2012 Parliament House Exhibition

Mawson’s Men … inspiration of Australia’s modern Antarctic program

Faces of 32 expeditioners

One hundred years ago, Douglas Mawson led a group of men on an epic journey, not for profit or fame, but to extend the boundaries of human knowledge and advance the cause of science.

We remember and acknowledge “Mawson’s Men”, who freely shared long months of unremitting effort and hardship, including those who lost their lives, so far from home. Through their eyes Australia and the world were shown a truly unique continent whose ancient records had – and still have – much to tell us.

Sir Douglas Mawson’s legacy continues to have profound resonance to this day, given expression through a modern Australian Antarctic program founded on science and a commitment to value, protect and understand this very special and remote region.

Image gallery

Group of 15 expeditioners inside surrounded by stores
Aurora with the crowd at the wharf watching
Photo taken from high-up on the Aurora showing the crowd at the wharf
Officers and crew of the Aurora
Four expeditioners standing on the heavily-leaning deck of the Aurora
One man plays coits on the deck of the ship watched by other players and the huskies
Frank Hurley stands perched on chains below the bowsprit, holding his camera and filming back along the ship.
Hurley lowers a film tray from a rope over the side of the ship to wash the film in the sea water.
Three men stand below the mast that is anchored with cables
Man in a rough suit stands outside a tiny wooden shack on the island.
View of the Aurora's stern taken at a distance from the ship. The water has been tinted blue and icebergs float by.
Aurora, framed by ice in the foreground
Two men seated inside a cramped wooden hut. Both wear woollen clothing, have handlebar moustaches and smoke straight pipes.
Two men wearing woollen beanies and hunching to keep warm stare at the camera with weathered faces.
Eight men cluster around a table with bottles of wine in the hut draped with Union Jack flags
Three small wooden skiffs are drawn up to the ice and a relay line of men unload boxes of provisions.
Six men hammer boards onto the roof of the hut while three men on the ground pass the wood up to them.
The men sit on the gunwhale of the boat on the ice, the penguin sits on top of the boat's cockpit while Hurley films it with his camera set up on a tripod.
Expeditioners sit, chat, relax on the bunks in a hut.
Six men heave a rope slung over a tripod which then leads to the ship to unload supplies. Wooden boxes are stacked on the ice.
A head and shoulders photo of a man in a hooded jacket. The rim of the hood is so completely ice-caked that only his nose can be seen.
Three men are perched on the roof of the hut: one dozes in the sun, one relaxes with his shirt off and one gazes though his binoculars.
The skeleton of an airplane fuselage, an engine up front and wheels and skids on the ice. It doesn't look very robust!
Profile of a young man wearing headphones taking notes while seated next to a radio in a mechanics workshop.
The hut roof is at ground level and Mertz climbs out through a trapdoor onto the ice.
Hurley uses scissors to trim Hunter's beard while others watch smiling. Laseron reads a book in his bunk.
Men working on the air-tractor are rugged up in balaclavas and gloves as the walls of the hangar are layered in ice.
Bowls are stacked high on the kitchen bench while one man washes up and two other dry.
Frank Hurley wearing furry boots and warm hood smiles at the camera while he sits outside a hut in the sun sewing.
Man clad in fur and wool outdoor wear peers over a huge mound of ice and snow blocking the verandah.
Expeditioners wave their beanies over their heads to celebrate the flying of the Union Jack flag with the completed hut in the foreground and boxes stack roof-high beside it.
Man works at a sewing machine in a hut that has sleeping bags cascading from the roof.
Expeditioner clings to an ice cliff, held by his ice-pick wedged into the cliff face. He carries a coiled rope over his shoulder and the sea is in the background.
Expeditioners with huskies
Expeditioners setting up tent. Swiss flag in the background.
Expeditioner bent over in the face of wind and blowing snow
The men of the Main Base, looking weathered and cheerful
Regional map showing the area covered by the Australasian Antarctic Expedition 1911–1914. Under Sir Douglas Mawson. Including tracks of the Aurora and most of the deep-sea soundings.

The exhibition is on display at Parliament House, Canberra from 6 March – 26 April 2012.

This page was last modified on 6 March 2012.