctic Expedition was an Australasian scientific team that explored part of Antarctica between 1911 and 1914.
It was led by the Australian geologist Douglas Mawson, who was knighted for his achievements in leading the expedition.
In 1910 he began to plan an expedition to chart the 2000-mile long coastline of Antarctica to the south of Australia.
The Australasian Association for the Advancement of Science approved of his plans and contributed substantial funds for the expedition.
The remaining funds were raised by public subscription and additional donations.

They would sail on the Newfoundland sealing vessel Aurora, a steam-powered sailing vessel with a length of 165 feet and a displacement of 600 tons.
The Aurora captain was John King Davis.
The vessel departed for Macquarie Island on December 2, 1911, arriving on December 11 after surviving stormy weather during the crossing.
Departing Macquarie Island on December 23, the Aurora began exploring the coastal areas, during which the vessel and its men discovered and named King George V Land and Queen Mary Land.

Base camps:
The expedition built their main base, or winter quarters, at Cape Denison in Commonwealth Bay, where eighteen men spent the winter of 1912 and seven spent the winter of 1913. (Their huts still stand - two intact and two as ruins: Mawson's Huts, now managed as an historic site by the Australian Antarctic Division).
They also built two auxiliary bases, a support base and wireless relay station on Macquarie Island initially headed by George Ainsworth, and a western base on the Shackleton Ice Shelf, but these two auxiliary bases no longer survive.
The teams at all three bases conducted routine scientific and meteorological observations, which were recorded in great detail in the voluminous reports of the expedition.
They also overcame months of failures with equipment and masts by eventually establishing the first Antarctic wireless radio connection (linked to Hobart via a radio relay station established at Wireless Hill on Macquarie Island).

Sledging expeditions:
Coastal and inland sledging journeys enabled the teams to explore previously unknown lands.
In the second half of 1912, there were five major journeys from the main base and two from the western base.

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This product was added to our catalog on Monday 19 December, 2011.

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