Douglas Mawson – The Survivor

Front cover of Douglas Mawson book

             Douglas Mawson: The Survivor

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Douglas Mawson was Australia’s greatest Antarctic explorer. Virtually alone among his contemporaries, he saw the strategic importance of the Antarctic continent to Australia, and its potential marine and mineral wealth. He was not interested in racing to the pole like Amundsen and Scott – he wanted to chart, measure and record. His explorations were to lay the foundations for Australia’s current claim to forty percent of the continent.

In 1912 he set off on a dog sledge journey with two companions. One fell down a crevasse with most of the supplies, and the other slowly died of Vitamin A poisoning. Mawson surmounted inhuman odds to fight his way back to Cape Denison alone. After thirty-one days of tortured travel he came to within sight of the base just in time to see the relief ship that had come to pick up his party disappearing over the horizon. 

His tale of courage and endurance was to make him a public hero. He survived and returned to the Antarctic in 1929 and again in 1931. He became Professor of Geology at the University of Adelaide.

One hundred years after his epic journey, filmmakers David Parer & Elizabeth Cook travelled to Antarctica to reconstruct the fateful sledging journey for a television documentary. The film was produced by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Natural History Unit and went on to win the Grand Prix at the Melbourne Film Festival in 1983. This book presents the essence of the Mawson story as it was told in the film and includes rare black and white archival images from Mawson’s life, colour images from the reconstruction of his journey and selected frames from the actual film.

Published by Alella Books in 1983, in association with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Hardcover, 160 pages, Black and White with 13 colour plates, map, index and bibliography. ISBN 0 949681 01 6

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