The AAE of 1911
The SY Aurora, under the command of John King Davis, and laden with all the supplies and animals needed for the science and
exploration teams on both Macquarie Island and Cape Denison, sailed away down the Derwent river in Hobart,
Tasmania, on December 2nd 1911.
Bound first for Macquarie Island, the strong and sturdy wooden ship originally built for seal
hunting ploughed its way through the gales and rough seas of the ferocious Southern Ocean.
It took nine days to reach Macquarie Island, where the construction of the base
and radio communication antenna proceeded, a dress rehearsal for the base and antenna at
what would be Cape Denison.
Turning to the South and to Antarctica, the Aurora continued in now calmer seas, reaching extensive
pack ice and huge icebergs. Four weeks after leaving Hobart, the Antarctic ice cap was sighted.
Mawson was concerned that this pack ice and the steep ice cliffs would prevent the
landing of the expedition, until he spotted the rocky cape and glided into Commonwealth Bay, where abundant wildlife (penguins and seals) and the rocky islands drew
Mawson to launch a whaleboat to investigate the area.
Liking what he saw, they began unloading the 23 tonnes of
coal and other fuels, 2 years of food supplies, tools, wireless masts and scientific equipment, the air
tractor and personal effects. Finally, the Aurora was ready to leave the Cape, then to deposit the Western
Party further along the coast before turning back for Hobart.