Douglas Mawson

After Shackleton's heroic effort to attain the South Pole, the whole world stood by in anticipation as Scott and Amundsen announced their plans to conquer the extremes and grab the prize at 90°S. As their bases were being established in 1911, Australian geologist Douglas Mawson was quietly organizing an Australasian expedition to chart the 2000-mile coastline directly south of Australia. The great span between Cape Adare, lying to the south of New Zealand, and Gauss Berg, lying south of the Indian Ocean, was virgin land virtually unexplored. Mawsons' plans were first exposed during a trip to Europe in February 1910 when discussions were held with Robert Scott. Scott was eager to include Mawson in the TERRA NOVA EXPEDITION as Mawson had certainly proved his tenacity when he forced his way along an unforgiving route to the South Magnetic Pole on Shackleton's NIMROD EXPEDITION. However, an inclusion of Mawsons' plans was simply out of the question as Scott's itinerary was already full. After speaking with Shackleton, Mawson had to decline Scott's offer.

The Australian Association for the Advancement of Science gave their stamp of approval to Mawsons' plans and pledged a significant sum of money towards the cost of the expedition. Finances were then raised by public subscription with substantial contributions coming from the Commonwealth and State Governments, the British Government and the Royal Geographical Society. Professor Sir David Orme Masson, of Melbourne, and Professor Sir Edgeworth David, of Sydney, were the primary members of the A.A.A.S. appointed to further the cause of the expedition and represent the expedition in Australia.

Mawson's expedition team was selected primarily from Australian and New Zealand universities. The expedition vessel came from the Newfoundland sealing fleet. The AURORA, built in Dundee, was still in relatively good condition despite her old age. The hull was made of stout oak planks, sheathed with greenheart and lined with fir. The bow was a mass of solid wood re-enforced with steel-plated armor. The heavy side frames were braced by two levels of horizontal oak beams. The primary dimensions were 165 feet in length, 30 feet in width and 18 feet in depth, with a carrying capacity of approximately 600 tons. The engines were compound, supplied with steam from a single boiler. Six large steel tanks were built into the bottom of the hold for storage of fresh water. On the deck was a deck-house, comprising the cook's galley, steward's pantry and two laboratories. Forward from this area was storage for kerosene, lamps and other supplies. The fo'c'sle-head accommodated the carpenters' stores while below it were the quarters for a crew of sixteen men.

Captain of the ship and second in command would be John King Davis, of NIMROD fame. From the time the AURORA arrived in London for refitting until her departure for Australia, the scene was busy as alterations and replacements were hurried along in order to fit her for future work in the Antarctic. Stores and gear were purchased as donations rolled in from Europe and Australia. Mawson left London on June 22, 1911, leaving final instructions with Davis for completing the overhaul and sailing her out to Hobart.


The Crew

The chief objective of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition was to investigate, as far as possible, the stretch of essentially unknown Antarctic coast extending between the farthest west of the TERRA NOVA EXPEDITION and the farthest east of the GAUSS EXPEDITION. Included in the scientific program would be examination of Macquarie Island lying 850 miles south-south-east of Hobart. In addition to land-based work, extensive investigation of the ocean and its floor between Australia and Antarctica was planned. No plans were made to attain the South Pole. From Hobart a course was to be set for Macquarie Island. A small party would land with stores and a hut and proceed to undertake scientific studies over the next year. After leaving Macquarie Island the ship would proceed along the meridian of 158°E longitude until reaching the ice pack. From here every attempt would be made to penetrate the ice to reach the continental mainland whereby a main party, equipped for a year's effort of scientific study and exploration, would be landed. A hut would be built and a Main Base established to enable the men extensive exploration opportunities over the Antarctic summer. The ship would then proceed westward as far as possible, before the end of the summer season, to establish a Western Base party. Having landed several parties, the AURORA would sail and steam her way back to Hobart. The following summer she would return to conclude the expedition and pick up the members of the land parties.

As stated earlier, most of the crew was made up of young graduates of Australian and New Zealand universities. Among the exceptions was Frank Wild, who was appointed in charge of one of the Antarctic wintering stations. Wild had already distinguished himself in the South on both the Scott and Shackleton expeditions. Also appointed in London were Lieutenant B.E.S. Ninnis of the Royal Fusiliers, Dr. X. Mertz, an expert Swiss mountaineer and F.H. Bickerton, in charge of the air-tractor sledge.


Staff of the Adelie Land Station
(Main Base)*

Dr. D. Mawson          Commander of the Expedition
Lt. R. Bage            Astronomer, Assistant Magnetician & Recorder of Tides
C.T. Madigan           Meteorologist
Lt. B.E.S. Ninnis      In charge of Greenland dogs
Dr. X. Mertz           In charge of Greenland dogs
A.L. McLean            Chief Medical Officer, Bacteriologist
F.H. Bickerton         In charge of air-tractor sledge
A.J. Hodgeman          Cartographer and Sketch Artist
J.F. Hurley            Official Photographer
E.N. Webb              Chief Magnetician
P.E. Correll           Mechanic and Assistant Physicist
J.G. Hunter            Biologist
C.F. Laseron           Taxidermist & Biological Collector
F.L. Stillwell         Geologist
H.D. Murphy            In charge of Expedition stores
W. H. Hannam           Wireless Operator and Mechanic
J.H. Close             Assistant Collector
L.A. Whetter           Surgeon
Staff of the Queen Mary Land Station
(Western Base)

F. Wild                Leader, Sledge-master
A.D. Watson            Geologist
S.E. Jones             Medical Officer
C.T. Harrisson         Biologist
M.H. Moyes             Meteorologist
A.L. Kennedy           Magnetician
C.A. Hadley            Geologist
C. Dovers              Cartographer

Staff of the Macquarie Island Station

G.F. Ainsworth         Leader:  Meteorologist
L.R. Blake             Cartographer and Geologist
H. Hamilton            Biologist
C.A. Sandell           Wireless Operator & Mechanic
A.J. Sawyer            Wireless Operator

The Ship's Party

J.K. Davis             Master of the S.Y. Aurora & Second in Command of the Expedition
J.H. Blair             First Officer during the final Antarctic Cruise
P. Gray                Second Officer
C.P. de la Motte       Third Officer
F.J. Gillies           Chief Engineer

*  During the second year of occupation the party at the Main Base was reduced to seven: Bage, Madigan, Bickerton, Hodgeman and Mawson, together with S.N. Jeffryes, who relieved Hannam with wireless operations. Added to these officers were a crew of 19, making a total of 24 in the ship's company. N.C. Toucher and later F.D. Fletcher served during the earlier voyages.

On November 4, 1911, Captain Davis arrived at Hobart with the AURORA after a voyage from London taking 100 days. At 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, December 2, the AURORA departed from Hobart for Macquarie Island. "God speed" messages had been received from all over the world with kind wishes for success coming from Queen Alexandra and His Majesty the King. At dusk, the hills in the distance were silhouetted against the sky as a tiny, sparkling lamp glimmered from Signal Hill indicating a warm farewell. From the AURORA the men flashed back, "Good-bye, all snug on board". Onward they pressed into a shroud of darkness, drawn to the undiscovered lands of the south.

During the night the wind and sea rose into a full gale. Anxieties ran high as immense quantities of deck cargo began thrashing about. The crew constantly worked at the lashings as a thousand gallons of benzene, kerosene and spirits threatened the men with a dousing of toxic vapors. Most of the men passed through a phase of seasickness, but in most cases it passed quickly. The plug in one of the fresh water tanks was carried away allowing seawater to rush in. Thereafter, the drinking supply had to be rationed. The wind increased and on the morning of December 5 the ship was hit with a huge wave which carried the starboard side of the bridge clean away. By the morning of December 8 the seas had subsided to the point where the AURORA could once again steer for Macquarie Island. At daybreak on December 11 they sighted the island. By noon they were along Caroline Cove at which time a boat was lowered and a party rowed to shore. Several hours were spent examining the area, Webb and Kennedy took a set of magnetic observations while others carried some cases of stores to a small, rocky hill to form a depot as it was decided the northern area of the island would be more suitable for a permanent base. They arrived back on the AURORA that evening and Captain Davis set a course for the northern end of the island. Dangerous reefs could be seen with towering waterfalls falling hundreds of feet from the highlands to the lowlands below. They arrived at North-East Bay which lies on the eastern side of a low spit which connects the bulk of the island with a flat-topped hill--Wireless Hill--approximately three-quarters of a mile farther north. Near the end of the spit two small huts were spotted but no human life. Below the huts, upon rocks rising above the surf, lay a small schooner partly broken up. A mile south were fragments of another wreck. Suddenly a human figured appeared in front of one of the huts. He ran back into the hut and soon a whole number of men could be seen jumping and waving at them. One of the men signaled them with flags that the ship on the rocks was the CLYDED, that they had just recently become marooned and that all hands were safe. Besides the shipwrecked crew, some half-dozen men were residents of the island during the summer months for the purpose of collecting blubber. The sealers soon pushed a small boat right across the spit and came out to meet them. They were greatly relieved to hear that Mawson's auxiliary vessel, the TOROA, would be arriving soon and could take them back to civilization.

Ham Radio QSL Card Confirming My Contact With Macquarie Island

The hut was eventually built in the shadow of a large rock at the north end of the spit. After much discussion the wireless station was built at the summit of Wireless Hill, some three hundred and fifty feet high. By noon on December 13 all stores from the AURORA had been transferred ashore with most of the provisions arriving with the TOROA that afternoon. The provisions were quickly unloaded and the TOROA departed for Hobart on the morning of December 15. The final parting with the Macquarie Island party took place on the beach at dusk on the evening of December 23. The next morning they steamed down the west coast, southward bound.

At 4 p.m. on December 29 the cry of "Ice on the starboard bow!" was heard for the first time. On January 7 a bay, which Mawson named Commonwealth Bay, opened before them. On the far side of the bay was a cape presumed to be Cape Découverte, the most easterly extension of Adélie Land seen by Dumont d'Urville in 1840. At 4 p.m. on January 8, 1912, a whale boat was lowered and rowed towards shore. As land approached they found themselves amongst a group of islets, later named the Mackellar Islets. Weddell seals and Adélie penguins numbering in the thousands rested upon the rocks. The men soon stepped ashore, the first to set foot on the Antarctic continent between Cape Adare and Gaussberg, a distance of approximately 2000 miles. Cape Denison, as it was now called, became Mawson's Main Base of operations.

The unloading was completed by January 19 and it came none to soon. With January more than half over, the AURORA struggled along the coast to drop the eight-man Western Party, led by Frank Wild, on the Shackleton Ice Shelf at Queen Mary Land some 1500 miles from Cape Denison. Back at Cape Denison, the huts were completed by January 30 with the 18 men sleeping inside. By February the winds grew to a point that anything not tied down would be lost. Additionally, anyone caught outside without crampons would find himself in extreme danger. Calm days were so rare that routine chores outside were conducted in hurricane-force winds much of the time. Throughout March and April the wind often gusted to more than 100 miles per hour, occasionally peaking above 200 mph! The average wind speed for every hour of every day in May was 60.7 mph and on May 15 the wind averaged 90 mph over a twenty-four-hour period. On one occasion the 335-pound lid of the air-tractor case was blown 50 yards and, an hour later, was tossed back! The wind dominated their lives throughout the Antarctic winter.

At the end of February, despite dangerous weather conditions, Mawson decided to risk a short sojourn to survey the area. Cecil Madigan, the meteorologist, and Lt. R. Bage, the astronomer, joined Mawson on the trek. They planted flags, to guide the returning party, and managed to make 5.5 miles before weather forced them to turn back. One of the most important projects was to build two radio masts. Started on April 4, the job was not completed until September 1. Some of the work had to be done in 60 mph winds and on October 13 the whole system came crashing to the ground. However, during the few weeks that the antenna system was operational, messages transmitted to the AURORA and Macquarie Island were received but nothing was received on Mawson's end. Communication was not reestablished until February 13, when two-way communication between Adélie Land and Macquarie Island was achieved for the very first time.

Bage (L) & Mertz in Aladdin's Cave

Typical to many Antarctic expeditions of the era, winter months were filled with long periods of inactivity and boredom. During the winter of 1912, games, concerts and tomfoolery permeated the dark, cold days. After midwinter celebrations, the expedition prepared for spring sledging and on August 9 Mawson, Madigan and B.E.S. Ninnis headed south into a 40 mph gale. After struggling 5.5 miles, the men dug an ice shelter, which they named Aladdin's Cave, and set up a supply depot. In September an unusual five straight days of calm weather arrived. Several of the men sledged food and equipment to Aladdin's Cave while three other sledging parties tested equipment during the peaceful days. Mawson gave instructions to each sledging party to limit their respective travels to 14 days and 50 miles. Two of the parties fought 80 mph winds, making little headway, while another could only achieve 2.5 miles. The western party, however, did manage to make it 50-miles out but returned exhausted and frostbitten. During October the weather was so bad that no sledging was possible. In November the weather improved as Mawson made plans for further sledging. Five parties would head out with three traveling to the east, one south to the magnetic pole and one to the west. Mawson himself planned to lead the treacherous Far Eastern trek, using the dogs. A combination of the Southern and Support Party left Aladdin's Cave on November 10, heading in a southerly direction in horrible weather conditions.

Mawson instructed all men to return no later than January 15 as the AURORA was expected to be waiting for them. The Southern Party, led by Bage, struck out in gale-force winds as Webb took complicated magnetic readings to help guide them towards the magnetic pole. On November 22, after traveling 65 miles, the Support Party returned to Main Base as the three men, comprising the Southern Party, continued south on their 600-mile round trip. The temperatures were still cold at night and were typically below -20°F. They reached their farthest south on December 21 when time and food were running short. Webb calculated they were about 50 miles short of the south magnetic pole. The Near and Eastern Coastal parties had left Main Base on November 8 to rendezvous with Mawson's Far Eastern Party 18 miles southeast of Aladdin's Cave. Part of the Near Eastern Party's function was to provide support for the other two. They then worked along the coast between Cape Denison and the Mertz Glacier Tongue. Without a doubt, the Eastern Coastal Party, led by Madigan, enjoyed the most beautiful scenery of the expedition. By December 10 they had crossed the hazardous Mertz Glacier and, with rations for four weeks, tackled the Ninnis Glacier. The party's farthest east camp, on a rocky cliff called Horn Bluff, was pitched on December 18...they were 270 miles from Cape Denison. On the return trip they were delayed by blizzards and deep, soft snow while re-crossing the Mertz Glacier. They finally reached a food cache on Mt. Murchison after three days on nothing more than a mug of penguin broth each.

Vickers REP air-tractor

The Western Party, led by Frank Bickerton, planned on crossing the coastal highlands west of Cape Denison by using the air-tractor. Stripped of its wings, fittings and covering, the Vickers airplane was to be used as a tractor for towing sledges. The machine cost £900. Unfortunately, the engine could not withstand the extreme conditions and was abandoned early in the trek. Soft and drifting snow hampered their sledging with the team only making 31 miles in the first seven days. However, an extraordinary discovery took place as the first meteorite in Antarctica was discovered. The farthest camp to the west was pitched on Christmas Day, 158 miles from Main Base. Meanwhile at Cape Denison everyone, including the crew of the AURORA now awaited the return of Mawson's overdue Far Eastern Party, unaware that he would eventually stumble in, alone and exhausted, with a story to tell that rivals any pertaining to polar exploration.

Mawson and his three-man party left Main Base on November 10, 1912. By the end of November they had made it across the heavily crevassed Mertz Glacier and were now facing the "tumultuous and broken" Ninnis Glacier where progress "amid rolling waves of ice" was slow. For three days, from December 6 to the 9th, the party remained trapped by a 70 mph blizzard. On the 9th the dogs and sledges were dug out of the snow and the men proceeded on. On December 13 one of the sledges was discarded and on the 14th, Dr. Xavier Mertz, ahead on skis, signaled that he had spotted another snow-covered crevasse. Mawson made it across easily but Mertz cried out as Ninnis suddenly disappeared. Mawson turned around and was horrified to see Ninnis, the sledge and all the dogs gone. Rushing to the edge of the crevasse, the men stared down into a deep, gaping hole where, on a ridge some 150 feet below, was a dog, whining, its back apparently broken. Beneath that was only the abyss. Mertz and Mawson called into the depths for over three hours. They gathered all the rope they had but still could not even reach as far as the dog. They were in serious trouble as Ninnis's sledge, pulled by the six fittest dogs, had carried most of the indispensable supplies, including the tent, most of the food and spare clothing. The remaining sledge carried only 10 days of rations for the two men and nothing for the six dogs...they were 315 miles from Main Base.

They still had a spare tent cover, the cooker and some kerosene. But they had laid no depots on the outward journey as they expected to take an easier route back to Main Base. They made it back to the discarded sledge, picked up a few items and then disposed of everything not essential. A crude tent was devised by draping the remaining tent cover over skis and sledge struts. The dogs were fed worn-out finnesko, mitts and rawhide straps. On December 15 the weakest dog was killed to feed to the others and the men. This pattern was continued over the next 10 days until the final dog collapsed. Although the meat was tough and stringy, every scrap was eaten, including the paws which were stewed. By Christmas Day they were still 160 miles from Main Base. Most days they covered only 6 miles but on December 30 they managed 15. The next day Mertz asked to come off the dog-meat diet and try a small portion of their remaining sledging rations.
On January 1, 1913, he developed stomach pains and the next day his strength was nearly gone. They rested on January 5 and the next day they tried to forge on. Dr. Mertz finally agreed to be hauled on the sledge by this time Mertz even had to be helped in and out of his sleeping bag. One hundred miles southeast of Main Base, on January 7, Mertz became delirious and died. Mawson wrote, "For hours I lay in the bag, rolling over in my mind all that lay behind and the chance of the future. I seemed to stand alone on the wide shores of the world...My physical condition was such that I felt I might collapse at any moment...Several of my toes commenced to blacken and fester near the tips and the nails worked loose. There appeared to be little hope...It was easy to sleep on in the bag, and the weather was cruel outside". Then on January 17 Mawson found himself dangling in a crevasse at the end of his 14-foot harness. Delirious and exhausted, Mawson struggled to pull himself out, only to reach the lip and fall back in. Mawson wrote, "My strength was ebbing fast; in a few moments it would be too late. The struggle occupied some time, but by a miracle I rose slowly to the surface. This time I emerged feet first...and pushed myself out...Then came the reaction, and I could do nothing for quite and hour". By now it was taking Mawson two hours to set up camp at the end of each day. On January 27 a blizzard brought him to his knees but on the 29th, his food nearly gone, he spotted a snow cairn. It had been built by McLean, Hodgeman and Hurley who had been out searching for the party. The cairn was only a few hours old as Mawson consumed the food and read an attached note declaring the AURORA was waiting and Aladdin's Cave was only 23 miles distant. Mawson arrived at the cave at 7 p.m. on February 1, but the weather closed in and trapped him for another week. Eventually, he set out in spite of the conditions and reached Cape Denison in time to see a departing speck on the horizon...the AURORA.

However, Mawson was greeted as though back from the dead by six men left behind to continue the search. The AURORA was immediately recalled by radio but ice conditions prohibited the ship from returning. At Cape Denison, the seven men reconciled themselves to another winter of blizzards and confinement. But, they were well stocked with supplies and the repaired radio antenna survived all the spectacular blizzards. Mawson, Madigan and Hodgeman made a sledge trip in late November and on December 12 the AURORA returned. By December 24, 1913, their two-year expedition was over and on February 5, 1914, after more than a month of sailing along the Antarctic coast, Captain John Davis steered the ship northward. The AURORA entered Gulf St. Vincent on February 26. Mawson wrote, "The welcome home, the voices of innumerable strangers--the hand-grips of many friends--it chokes me--it cannot be uttered!"

As for the eight-man Western Party under Frank Wild, conditions were severe but not nearly as difficult as those at Main Base. The men settled into their hut, "The Grottoes", towards the end of the 1912 sledging season. An early disappointment was the destruction of the radio mast in the first blizzard. Throughout the winter the men worked each day from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Winds blew up to 100 mph and nearly buried the hut in snow. Depot-laying trips were still made as early as August and sledge parties later explored and mapped the nearby coastline. Wild's push to the east was brought up short due to severe crevasses in the Denman Glacier, 120 miles from base. The western team crossed the Helen Glacier and discovered extensive penguin rookeries in the process. By Christmas Day they reached Gaussberg, discovered some ten years earlier by Erich von Drygalski. The entire party was picked up by the AURORA on February 23, 1913.

The decade after the end of the first World War in Europe saw the beginning of the Mechanical Era which would completely revolutionize Antarctic exploration and scientific research. At an Imperial Conference held in London in 1926, the importance of further exploration and scientific research in the Antarctic quadrant claimed as British Territory, was strongly stressed. It was pointed out that a vital need was to continue and extend exploratory and scientific activities to solidify Britain's territorial rights to what constituted nearly one-third of the continent, extending between Enderby Land at 45°E and King George V Land at 160°E longitude, excluding Adélie Land. Following his expedition in 1911-14, a strong desire remained with Mawson to continue his work to the west beyond Enderby Land. In July 1927, an Antarctic Committee was set up, supported by the Australian National Research Council. After several meetings it was determined that an Australian Antarctic expedition be planned with Sir Douglas Mawson as leader. The area defined for exploration was the entire coast of the territory over which Britain claimed sovereignty.

One of the first major problems was to find a suitable ship. The expedition was extremely fortunate in that the famous DISCOVERY was made available by the British Government. Built in Dundee and launched in 1900, the ship served Robert Scott's British National Antarctic Expedition of 1901-04. After the return of the Scott expedition the vessel was sold to the Hudson Bay Company for trading purposes. In 1922, she was purchased by the British Government for oceanographic research in waters around the Falkland Islands Dependencies.

Plans and organization of the expedition were completed by June 1929. Due to joint interests and financial support, the expedition was to be called the British, Australian and New Zealand Antarctic Research Expedition, or BANZARE for short. The DISCOVERY, commanded by Mawson's old friend John K. Davis (who was also second in command of the expedition), sailed from Cardiff for Cape Town on August 18, 1929. Little interest was created as only a handful of spectators stood by the docks as the DISCOVERY slipped away. Nevertheless, the dock workers cheered and ships' sirens screamed a farewell as she steamed out on her voyage to the Cape. The ship sailed from Cape Town on October 29, 1929. The DISCOVERY stopped at Îles Crozets, Îles Kerguelen and Heard Island before continuing south to the Antarctic coastline.

An aerial survey by S.A.C. Campbell and E. Douglas on the last day of 1929 revealed indistinct icescapes, probably continental, at latitude 68°11'S, longitude 65°10'E. Mawson and Campbell flew on January 5, 1930, and confirmed an extensive new coast of ice cliffs and rocky mountains. Mawson named the discovered area MacRobertson Land. On January 13 a party landed on a steep offshore island and named it Proclamation Island. The British flag was raised and the claim to full sovereignty of the territory, including Enderby Land, Kemp Land and MacRobertson Land south of latitude 60°S and between latitudes 47° and 73°E, was read to a small shore party and a few penguins. Mawson wanted to stay longer but since this was never intended to be anything other than a summer expedition, Captain Davis insisted they head north rather than run the risk of running short of coal and becoming stuck in the ice. An attempt was made to obtain additional coal from a South African factory ship but inclement weather prohibited this so they sailed for Australia, via Kerguelen.

Final Proclamation / Cape Bruce, Feb 14, 1931

The second half of the BANZARE, again under the command of Sir Douglas Mawson, sailed from Hobart on November 22, 1930 and returned on March 19, 1931. This time Captain K.N. MacKenzie replaced Captain J.K. Davis as commander of the DISCOVERY but again there were problems of divided command and short coal supplies. The DISCOVERY first called at Macquarie Island and then searched for the Royal Company and Emerald Islands. Although these island groups were noted by early whalers, it is now known that they never existed. They continued on and reached Cape Denison on January 4, 1931. Mawson stepped ashore at Commonwealth Bay and once again visited his Main Base built in 1911. Magnetic measurements were taken with the discovery that the magnetic pole had moved a considerable distance since 1914. The ship then sailed along the Adélie and Wilkes Land coasts to the Banzare Land coast, Queen Mary Land, Princess Elizabeth Land and MacRobertson Land, where they crossed the path made the previous year. A number of flights and landings were made to reinforce surveys taken from the DISCOVERY. Following the conclusion of the BANZARE, a British Order in Council, of February 1933, affirmed the King's sovereignty over Antarctic territory south of latitude 60°S and, apart from Adélie Land, between longitudes 160°E and 45°E. The regions were placed under the control of the Commonwealth of Australia, from the date of her acceptance. The Acceptance Bill was proclaimed on August 24, 1936. The scientific work of the expedition took many years to gather and prepare and although much of it appeared in official BANZARE scientific reports, some results are still unpublished to this day.

Douglas Mawson was born in Yorkshire and came to Australia as a boy. He studied geology under Edgeworth David at Sydney University and was appointed a lecturer at Adelaide University in 1905. He was appointed Professor of Geology in 1920. Mawson retired from the university in 1952 and died in 1958, the last leader from the heroic era.

Ham Radio QSL Card Confirming My 2-Way RadioContact With Mawson Base


The Heart of the Antarctic, by Sir Ernest Shackleton.

Antarctica; the Extraordinary History of Man's Conquest of the Frozen Continent, by Reader's Digest.

Antarctic Days with Mawson, by Harold Fletcher.

Shackleton, by Roland Huntford.


"The Home of the Blizzard", by Sir Douglas Mawson

"Antarctica: The Extraordinary History of Man's Conquest of the Frozen Continent", second edition by Reader's Digest

"Chronological List of Antarctic Expeditions and Related Historical Events", by Robert K. Headland

"Antarctic Days with Mawson", by Harold Fletcher