Old Antarctica And The First Australasian Antarctic Expedition

In our modern day and age, we almost take our satellites for granted. We do not appreciate how easy it is for us to take images of the world that help us understand our planet better. Before they existed, to better understand our surroundings, explorations had to take place that pushed men to the boundaries of their mental and physical limits. The first ever Australasian Antarctic expedition with the aim of investigating and researching the Antarctic coast left in the early 1900s on the ship the Aurora. The expedition was tougher than anyone could have previously imaged and sadly, two men died in a sledging trip.

Seals In Their Lazy Boys

This picture shows seals getting their heads down and resting out in the sun, all in the Antarctic version of an armchair. Whilst they may look lazy to humans, in actual fact, the life of a seal is a very difficult. All their food is fish but to go hunting they have to risk their lives in the Killer Whale infested waters in which they live. It’s good to see pictures like this, especially in this day, as seals have less and less space to sunbathe due to global warming.

Iceberg Ahead

Everyone knows that icebergs are incredibly dangerous, owing to the way that the Titanic came to its sad end. They are dangerous, not only because they are hard to spot, but because most of their mass is hidden underwater. Whilst this may seem hard to comprehend, given how big they are above water, as evidenced in this picture, it is thought that only a third of an iceberg, at most, is ever over the surface of the sea. Intrigued? Keep reading to find out more Old Antarctica facts.

Crew Member Gear

The members of the crew that took on this dangerous mission were wearing the most state of the art dress – for the time. It’s hard to believe that explorers managed to cope as long as they did when they were wearing clothing that would make most of us say no to taking on such an expedition. They had to deal with sub-zero temperatures that were made to feel even colder owing to the harsh Antarctic winds that were blowing throughout their exploration of this inhospitable piece of coastline.

A Sclater Penguin

This perfectly formed composition of a photograph is staggering. Taking photographs in the early 1900s was extremely difficult – even in the kindest of conditions and with subjects that knew to keep still. This image of a Sclater penguin is, as a consequence, a remarkable achievement for Frank Hurley. This species of penguin is also known as the erect-crested penguin and were discovered by the British zoologist, Philip Lutley Sclater. They are sadly on the Endangered Species List owing to only ever living and breeding in two small areas.

A Wreck Amongst The Penguins

This image is still interesting to onlookers today – let alone in the early 1900s when very few images of the Antarctic would have been seen. It is fascinating to analyze owing not only to the huge number of penguins included but also the huge ship wreckage in the background that the penguins seem to be very undaunted by. The ship is understood to be the wreck of The Gratitude which crashed onto Macquarie Island, where this picture was taken. Fascinated? Keep on clicking for yet more amazing pictures.

Nature’s Rooms

Whilst this cavern must have been absolutely freezing, it must still have offered a fair amount of shelter to the explorers of the Australasian Antarctic expedition. It is staggering to see what nature can do when left to its own devices, as evidenced here in the huge space that was carved by the sea in an ice wall. This particular ice wall was reported to be near Commonwealth Bay. The lone figure at the end is a member of the team, whose name was never given for this image.

Cold As Ice

It is images like this that really send home the message as to why two team members sadly did not make it home from the immense Australasian Antarctic Expedition. This is an image of C.T. Madigan with an ice mask on. C.T Madigan was originally born, Cecil Thomas Madigan in London and he married an Australian. He was an officer in the British Army in the First World War. He later continued his work as an explorer, geologist and meteorologist.

Snow Dogs

This image is of the dogs Basilisk and Ginger at foot of Cape Denison. Dogs are now actually banned from Antarctica following the Antarctic Treaty that asked for all non-native species to be removed from the area. They had been used on several explorations of Antarctica with them pulling sleds behind them full of equipment for the most daredevil of explorers. They also prove useful for warmth and were often used by adventurers to keep them warm in the middle of the night.

Kissing Penguins

It is widely thought that penguins are one of the most monogamous species on the planet. If they find a mate, they have found that mate for life and will die broken hearted when their mate dies. A picture like this is an example of why penguins hold such a dear place in human hearts. King Penguins are only smaller in comparison to the height of the well-known Emperor penguin. Males can reach about a meter high at their tallest. Click to read more intriguing Antarctic facts.

A Sea Elephant Skeleton

This image is incredibly eerie, but it would have been a biologist’s dream to find such a perfectly preserved sample. Sea elephants are large seals and are now thought to be near extinction. They got their name from not only their huge size, but also from the big nose that they also have. Harold Hamilton, one of the team’s biologists, is pictured here with the skeletal find. He was originally from New Zealand and once acted as an Entomological collector for a museum in Wellington.

Icebergs of Dreams

Every so often, nature does something that looks unbelievable. This photograph is an example of just that. It is a wonder of the frozen world and makes the viewer ponder as to how the iceberg could form like that. The original explorers must have been spellbound when they first encountered this. Keen to see yet more phenomenal pictures that will blow your mind? Keep clicking to see and learn more about this incredibly dangerous expedition to the Antarctic taken at the turn of the 20th century.

The Time After A Blizzard

Just because animals that live in the Antarctic have a head start in dealing with the weather, due to the millions of years of evolution they have gone through, does not mean they have it easy. This is a picture of a sweet little Adelie penguin that has been encased in ice after a blizzard at Cape Denison. His fellow penguins seem marginally better off but are still covered in snow too. Whether they are going to help him or not is unknown, but the picture is pretty sweet nonetheless.

Babies in the Antarctic

Pictures like this make it on to sweet Hallmark greeting cards these days, but in reality, this image was taken in the most treacherous of conditions. The husky pup is having to deal with a blizzard, which makes the already inhospitable landscape, even more tricky to deal with. When you see a species as young as this, in the backdrop of such hard lands, it is a wonder that anything has ever survived. Keep clicking for more sweet and astounding pictures like this one.

Sledge Pulling

Whilst dogs are now removed from the Antarctic, this picture shows why they were so useful to man when they were there. Incredibly strong, and very difficult to tire, huskies are extremely hard-working breeds of canine that were also a man’s best friend. They made what the explorers of this hard expedition did achieve possible – without them, Mawson and his team members simply would not have got half as far as they did. It would not have been humanly possible.

Penguin Ice Sculpture

This photograph shows a penguin almost frozen whilst out in Antarctica. It is an Adelie penguin so common along the Antarctic coast – though this is the only place that they are found. Of all the birds in the world, they are the most southerly species, as well as the more commonly known Emperor penguin. They are named after the wife of Jules Dumont d’Urville, who discovered this species in the 1840s. His wife was called Adele and they were both of French heritage.

Birds Defending

These birds are a species called Shags. For the Brits and Aussies out there, that’s a funny name for any animal. This picture is heartwarming though, either way. It depicts two birds defending their nest and their young. It’s set on Macquarie Island and captures a rare glimpse of the protective nature of any species when it comes their offspring. Click on to see yet more astounding pictures of Old Antarctica – what these explorers got up to will astonish you.

Seal Swimming

There is something inherently cute about a seal – maybe it is there huge doe like eyes, or their sweet little whiskers, or their always blubbery body, but they do endear themselves easily to the human race. Here, Frank Hurley, has taken a snapshot of a Weddell Seal in Shackleton Ice Shelf. They got their name from the explorer, James Weddell in the 1800s. Weddell was a British sealing captain who led expeditions to the Southern Ocean, now also referred to as the Weddell Sea.

Basic Fishing Rounds

This image depicts a fairly basic way of gathering samples for the biologist on the expedition to the Antarctic. Here, the team are trying to gather samples of Macro plankton from Aurora. Macro plankton are a type of plankton that are larger than the usual minuscule types we see in ponds and seas around us. This picture is fascinating however to see how rudimentary the explorer’s equipment was, when you compare it to our submarines and other fishing instruments that we have today.

Commonwealth Bay

Some of Hurley’s pictures seem at odds with the result of the expedition – or rather this picture looks idyllic, yet the fact that not everyone returned for the voyage is a stark reminder that visiting the Antarctic is no holiday. Here, F. Bickerton is taking in the view of the seas near Commonwealth Bay. Below, you can see the ice breaking up to form small islands on which we have previously seen seals sunbathe when they needed a break from hunting. Stunning shot hey? Keep clicking to see more…

The Team’s Air Tractor

This is a picture of Bickerton with the air tractor that the team took to help complete their mission. The frame is a mere two and a half meters tall. Recently, a charity that is stationed in the Antarctic, the Mawson’s Huts Foundation, started an expedition of its own, to try to find remnants of this plane. Its actual make and model was a Vickers monoplane that had broken on a practice flight – from there, it was Bickerton who turned it into an air tractor for use on their voyage.

Not Your Average Penguin

It was on the expedition of the Antarctic that the team realized just how many species of penguins there were. This one is the species called the Victoria penguin and is one of the cuddlier versions of the bird. It is thought that these smaller penguins were the inspiration behind the look of the penguins in the famous Madagascar films, who helped make the film such a big success. Surprised? Keep clicking to find out how more on how this expedition to Antarctica influenced us today.

Bedtime for the Explorers

We, perhaps, today take it for granted the lengths that these intrepid explorers went to find out what happens in all corners of the globe – even if they had to endure sub-zero temperatures. This image is a reminder of all Mawson’s team went through on their exploration. Here, the two pictured are Wild and Watson. They are huddled up in their fur lined sleeping bags in the sleeping bag tent on a sledge journey. It is astonishing to think that they did this at the turn of the 20th century.

Some Home Comforts

The team did everything they could to make the expedition as enjoyable as possible. This meant setting up a base with some home comforts, like here in the camp’s kitchen. You can see several items that you would find in a home (and several you wouldn’t), like all the china mugs and other crockery as well as a stove for cooking hot meals on. Whilst it may be a little haphazard, the kitchen’s warmth was one of the nicest places for the team to be when on this expedition.

A Sea Elephant Pup

This image is of team member, Arthur Sawyer, with a sea elephant pup. The pup has not quite grown its nose yet that gives the sea elephant its name and as a consequence, is still very sweet looking in its infancy. Sawyer’s part in the trip was that of a telegraphic operator. It was Mawson who ensured that he was a team member as Mawson believed wholeheartedly in the importance of linking Antarctica and Australia by wireless telegraphy. Sawyer apparently slept with his equipment to ensure its safety.

Mertz Climbing Out of The Hut By The Roof

This picture is hard to understand initially – it seems so alien to see someone leaving the house by the roof, but also have that roof so close to the ground. The gentleman climbing out of the roof trap door is a Swiss explorer names Xavier Mertz. He sadly died on the Australasian Antarctic Expedition and as such a glacier was named after him. The Mertz Glacier will always now remember the explorer’s sacrifice and the ordeal he went through before his untimely death.

Digging In For The Winter

It seems strange to think that somewhere like Antarctica had winters, but it most definitely did, and these were the quarters that the team lived in during the Winter. There were also endless hours of darkness to endure and deal with. Think that is a remarkable way to live? Keep clicking to see what other hardships the team had to endure on their quest to discover all the Antarctic had to offer. Some of the pictures will have you rubbing your eyes in disbelief.

The Female of The Species

The female of the species that is the Sea Elephant are really no more attractive than their male counterparts – though their noses are far smaller. The nose, in males, is their way of attracting females to mate with. For sea elephants, the bigger the nose, the better the male. This image was taken on Macquarie Island and is an unusual picture from Hurley’s back catalogue given the fact that handwriting is present on the image, in the top right-hand corner.

A Photographer’s Work

This picture captures the expedition’s main photographer washing his film in the water from the deck of the Aurora. In the background, you can not only see a lifeboat, but also you can very faintly see the icy land in the distance. The cliffs of ice are immense, and they make what was a big ship, like the Aurora, look small. This image is another reminder of the difficulties that the explorers had to overcome to make their mission a success.

Upping Supplies

This image likely depicts some of the team taking much needed supplies to an outpost on the mission’s exploration. Whilst the team of men that Mawson put together where strong and adventurous, it is important to remember that unlike voyages and explorations made by the likes of Shackleton, Mawson’s trip did actually manage to also produce a great deal of interesting scientific and geological findings. He took the best scientists he could convince to take the hard trip to Antarctica for as many winters as he could persuade them of.

Sleep Sledging

This is a prime example of just how tough life was on this Australasian Antarctic Expedition. Here, the team’s leader, Mawson, is taking a rest on the side of a sledge and recuperating while he can. The environment around him looks exceedingly hostile and yet he is able to kick back and relax – presumably because he was simply so tired. This was a shot taken on the first sledge journey the team took to Adelie Land. This was from their outward journey.

Teenage Tantrums

These are young sea elephants that have not quite made it to adulthood yet. Male sea elephants can reach over 20 feet long and almost up to 9000 pounds. Whilst they look docile and friendly enough – anything that size would have had to be treated with caution on Mawson’s expedition. In recent times, the animals have rebounded back from low numbers that had been caused by increased hunting of them. They had been wanted for their oil, but now there are environmental laws in place to protect them.

A Captive Audience

This image looks like it could have been staged. It’s a stunning shot from Frank Hurley with the gathering of penguins gamely looking on to the Aurora – even with what look to be three little infants to the left of the main group. The Aurora looks majestic in the background and is a reminder of what age the explorers on this expedition came from. Here, Aurora is anchored to some floe ice, just off Queen Mary Land. Fascinating isn’t it? Keep on clicking to see some more amazing shots.

The Antarctic’s NASA

This image shows Edward Bage just outside the team’s Astronomic Observatory. Whilst it’s not quite NASA, it is an example of the level of interest the team had in observing Antarctica and learning as much as they could. Bage certainly was not just there to explore for the sake of exploring. He had trained quickly in astronomy back in Melbourne, Australia before embarking on the trip with Mawson. He was a well-liked member of the team owing to his cheery disposition.

More Of Bage

Bage had originally been a member of the Australian army before he joined Mawson’s team. Here is an image of him with fellow team member, J. Hunter at 65 Miles south. On one of Bage’s sledding expeditions, he set a record for the longest distance achieved in a twenty-four-hour period. He did so with the help of the expedition’s photographer, Frank Hurley and the magnetician, Eric Webb. Bage was recorded as having suffered acute snow blindness in this time.

Icebergs Again

We all know what can happen when a ship hits an iceberg, so scenes like this must have really spooked some of the sailors. Whilst these floating packs of ice are not big enough to cause damage, they are at least a reminder of what may lie ahead. The team that were aboard the ship, the Aurora, at this point were past the point of return. Here the ship is entering the D’urville Sea. Keep on clicking to see more shots of this treacherous expedition.

The Team’s Uniform

There are not too many images of the team dressed up to go out and survive the sub-zero temperatures. Presumably this is due to the limitations of photography at the time and the difficulties the conditions would have produced for Frank Hurley to capture many outside shots. In this image alone. you can see how windy the environment was with the flags billowing in the background. The shot also gives a good indication of how big the sleds were that had to be transported from one post to another.

The Leader Returns

This shot shows Mawson about to disembark the Aurora in New Zealand. Beside him is his team’s meteorologist for the Cape Denison satellite team, the gentleman previously mentioned, Cecil Madigan. Cape Denison was in Commonwealth Bay and was home to the main base or winter quarters. Some of the huts that were built then are still standing today. Cape Denison in Commonwealth Bay has been described as the windiest coastal place on earth. This is a meteorologist’s dream and was one of the reasons Mawson and Madigan chose the spot.

Dropping Off Supplies

This is a shot of supplies being dropped off at base camp in Cape Denison, Commonwealth Bay. Supplies were one of the day to day activities that the team had to partake in to keep the expedition going as well as keeping it successful. Whilst many of them were keen to keep on with their scientific research, the jobs regarding supplies were divided up as fairly as possible to share the important load. Read on to see our next awe-inspiring picture.

Frozen Aurora

This is spine chilling shot of the ship that the team had set sail in. Whether it was taken going to or from the start or end of their mission is unknown, but it really drives home how difficult life would have been for Mawson and his men. The sea in the background alone looks treacherous enough let alone before you take into account the ice-covered masts that was meant to keep them safe. Make sure you click next to see the most shocking picture of all…

Walking into the Wind

Two team members have been sent out here in a blizzard at base camp, Cape Denison, to collect ice. You can just about make out their ice picks in the swirling wind and snow storm. In the background are the rooftops of ‘The Grottoes’, which were the nickname for the huts that were home to many of the team. This picture is a prime example of images taken by Frank Hurley that really depict the hardships that these gentlemen went through, all in the name of science.