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Australia 1885 – 1962

The banded face of the Shackleton ice shelf taken north of the West Base locality c.1913 Description: W 168
Materials & Technique: photographs, carbon photograph

Dimensions: printed image 46.5 h x 60.0 w cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1992
Accession No: NGA 92.1383

After wintering at Cape Denison at the end of 1912, parties set off from base to explore the mainland. Hurley accompanied Lieut. Robert Bage, Astronomer, Assistant Magnetician and Recorder of Tides and Eric N. Webb, Chief Magnetician, on a 960 kilometre sledging journey to within eighty kilometres of the magnetic South Pole. After missing a food depot they just managed to return to base. Mawson, with Dr Xavier Mertz and Lieut. Belgrave E.S. Ninnis, both men in charge of the Greenland dogs, set off to explore along the coast to the east. Ninnis, one of the dog teams and a sledge laden with supplies were lost down a crevasse and Mertz succumbed to exposure, starvation and exhaustion, leaving Mawson to fight his way back to base alone. Mawson and six men were left in the Antarctic for another winter, Hurley being part of the retrieval party in November 1913. Photographed by Hurley from the Aurora on his return journey from Antarctica in early 1913, this iceberg was one of thousands they encountered. The 195-kilometre high Shackleton Ice Shelf was 160 kilometres north of the mainland. Each strongly marked horizontal band on the sheer wall represents a year’s snowfall.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra