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Centenary of Sir Douglas Mawson ExpeditionPrint Page Print this page

A plaque unveiled by the Governor-General Quentin Bryce marks the centenary of Sir Douglas Mawson’s Australasian Antarctic Expedition from 1911 to 1914. Ms Bryce was Australia’s first Governor-General to visit the continent. The visit occured 100 years after Sir Douglas Mawson’s treacherous journey to Commonwealth Bay in 1913. The Governor-General recognised his enduring legacy of scientific research, exploration and international cooperation on the continent.

Mawson’s 1911–1914 expedition successfully charted Antarctic coastline, investigated the ocean between Australia and Antarctica and examined Macquarie Island.

On 8 January 1912 Sir Douglas Mawson landed on the Antarctic continent after a journey from Hobart that took 36 days aboard the Aurora, a ship of just 612 tons. The vessel departed for Macquarie Island on December 2, 1911, arriving on December 11 after surviving stormy weather during the crossing. A second vessel, the Toroa, followed with supplies and passengers. 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.

Key members of the expedition included Frank Hurley as official photographer, Frank Wild as leader of the western base, Charles Hoadley as geologist, and Cecil Madigan as meteorologist. 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.

Mawson, Mertz and Ninnis’s Far Eastern Journey departed Main Base in November 1912, on what would become a tragic and yet inspiring feat of courage and determination to return with the data and specimens the party set out to collect. Ninnis died from plummeting down a crevasse, with many of the supplies. Mertz perished from physical exertion, starvation and possibly toxicity from eating dogs’ livers. The loss of these popular expeditioners must have taken an enormous emotional toll on Mawson, as he struggled alone for 30 days, arriving at Main Base in February 1913.

 

Location

Address:Wilkins Aerodrome, Australian Antarctic Territory
State:ACT
Area:AUS
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -66.690434
Long: 111.483833
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Details

Monument Type:Plaque
Monument Theme:Landscape
Sub-Theme:Discovery
Approx. Event Start Date:1913
Approx. Event End Date:2013

Dedication

Actual Monument Dedication Date:Tuesday 5th February, 2013
Source: MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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