British, Australian, New Zealand Antarctic Research Expeditions 1929-31 (BANZARE)

Two men in a small light aircraft
Flying the Antarctic... Douglas Mawson and Flying Officer Stuart Campbell leaving the Discovery in a Gipsy Moth to survey newly discovered territory during BANZARE (Photo: Frank Hurley)
Sir Douglas Mawson in the Commander's Cabin, DiscoveryBANZARE voyage tracks 1929-31Expeditioners standing on the rocks at the foot of the Union JackMawsons BANZARE proclamationMen peer into buckets and nets at tiny fish and animals hauled in from the seaBlack and white Australian government document bearing the coat of arms.

When Mawson and his party emerged from the ice in 1914 the world was spiralling into World War I. Several of the men who had survived the hardships of Antarctica then died in the war in Europe.

Meanwhile, Sir Hubert Wilkins, who pioneered flight over the North Pole, made the first flight over Antarctica in 1928, and some years later, Australian John Rymill, leading a British expedition, showed the effectiveness of small parties covering large areas on the ground to carry out high-quality scientific work and cartography.

Douglas Mawson, determined to keep the further exploration of Antarctic in the forefront of the scientific and political mind, brought together the British, Australian and New Zealand Antarctic Expedition. Conducted over two summers, the expeditions were supported by the three governments and private backers, including the Melbourne businessman MacPherson Robertson. The British government gave use of the ship Discovery that had been used by Robert Scott on his first Antarctic foray, every spare inch of which was filled with coal briquettes to allow for greater passage through the ice.

Three new landings were made and aircraft flights discovered the BANZARE Coast and Princess Elizabeth Land. The expedition also generated scientific results that were so voluminous that reports were still being published three decades later. 

In two summer voyages Discovery and the expedition aircraft traversed the whole coastline from 45°E to 160°E, defining the limits of what was to become the Australian Antarctic Territory. Mawson made proclamations claiming sovereignty for Britain over Antarctic lands at each of landfall.

‘An extensive programme of scientific work and observations embracing many disciplines was successfully carried out. Tonnes of zoological specimens were obtained from deep and shallow dredgings and nettings in little-known subantarctic and Antarctic waters... Approximately 100 prominent geographical features were named by Sir Douglas during the two voyages.' Fletcher, H, (1984) Antarctic days with Mawson

Excellent accounts of the BANZARE expeditions outlining the science conducted and the journeys undertaken include Harold Fletcher’s Antarctic Days with Mawson and The winning of Australia’s Antarctica, an edited version of Mawson’s papers by A. Grenfell Price.

Video of Douglas Mawson reading a proclamation during BANZARE:
[Video]

Douglas Mawson reading a proclamation during BANZARE

Video transcript

Douglas Mawson Proclamation during BANZARE

February 7, 1933

DOUGLAS MAWSON

I, sir Douglas Mawson, do hereby so claim and declare to all men that from and after the date of the present, the full sovereignty of the territory that we have discovered and explored south of latitude sixty-four degrees and as far as the south pole, this in his majesty King George the fifth, his heirs and successors, forever.

[end transcript]