Antarctic Pioneers


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1963, 28 Minutes. Exempt from classification.

One of Australia's most famous photographers and explorers, Frank Hurley, presents this absorbing film on the history of Australia's first expeditions to the Antarctic continent between 1911 and 1954.

In the summer of 1911, a group of pioneers set off from Hobart on the tall ship Aurora to an unknown land. Their send-off was captured by Hurley in remarkable, archival footage. Buffeted by blizzards, and with the ever-present threat of crevasses, they made Cape Dennison in Commonwealth Bay their base for one year. Hurley describes his subsequent expeditions to the region with Shackleton, Wilkins and Campbell. Campbell’s expedition in 1947 saw the establishment of scientific stations at Heard and Macquarie Islands.

In 1954, Hurley joined the expedition led by Phillip Law on the Danish ice-breaker, the Kista Dan. Hurley's original footage shows the ship edging its way across the pack ice to the safety of the harbour where the first permanent Australian post in the Antarctic, Mawson Station was established.

A rare film which reveals the true hardship and courage of these early pioneers.

An Australian National Film Board Production. Produced by the Australian Commonwealth Film Unit with the co-operation of the Australian National Antarctic Research Expedition. © 2011 National Film and Sound Archive of Australia.


Directors: Frank Hurley & Phillip Law

Year: 1963

Running Time: 28 mins

Classification: Exempt from classification

Curriculum Links: Australian History; Geography; Marine and Antarctic Studies; Studies of Society and Environment (SOSE); HSIE.


Mawson – Life and Death in Antarctica

Blue Ice

Antarctica 1948



SKU 000151600
Brand Film Australia

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