Centenary of Mawson’s Expedition .The early twentieth century was the ‘heroic age’of Antarctic exploration – a time when adventurers such as Scott and Shackleton were national icons who personified the contemporary ideal of manly struggle for the good of Empire. But, while these two are world famous to this day, Australian Douglas Mawson, whose Australasian Antarctic Expedition, undertaken in 1911 after Mawson had been a key member of Shackleton’sNimrodexpedition, Dr Edmund Hillary described as ‘the greatest survival story in the history of exploration’, is not. He should be, however. Mawson’s expedition, undertaken on a small whaling ship calledAuroracombines several exceptionally exciting elements. Once in the Antarctic, the expedition split up into smaller parties exploring different areas. The two other members of Mawson’s party died and Mawson was left to struggle hundreds of miles back to base on his own. Despite incredible odds, he made it, only to find that the rescue ship had sailed away, leaving him to face a year on his own in the Antarctic. Mawson, who had complex relationships with both Scott and Shackleton, was changed utterly by his struggles in the Antarctic and his story is a fascinating insight into the human psyche under extreme stress.
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