Australia and Antarctica

In their own words

In the summer of 1908–09 when sledging from the Ross Sea north-west towards the Magnetic Pole across the plateau of South Victoria Land, one felt a great urge to go on and discover the limits of Antarctic land in that direction. The broader features of the Ross Sea region were then known but concerning a vast area to the west thereof little information was available. Of the extended region due south of Australia, landfalls had been vaguely recorded, but in one place only, Adelie Land, was there on record convincing evidence of terra firma.

Late in 1909 I proceeded to London to urge upon Captain RF Scott the importance of investigating the region to the west of Cape Adare. Scott was then organizing his British Antarctic Expedition of 1910–14, with the object of penetrating to the South Geographic Pole and further exploring the lands bordering the Southern Ross Sea. However, Captain Scott’s plans were too far advanced to allow of modification of his program and I had to find other means of participating in the unveiling of that section of Antarctica, adjacent to Australia. Shackleton then offered support in the achievement of my object. Having finalized plans for the undertaking, I proceeded to America to discuss my proposals with Shackleton, meeting him in Omaha in May, 1910. He was so impressed with the merits of the project that he offered to assume the responsibility of financing the enterprise on the understanding that he should command it, with myself as chief of scientific staff. With some reluctance I agreed to this proposal for it left me free to concentrate on the scientific program. However, this arrangement was short-lived, for other interests developed which demanded Shackleton’s attention in England.

Thus it was that after discussing all-important matter of finance with Mr. Robert Barr Smith and other influential Australians, I placed before the Australasian Association for the Advancement of Science, the plans for an Australasian Antarctic Expedition. That was at the Sydney meeting in January, 1911. Thanks especially to the support of the President, Professor David Orme Masson, and to Professor GC Henderson, President of the geographical section, and to the advocacy of my old Antarctic colleague, Professor TW Edgeworth David, I was accorded a good hearing and promised substantial financial support. Several committees were appointed to assist where necessary in arrangements for certain sections of the scientific program.

— Douglas Mawson, AAE Scientific Report Series A Vol I