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Antarctic Expedition: Welcome home to Mr. Mawson
Title : Antarctic Expedition: Welcome home to Mr. Mawson Antarctic Expedition: Welcome home to Mr. Mawson
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Source : Advertiser, 22 April 1909, p. 8, col. d-f
Place Of Creation : Adelaide
Publisher : Frederick Britten Burden and John Langdon Bonython
Date of creation : 1909
Format : Newspaper
Contributor : State Library of South Australia
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Description :

The article reports Douglas Mawson's return from Sir Ernest Shackleton's British Antarctic Expedition, 1907-09. On this expedition Mawson with two companions had reached the South Magnetic Pole, and been one of the first group of men to climb Mt. Erebus, an active volcano. The article also reports how a body of 100 students pulled Mawson in triumph along North Terrace in a railway porter's wagon.

Mawson had gone south on Ernest Shackleton's Antarctic expedition because he wanted to study ice caps and glaciation because of implications for the study of South Australian geology. While there he had made the first ascent of the active volcano Mt Erebus which towered above their base on Ross Island assisting with a valuable scientific study of the mountain. He was also a member of the small party which made the long march and attained the South Magnetic Pole. This comprised Edgeworth David as leader, Alistair Mackay, and Mawson.

The three men man-hauled their sledges across the sea ice of McMurdo Sound, and then across the Drygalski Ice Tongue and up the Larson Glacier to the Polar Plateau. It was a tortuous journey, at one stage relaying the sledges across the roughest sections of the climb. The food was inadequate for the cold conditions of the polar plateau as Shackleton would discover himself on his journey to the South Pole.

Professor David in his account to the Sydney Morning Herald on the expedition's return described the polar plateau 'as an immense high level plateau of snow, like a great snow prairie, at an altitude of between 7000ft and 8000ft from sea level. Wave after wave of snow extended on every side.'

He also had high praise for Mawson '... I say that Mawson was the real leader and was the soul of our expedition to the magnetic pole. We really have in him an Australian Nansen of infinite resource, splendid physique, astonishing indifference to frost.'

In Adelaide The Advertiser of 22 April described Mawson as : 'over 6ft high, broad shouldered, and erect as a dart, he looks quite capable of giving a good account of himself in times of emergency. He is spare as one might expect to see a man who had fasted, fair skinned, with a keen, intellectual face and blue eyes, into which a merry twinkle came as he spoke ...'

Neither David or The Advertiser could know to what degree those qualities would be called upon in a few short years in an epic solo journey in Antarctica.

Related names :

Mawson, Douglas, Sir, 1882-1958

British Antarctic Expedition, 1907-1909

David, T. W. Edgeworth (Tannatt William Edgeworth), Sir, 1858-

Coverage year : 1909
Region : Adelaide city
Further reading :

Shackleton, Ernest Henry, Sir, The heart of the Antarctic; being the story of the British Antarctic expedition 1907-1909, with ... an account of the first journey to the south magnetic pole by Professor T. W. Edgeworth David, F.R.S. London, W. Heinemann, 1909

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

Branagan, David F. T.W. Edgeworth David: a life: geologist, adventurer, soldier and 'Knight in the old brown hat' Canberra: National Library of Australia, 2005

Huntford, Roland, Shackleton London; Sydney: Hodder and Stoughton, c1985

Sydney Morning Herald 31 March 1909, p. 8: Professor David: Arrival in Sydney

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