Traversing Antarctica: the Australian experience

One hundred years ago the 1911 - 1914 Australasian Antarctic Expedition (AAE), famously led by Sir Douglas Mawson, spent many cold months exploring the enigmatic and deadly continent of Antarctica.

From March 16 to May 26, 2013, a rare collection of artefacts from the expedition will be on display at the Western Australian Museum - Geraldton as part of Traversing Antarctica: the Australian experience, a national travelling exhibition celebrating Australia’s connection with the icy continent.

WA Museum – Geraldton manager Leigh O’Brien said the exhibition takes visitors on a journey from Mawson’s time to modern day.

“Antarctica is a significant place of cultural, historical and scientific value to Australians,” Ms O’Brien said.

“The AAE was Australia’s first large-scale, overseas scientific investigation after Federation, laying the foundation for the country’s eventual claim to a very large portion of the Antarctic continent and its resources.”

Designed to stimulate the imagination of life on the harsh continent, the exhibition features original equipment from early expeditions such as a man-hauling sled and harness, and copies of letters and diaries kept by Mawson and his team.

Visitors will also experience life in the land of blizzards via a live webcam set up at Davis Station and interactive time-lapse photographs of the awe-inspiring Aurora Australis.

Ms O’Brien said despite the physical distance, there are a number of links between the Mid West, Western Australia, and Antarctica.

“A number of Antarctic expeditioners live locally in Geraldton, and will join the WA Museum’s head of conservation and fellow expeditioner, Dr Ian Godfrey, for two public lectures on the challenges of living and working in Antarctica,” she said.

The public lectures will take place at the WA Museum - Geraldton on Tuesday 19 March at 7pm, and Wednesday 20 March at 10am.

For more information on the exhibition and lectures, visit

‘Traversing Antarctica: the Australian Experience’ was developed by the National Archives of Australia in collaboration with the Australian Antarctic Division and the Western Australian Museum.

This exhibition is supported by Visions of Australia, an Australian Government program supporting touring exhibitions by providing funding assistance for the development and touring of Australian cultural material across Australia.