Lieutenant Belgrave Ninnis & Dr Xavier MertzPrint Page Print this page


Photographs supplied by Chris Gregory

A cross on a hill 300 metres north-west of Mawson's Hut commemorates Lieutenant Belgrave Ninnis and Dr Xavier Mertz who died during Mawson's Antarctic expedition of 1912-1913.

In the summer of 1912–13, Mertz and Ninnis were chosen by Mawson to accompany him on the Far Eastern Party, using the dogs to push rapidly from the expedition's base in Adélie Land towards Victoria Land. After Ninnis and a sledge carrying most of the food disappeared down a crevasse 501 kilometres from the hut, Mertz and Mawson headed back west, gradually using the dogs to supplement their remaining food stocks.

About 160 kilometres from safety, Mertz died, leaving Mawson to carry on alone. The cause of Mertz's death has never been firmly established; the commonly purported theory is hypervitaminosis A (an excessive intake of vitamin A) from consuming the livers of the Huskies. Other theories suggest he may have died from a combination of malnutrition, a change in diet, cold exposure, and psychological stresses.


Address:Commonwealth Bay, 300 metres north-west of Mawson`s Hut, Australian Antarctic Territory
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -67.068985
Long: 142.508399
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Cross
Monument Theme:People


Approx. Monument Dedication Date:1913
Front Inscription

Erected to commemorate the supreme sacrifice made by Lieut B.E.S. Ninnis, R.F and Dr X. Mertz in the cause of science

AAE 1913

Source: MA,ATHS
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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