The main base for the Australasian Antarctic Expedition was established at Cape Denison, in Commonweath Bay. The building was complete by early 1912 and the expeditioners, including Frank Hurley, took up residence.
Over the next 12 months, Hurley documented life in the hut. His record of the everyday and routine–work that supports any expedition is unique and rich, documenting a now superceded chapter of Antarctic life.
The Main Base (now known as Mawson’s Hut) was divided into two main spaces, the living quarters and the workshop. Hurley’s photographic darkroom was contained in the living quarters.
The men got along well together, tasks and routines were allocated, entertainments organised and plans made for future exploration and science-based activities. Special days, such as the traditional midwinter feast and party, and birthdays were celebrated, enhancing the bonds between the men.
Hurley produced a series of stereo negatives during the expedition, using a camera with twin lenses. Seen through a special viewer called a stereoscope, prints from these negatives appeared as three-dimensional ("3-D") images. However, in order to view these images in 3-D today, the left and right halves must be transposed.
Midwinter dinner menu
Midwinter in Antarctica is a special time. It marks the equinox and the slow return of the sun. The midwinter dinner of 22 June 1912 was a merry and harmonious celebration at Main Base. Walter Hannam and Francis Bickerton prepared the meal. Mawson wrote:
‘their menu de dinner to us was a marvel of gorgeous delicacies. After the toasts and speeches came a musical and dramatic programme, punctuated by choice choruses. The washing up was completed by all hands at midnight. Outside, the wind was not to be undone; it surpassed itself with an unusual burst of ninety-five miles per hour’