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Antarctic exploration expedition returns

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Catalogue record

Object Source: Advertiser, 2 April 1930, p. 20, col. b-i

Date of creation : 1930

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Format : Newspaper

A photographic spread covering the return from Antarctic waters of Sir Douglas Mawson's expedition. Photographs include the ship Discovery, scientists including C T Madigan, Sir Douglas Mawson and Captain J K Davis and the expedition's cat. The photo spread also includes other matters of local interest.

The British Australian and New Zealand Antarctic Research Expedition (BANZARE) had sailed in October 1929, its aims to make territorial claims, to chart the coast of the 'Australian quadrant' between 45 degrees and 160 degrees East, to conduct aerial surveys over the land, and make full oceanographical, meteorological, geological and biological studies of the area. In particular it was also to note the numbers and distribution of whales. Sir Douglas Mawson was appointed leader of this expedition and was empowered by the King 'to take possession of any land he may discover in the course of the expedition...' (Martin, p. 169)

The three governments financed the expedition and in addition there were a number of private supporters including Sir MacPherson Robertson. The ship used was Robert Falcon Scott's Discovery on loan from the British Government. Her captain was John King Davis, who had commanded the Aurora during Mawson's Australasian Antarctic Expedition 1911-1914.

The expedition visited the remote Crozet and Kerguelen Islands in the southern Indian Ocean, as well as Heard Island before proceeding south to Antarctica. Weather and ice conditions were difficult but finally on the last day of 1929 the Gypsy Moth piloted by Flight Lieutenant Stuart Campbell was able to scout ahead and reported impenetrable pack ice for 40 miles (approximately 64 kilometres) to the south with possible land beyond that. To the west the pack was navigable. On 5 January 1930 Mawson flew with Campbell and 40 miles to the south could discern a high rocky land which was named Mac-Robertson Land after the expeditions principal private sponsor. On 12 January Mawson was able to get ashore on a small island and make the territorial claim that Canberra was by now demanding. For the politicians scientific research came second to this.

Mawson was disappointed with the results of the expedition: continual bickering with Captain Davis exacerbated the situation when scientists were unable to get ashore to properly explore and study the land. However, despite the Depression which was now taking hold in Australia, a second voyage was planned for the following year.

On the preceding page of The Advertiser details of the expedition and of its hearty welcome in Port Adelaide are given. The ship Discovery receives some attention, an auxiliary-powered sailing ship was unusual in this period: an old sailor's comments on her are recorded 'She is a tidy craft.' The South Australian Aero Club made a fly past in welcome and a man fell overboard from the wharf and managed to scramble unaided aboard the ship. Professor Harvey Johnston from the University of Adelaide comments upon the scientific achievements of the expedition.


Related names

Discovery (Ship)

Further reading

Martin, Stephen A history of Antarctica Sydney: State Library of New South Wales Press, 1996

Ayres, Philip J Mawson: a life Carlton South, Vic.: Miegunyah Press: Melbourne University Press, 1999

British, Australian, and New Zealand Antarctic Research Expedition (1929-1931) The winning of Australian Antarctica; Mawson's B.A.N.Z.A.R.E. voyages, 1929-31, based on the Mawson papers. By A. Grenfell Price. Published for the Mawson Institute for Antarctic Research, University of Adelaide [Sydney] Angus and Robertson 1962

Swan, Robert A. Australia in the Antarctic: interest, activity and endeavour Parkville, Vic.: Melbourne University Press, 1961


Australian Antarctic Division: Images of BANZARE 1929-31

Australian Dictionary of Biography online: Mawson, Sir Douglas (1882-1958)

Australian Dictionary of Biography online: Davis, John King (1884-1967)

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