The 2011–12 Antarctic expedition season marks 100 years of Australian Antarctic Expeditions. Those who journey south that season join a tradition established a century earlier by the first Australasian Antarctic Expedition (AAE) of 1911–14, led by Douglas Mawson.
In the period known as the Heroic Era of Antarctic Exploration (1897–1917), Australians were involved in several expeditions. However, the Mawson-led 1911–14 AAE was the first wholly Australian undertaking. The AAE, together with the 1929–1931 British, Australian and New Zealand Antarctic Research Expedition (BANZARE) (also led by Mawson), was important for establishing Australia’s claim for Antarctic territory. The expedition is also celebrated for its important contribution to science, with many examples of the findings and information gathered still being used today.
The AAE departed Hobart on 2 December 1911, travelling to Macquarie Island and then on to Antarctica, landing at Cape Denison, where the now-called “Mawson’s Huts” were built. The 2012–13 season will mark the centenary of Mawson’s celebrated and ill-fated far Eastern sledging journey. A full timeline of the AAE can be found on this site.