Banging the drums

While Mawson was busy in England the AAAS Committee sent a deputation to the minister for external affairs and the acting prime minister, William Hughes, who helped arrange a meeting in London between Mawson and the Australian prime minister, Andrew Fisher. In a new press campaign, the committee appealed for public support for a national expedition to explore ‘that part of the Antarctic continent which belongs geographically to Australia’.

Back in Australia in July 1911, Mawson worked frantically to obtain funding while also organising stores, equipment and staff for the expedition. ‘Time was drawing on,’ he wrote, ‘and the funds of the Expedition were wholly inadequate to the needs of the moment.’

That was, until repeated appeals to the government of Mawson’s home state, South Australia, brought the astonishing donation of £5000. The government’s generosity, wrote Mawson, ‘paved the way to greater things’. In Sydney, David secured a pledge of £7000 from the New South Wales government. The state of Victoria came good with £6000, and the government of Tasmania gave £500.