Early 20th Century Antarctica Expedition Photographs


In honor of Earth Day, peek at these amazing photographs taken by James Francis Hurley and fellow rough-faced, frost-bitten explorers of the Antarctic unknown (spotted by Brain Pickings) during the First Australasian Antarctic Expedition of 1911-1914! See the curious armies of penguins swarm around a shipwreck and voraciously net macro-plankton from the deck of the Aurora ocean vessel! Feel the adventure! Brrr.

So, the “Astronomic Observatory” looks like a part of a post-apocalyptic fantasy set and sympathy really begins to kick in when you see these pioneering scientists as encrusted in snow as the local animal life. Yet, under the leadership of Dr. Douglas Mawson, they soldiered on, called dibs on what would eventually become the Australian Antarctic Territory in 1936 and brought back incredible visual artifacts, despite the limitations of early technical photography equipment and, you know, the cold.

Wreck of the Gratitude at Macquarie Island 1911

Aurora traversing loose pack ice entering the Durville Sea, December 1913.

Huskies pulling sledge

Ice mask, CT Madigan between 1911-1914

Frozen Adelie, Antarctica, 1911-1914

Skeleton of sea-elephant & Harold Hamilton

Bage in the entrance to the Astronomic Observatory, Antarctica, 1911-1914

Blizzard, the pup in Antarctica

Hamilton hand-netting for macro-plankton from Aurora.

Ice cased Adelie penguins after a blizzard at Cape Denison

Female sea-elephant, Macquarie island, Antarctica, 1911-1914

Wild & Watson in sleeping bag tent on sledge journey