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Mawson's Antarctic milestone

1 Dec 16

One of Frank Hurley's stunning expedition images, 'A glimpse from within the cavern of the Mertz Glacier', Australasian Antarctic Expedition, 1911–14, National Library of Australia, obj. 141793011

Scientific achievement

This week we mark a milestone in Australian exploration history.

On 2 December it's 105 years since the Australasian Antarctic Expedition left Hobart for Antarctica on the Aurora.

This was the first major scientific expedition by Australians beyond their shores. Leading the expedition was scientist Douglas Mawson.

It's also one of our Defining Moments in Australian History, which aims to stimulate discussion about events that have been of profound significance to the Australian people.

Extraordinary endurance

Mawson and his team of 18 men explored 6327 kilometres of Antarctica and Macquarie Island.

Their achievements in geology, cartography, meteorology, geomagnetism and marine biology were groundbreaking.

Mawson also survived an extraordinary ordeal. Having set out with Belgrave Ninnis and Xavier Mertz on a 1500 kilometre exploratory mission, Mawson was the only member of the team to return alive.

Mawson was later knighted and eventually helped lay claim to 42 per cent of Antarctica for Australia.

Read more on Mawson's Antarctic expedition.

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