More than a hundred years ago, the young Australian geologist Douglas Mawson embarked on a first Australasian Antarctic expedition. This expedition is deemed legendary for the resilience, physical endurance, loyalty and accomplishments of the crew.
The Australasian Antarctic Expedition began in 1911. The objective was to investigate, as far as possible, a stretch of essentially unknown Antarctic coast. However this mission turned out to be fatal for 2 of Mawson’s crew members. Belgrave Ninnis plummeted down a crevasse with a sledge carrying most of their supplies. Another crew member, Xavier Mertz, perished from exhaustion, starvation and possible toxicity from eating dogs’ livers. Mawson’s survival was a miracle, as he described it in his journals “Never have I come so near an end; never has anyone more miraculously escaped”.
Despite the sacrifices that were made, the 3 years spent in sub-zero temperatures and extremely harsh winds didn’t go to waste. The expedition managed to chart large segments of east Antarctic coastline and resulted in major contributions to the knowledge of the region. Furthermore, species on land and sea, previously unknown, were described for the first time. Mawson was hailed as a hero for his persistence, determination and bravery which contributed to the advancement of science.
Thanks to the photographer Frank Hurley and other crew members, we can witness this groundbreaking expedition through these astonishing photographs.
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