The Aurora Expedition
1911 – 1914
Douglas Mawson was a scientist, interested in scientific discovery and exploration. He was never interested in taking part in the race to the pole, having already refused a place on Captain Scott’s Terra Nova expedition. On Ernest Shackleton’s Nimrod expedition Mawson was part of the first team of men to reach the Magnetic South Pole. Mawson’s Australasian Antarctic expedition would be the largest exploration of the Antarctic continent so far.
The Aurora carried 31 men to Antarctica. Five men were left to set up a communication base on Macquarie Island, making them the first exploration team on Antarctica to have radio contact with the rest of the world.
After leaving Macquarie Island, the ship couldn’t land as planned and was forced to head west along the coast. Eventually they docked in a small inlet they named Commonwealth Bay. This bay is now known to have the fiercest, most continuous winds of any place in the world at sea level. The team’s scientific efforts were hampered by almost constant 60 mile-per-hour winds. The men would winter in Antarctica, undertaking the larger expeditions the following year.