Between 2008 and 2013 the Royal Australian Mint produced a series of one dollar coins that commemorated the contributions
made by a number of inspirational Australians. This piece celebrates the life and work of explorer and academic Sir Douglas
Born in England in 1882, Douglas Mawson immigrated to Australia with his family while only an infant. Mawson studied mining engineering and geology before being appointed as a lecturer at the University of Adelaide. While working in Adelaide Ernest Shackleton, leader of the British Antarctic Expedition, passed through and Mawson approached him with the desire to join the Nimrod Expedition. Shackleton appointed Mawson as physicist for the successful expedition which produced substantial scientific observations.
In 1911 Mawson led the Australasian Antarctic Expedition which focused on charting the Antarctic coastline and collecting geological and biological samples. The expedition groups were broken up into sledging teams with Mawson serving in the Far Eastern Party with Xavier Mertz and Lieutenant Ninnis. After excellent initial progress, Ninnis fell through a hidden crevasse along with most of the group's rations. Mertz and Mawson turned back immediately and were forced to begin eating their sled dogs to survive. They were unaware that the livers of dogs contain large quantities of Vitamin A, enough to cause the condition Hypervitaminosis A. Mertz's physical and mental condition deteriorated and upon his death, Mawson was forced to continue alone. After making it back to the safely to base-camp he was greeted by a small party and was informed that the ship, the Aurora, had left just hours before. Mawson was forced to remain in Antarctica for an unplanned second year until the ship could return. (F. J. Jacka, 1986)
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