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Traversing Antarctica: the Australian experience on view at the Western Australian Museum
Ceremony on Proclamation Island, 13 January 1930. Photographer Frank Hurley National Archives of Australia.

PERTH.- 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.

A rare collection of artefacts from the expedition is on display at the Western Australian Maritime Museum as part of Traversing Antarctica: the Australian experience, a national travelling exhibition celebrating Australia’s connection with the icy continent.

WA Museum Chief Executive Officer Alec Coles said the exhibition creates a landscape for visitors and highlights Australia’s achievements in Antarctica from Mawson to modern day.

“Antarctica is a significant place of cultural, historical and scientific value to Australians.

“The achievements of Mawson and his team pioneered a new era in Antarctic exploration. What they were able to achieve in such a hostile environment, in a time where technology wasn’t as it is today, is remarkable,” Mr Coles 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, as well as letters and diaries kept by Mawson and his team.

“In addition to examining Australia’s historical relationship with Antarctica, Traversing Antarctica features the scientific contributions in areas such as oceanography and the study of ice as well as highlighting the enormous challenges faced by those living in Antarctica,” Mr Coles said.

Visitors to the exhibition will experience life in the land of ice and blizzards via a live webcam set up at Davis Station and interactive time-lapse photographs of the awe-inspiring Aurora Australis. The exhibition also includes hands-on activities for children.

‘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, and is on display at the Western Australian Maritime Museum, Fremantle from November 3, 2012 until February 24, 2013.

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