Australasian Antarctic Expedition 1911-14

Aurora, framed by ice in the foreground
Aurora (Photo: Frank Hurley)
Expeditioner bent over in the face of wind and blowing snowExpeditioners with huskies

Young Australian geologist Douglas Mawson had been part of Shackleton's Nimrod expedition in 1907 and was in the small party that were the first to reach the South Magnetic Pole. Mawson was fixated with Antarctica and the discoveries that could be made there, so began organising an Australian venture. Mawson's Australasian Antarctic expedition successfully established bases at Commonwealth Bay and the Shackleton Ice Shelf. The expedition explored extensively along the coast near the bases and claimed this land as British territory.  

The planning, financing and crewing of this expedition can be read in detail at the Australian Antarctic Division’s Home of the Blizzard website which has been established to honour the centenary of the Australasian Antarctic expedition (AAE).

The AAE has joined the ranks of those expeditions that are legendary for the sheer tenacity of spirit, physical endurance, loyalty and accomplishment that was achieved under profoundly difficult circumstances. It is hard to imagine today just what a leap into the unknown Mawson was taking, and the huge store of scientific knowledge that was derived from that expedition continues to impress greatly. Mawson was a committed scientist and excellent leader, with the foresight to also introduce radio to Antarctica to report weather phenomena.

In 1929–1931 further extensive claims to sovereignty were made by the British, Australian and New Zealand Antarctic Research Expedition (BANZARE) again led by Douglas Mawson.