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Australasian Antarctic Expedition - Records, 1 Dec. 1910 - 1...

Australasian Antarctic Expedition - Records, 1 Dec. 1910 - 1 Dec. 1915, together with related and miscellaneous papers, 1874-1934, and including manuscripts of the published scientific reports with related papers, 1911-1947

On this day, December 1st 1959 the Antarctic Treaty was signed in order to protect the Continent from environmental exploitation. The earlier work of crew of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition in 1911-14 helped highlight the region and the uniqueness of the landscape.

The Expedition party left Hobart in the S.Y. ‘Aurora’, captained by John King Davis, on Dec. 1911. After establishing a base at Macquarie Island, they arrived in Adelie Land at the main base, which they named Cape Denison, on 8 Jan. 1912. Eighteen men, including Mawson, remained at the main base and the 'Aurora’ proceeded in a westerly direction to find a suitable location for the western base. Eight men were landed on the Shackleton Ice Shelf under the command of Frank Wild. The 'Aurora’ returned to Hobart.

A sledging party, consisting of Mawson, Ninnis and Mertz, met with tragedy when, on 14 Dec. 1912, Ninnis perished down a crevasse, together with a sledge carrying most of the provisions, when the party was still 300 miles from base. Mertz became ill and died on the return journey. The weakened Mawson reached the main base on 8 Feb. 1913, only hours after most of the men had left on board the 'Aurora’. Five men had stayed to await the return of the missing sledging party. The ship went on to relieve the western base, but on its return it was unable to reach the main base due to bad weather. Mawson and his companions were forced to spend another winter in Antarctica. The 'Aurora’ returned in Dec. 1913, and they reached Port Adelaide, South Australia, on 26 Feb. 1914.

Presented by the Committee on Printing of Records of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition, Government Printing Office, Sydney, 1923-1947