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Historical Timeline of Australia's Antarctic Expeditions

  • Australasian Antarctic Expedition leaves Hobart

    Australasian Antarctic Expedition leaves Hobart
    At 4pm sharp, the Australasian Antarctic Expedition sails from Hobart aboard Aurora, bound for Macquarie Island and thence East Antarctica. Aurora carried fourteen members of the land parties to Macquarie Island.
  • Period: to

    Timespan of Australia's Antarctic Expeditions

    100 Years of Australian Antarctic Expeditions
  • SS Toroa departs Hobart

    SS Toroa departs Hobart
    The remaining members of Mawson's 1911 Australasian Antarctic Expedition leave Hobart aboard the SS Toroa for Macquarie Island.
  • Aurora departs Macquarie Island

    Aurora departs for Antarctica, after an AAE party had erected wireless masts and built a radio relay station on the Northern tip of Macquarie Island. This relay station would facilitate the first radio communication from Antarctica at Cape Denison. Five men under the leadership of George Ainsworth remain on Macquarie Island when Aurora leaves.
  • Aurora reaches Commonwealth Bay

    The Aurora reaches a wide bay that Mawson names Commonwealth Bay, and the expedition party lands at Cape Denison.
  • Return of western sledge journey

    The western sledge journey of Bickerton, Whetter and Hodgeman returns. They reached their furthest point 29 December 1912 and travelled a total of approximately 510 kilometres.
  • Aurora departs Commonwealth Bay to deploy the Western Party

    Aurora departs Commonwealth Bay to deploy the Western party led by Frank Wild
  • Huts at Cape Denison completed

    The huts at Cape Dension are completed
  • Aurora begins return journey to Hobart

    The Aurora departs for Hobart and a winter maritime research program in the Southern Ocean, after having disembarked the third AAE group – the Western Party led by Frank Wild – on the Shackleton Ice Shelf, 2410 kilometres from Commonwealth Bay.
  • Departure of southern reconnaissance journey

    Western base party: departure of southern reconnaissance journey, including Dovers, Harrisson, Hoadley, Jones, Moyes, and Wild.
  • First subantarctic cruise departs Sydney

    The first subantarctic cruise departs from Sydney. Includes Edgar Waite, Mr E J Haynes (taxidermist) and Mr Primmer (cinema operator).
  • Return of the southern reconnaissance journey

    Western base party: return of the southern reconnaissance journey of Dovers, Harrisson, Hoadley, Jones, Moyes and Wild.
  • First subantarctic cruise returns

    The first subantarctic cruise returns to Williamstown. The cruise, which departed Sydney on 17 March 1912, included Edgar Waite, EJ Haynes (taxidermist) and Mr Primmer (cinema operator).
  • Eastern depot laying journey departs

    Western base party: Departure of eastern depot laying journey of Dovers, Harrisson, Jones, Moyes, Watson and Wild.
  • Return of eastern depot laying journey

    The eastern depot laying journey of Dovers, Harrisson, Jones, Moyes, Watson and Wild return to the western base.
  • Western depot laying journey departs

    The western depot laying journey of Jones, Hoadley, Dovers, Moyes and Harrisson departs the western base.
  • Western depot laying journey returns

    The western depot laying journey of Jones, Hoadley, Dovers, Moyes and Harrisson returns to the western base.
  • Eastern sledge journey departs

    The eastern sledge journey of Wild, Kennedy, Harrisson and Watson departs the western base.
  • Western sledge journey departs

    The western sledge journey of Jones, Dovers and Hoadley departs the western base.
  • East coast sledge journey departs

    The East coast sledge joureney of Madigan, McLean and Correll departs Cape Denison. They reached their furthest point on 21 November.
  • Sledging journey departs for South Magnetic Pole

    Sledging party of Hurley, Bage and Webb depart Commonwealth Bay to travel 484 kilometres inland towards the South Magnetic Pole.
  • Far East sledge journey departs

    The far East sledge journey of Mawson, Mertz and Ninnis departs Cape Denison. They reached their furthest point on 14 December 1912.
  • East coast sledge journey returns

    27 November
    The East coast sledge journey of Madigan, McLean and Correll returns. They reached their furthest point on 21 November 1912, and travelled a total of 180 kilometres.
  • Western sledge journey departs

    The western sledge journey of Bickerton, Whetter and Hodgeman departs Cape Denison.
  • First meteorite in Antarctica found by western sledge journey

    The first meteorite to be found in Antarctica was discovered by the western sledge journey. It measured approximately 13 x 7.5 x 9 centimetres.
  • Near east sledge journey departs

    The near east sledge journey of Stillwell, Hodgeman and Close departed Cape Denison.
  • Southern sledge journey departs

    The southern sledge journey of Bage, Webb and Hurley departs Cape Denison.
  • Ninnis disappears down a crevasse

    Ninnis, his sledge, dogs and supplies disappear down a crevasse 500 kilometres from Cape Denison.
  • Second subantarctic cruise returns

    The second subantarctic cruise returns to King's Pier, Hobart.
  • Southern sledge journey reach southernmost point

    The southern sledge journey of Bage, Webb and Hurley reach the southernmost point of their journey.
  • Possession of Queen Mary Land proclaimed

    Possession of Queen Mary Land proclaimed 1912 – 25 December
    Possession of Queen Mary Land was proclaimed by Frank Wild. Douglas Mawson wrote: "After dinner Wild raised the Union Jack and in my name took possession of the land for King George and the British Empire. A slip of paper advising the ceremony was sealed up in a bottle and buried in a crack amongst the rocks."
  • Second Antarctic cruise departs

    The second Antarctic cruise departs Hobart aboard the Aurora to relieve the expedition. Also on board were: J Waterschoot van der Gracht, an artist; James Davis, a whaling master to report on the types of whales sighted; S.N. Jeffreys, a wireless operator; and C.C. Eitel, who acted as secretary and purser.
  • Return of near east sledge journey

    The near east sledge journey of Stillwell, Hodgeman and Close returns. They reached their furthest point 29 December 1912, and travelled approximately 180 kilometres.
  • Western base party's eastern sledge journey returns

    The eastern sledge journey of Wild, Kennedy, Harrisson and Watson return to the western base.
  • Mertz dies on far Eastern journey 1913 – 07 January

    Xavier Mertz dies and Mawson is left alone 160 kilometres from the hut.
  • Southern sledge party returns 1913 – 11 January

    The southern sledge journey of Bage, Webb and Hurley return, having reached their furthest point on 21 December 1912 and travelling approximately 970 kilometres.
  • Aurora arrives at Cape Denison

    The Aurora arrives at Cape Denison to relieve the expedition.
  • Mawson falls into crevasse

    On his solo return journey, Mawson falls into a deep crevasse and manages to haul himself out after seven attempts. Mawson falls into crevasse 1913 – 17 January
  • Return of western base party's western sledge journey

    The western base party's western sledge journey of Jones, Dovers and Hoadley returns.
  • Second Antarctic cruise arrives at Cape Denison

    The second Antarctic cruise - Aurora arrives at Cape Denison
  • Mawson returns alone from the far East sledge journey

    Douglas Mawson returns from the fatal far East sledge journey, having lost Ninnis (UK) and Mertz (Switzerland). The expedition reached its furthest point on 14 December 1912, and travelled a total of approximately 960 kilometres.
  • Second Antarctic cruise departs Cape Denison for the western base

    The second Antarctic cruise, aboard the Aurora, departs Cape Denison for the western base.
  • Aurora is forced by bad weather to abandon Mawson at Cape Denison

    Aurora is called back via radio to collect Mawson and the rescue party, however it is forced by bad weather to abandon the attempt, so the ship can relieve Wild's western party before the sea freezes, forcing Mawson, and a party of six to spend another year at Cape Denison.
  • Naming of King George Land and first radio transmission to Australia from Antarctica

    By wireless telegraphy from Cape Denison, a message was sent through Lord Denman (Governor General) requesting permission to designate this new territory, ‘King George Land.’ A reply was received six days later granting the request.
  • Second Antarctic cruise arrives at western base

    The second Antarctic cruise arrives at the western base and ties up to the wall of the Shackleton Ice Shelf.
  • Second Antarctic cruise departs western base

    Second Antarctic cruise departs western base
    The second Antarctic cruise departs the western base with the western base party on board the Aurora.
  • Second Antarctic cruise arrives in Hobart

    The second Antarctic cruise on Aurora arrives safely back in Hobart and is laid up for the winter.
  • "Home of the Blizzard" film released in Sydney

    "Home of the Blizzard" (neither Mawson nor Hurley ever used this title), the documentary film of the AAE recorded by photographer Frank Hurley, is released in Sydney.
  • Third Antarctic voyage departs Hobart

    The third Antarctic voyage aboard Aurora, departs Queen's Pier, Hobart, for Macquarie Island and Cape Denison.
  • Third Antarctic voyage arrives at Macquarie Island

    The third Antarctic voyage, aboard Aurora, drops anchor in 12 fathoms in Hasselborough Bay, Macquarie Island.
  • Third Antarctic voyage departs Macquarie Island

    The third Antarctic voyage departs Macquarie Island and heads for Cape Denison, Antarctica.
  • Third Antarctic voyage departs Macquarie Island

    The third Antarctic voyage departs Macquarie Island and heads for Cape Denison, Antarctica.
  • The third Antarctic voyage arrives at Cape Denison

    The third Antarctic voyage, aboard Aurora, arrives back in Commonwealth Bay, almost two years after its first voyage of the expedition, to take on board Mawson and others in the 1913 Cape Denison party.
  • Third Antarctic voyage arrives in Adelaide

    The third Antarctic voyage returns to Adelaide and Mawson and his party are greeted with a heroes' welcome.