NotesMawson's expedition left Hobart on board the sailing ship "Aurora" on 2 December 1911. The ship was packed with supplies. The sledges were lashed to the ship's chart-house, an extension of the bridge, and on the poop deck. A research station was established in Antarctica at Cape Denison on Commonwealth Bay and the stores were taken by sledge to the hut built by the 18 expeditioners during January 1912. The climate proved to be one continuous blizzard all year round, and the onset of wintry weather saw the men inside the hut adapting their sledging gear and instruments to the severe conditions. Canvas sledging harnesses were made for both men and dogs, and these were attached to the sledges by hauling ropes.
Some short sledging trips were initially made and in November 1912 the exploratory work began in earnest with six sledging parties organised, with three men in each party, to undertake mapping and magnetic observations. The sledging parties took three sledges each, and Mawson noted in his book "The Home of the Blizzard" that his party's sledges comprised a principal sledge of 11 foot (3.35 m) length with an instrument box, cooker-box, kerosene tray, mast attachment, mast (for a sail), spar, rigging, leather straps, and a decking of canvas and bamboo. A second sledge was of a similar length decked with Venestra (trade name for a form of plywood) boarding and fitted with straps, while the third was 12 feet (3.66 m) long with strong rope lashing and spare spars acting as decking.
Each of the sledging parties had similar equipment loaded onto the three sledges, included: a Willesden-drill tent; three one-man reindeer fur sleeping bags; cooking equipment including mugs, spoons, scales, matches and fuel; a repair outfit with spare copper wire, needles and thread to repair the harnesses, tents and clothes; a medical kit with bandages, ophthalmic drugs for treating snow blindness, scissors, forceps, scalpel and surgical needles; photographic equipment with a quarter-plate camera; and surveying equipment including a 3-inch transit theodolite, logarithmic tables, note books, maps, dividers, set squares, prismatic compass and clinometer. Other equipment taken included: binoculars, a hypsometer (for determining altitude), thermometers and specimen labels; "sporting" equipment including a 22-bore rifle, ammunition, knife, sharpening stone and fishing line; a waterproof clothes bag with reindeer skin boots (finnesko) stuffed with moisture-absorbent sennaegrass (a dry grass from Lappland) and spare clothing; a pick, spades, skis and boots, crampons, man harnesses and tow ropes. To set up depots they carried a depot flag and bamboo pole, stays, and damp-proof tins to deposit records at depots. A total of six one-gallon (4.55 litre) tins of kerosene fuel, nine weeks' supply of food for the men, and dried seal meat, blubber and pemmican for the dogs, were also packed. The total weight of the three laden sledges was 1,723 pounds (781 kg).
Several years after the conclusion of the 1911-14 Mawson expedition the Australian Museum in Sydney was given a collection of material including sledges and six boxes containing ice picks, crampons and clothing. It is believed that this material came from the Commonwealth Government. The material remained in storage there and in 1964 the Deputy Director, H.O. Fletcher, felt it should be given to a museum or society where it could be properly used and exhibited. He contacted both the newly-established Mawson Institute at the University of Adelaide in South Australia and the Antarctic Division of the Commonwealth Department of Internal Affairs, then based in Melbourne. Both institutions declined to acquire the material, so Fletcher contacted the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (the paretn institution of the Powerhouse Museum) which agreed to take three sledges. Three years later, in 1967, the Australian Museum again approached the Mawson Institute to offer the rest of the equipment.
This sledge was formerly transferred from the Australian Museum to this Museum in 1967. In 1983 comprehensive conservation work, and some restoration work, was undertaken by the Museum to repair the sledge.
UsedMawson, Douglas 1911-1914