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Mertz in Hobart: impressions of one of Mawson’s men while preparing for Antarctic adventure

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Lucas, A (2012) Mertz in Hobart: impressions of one of Mawson’s men while preparing for Antarctic adventure. Papers and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania, 146. pp. 37-44. ISSN 0080-4703

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Abstract

The story of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition (AAE) 1911–1914 has often been told in many publications which also refer to the
drama of the Far-Eastern Sledging Journey from which Mawson trudged back to base, arriving in a desperate condition after both his
companions, Xavier Mertz and Belgrave Ninnis, had died. Sir Douglas Mawson’s career is well documented but we know less about his
team of men and their work. What do we know of Mertz? The literature repeatedly notes that he was Swiss, held a doctorate in law, was
a ski champion, looked after the expedition’s dogs and died, mysteriously, on that Far-Eastern Sledging Journey. Details of his death have
stimulated much discussion. But what of his life? Born in Basel in1882, he was six months younger than Mawson. With Ninnis he sailed
from London on the AAE’s S.Y. Aurora and spent November 1911 in Hobart as the team made final preparations for their Antarctic
expedition. This paper focuses on that month of new experiences for the Swiss member of Mawson’s team, his impressions of Hobart, the
city’s response to Antarctic explorers, what has changed and what remains as it was then.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Royal Society of Tasmania, RST, Van Diemens Land, natural history, science, ecology, taxonomy, botany, zoology, geology, geography, papers & proceedings, Australia, Antarctic, dogs, expedition, Hobart, Mawson, Mertz, quarantine, Switzerland, wharf
Journal or Publication Title: Papers and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania
Page Range: pp. 37-44
ISSN: 0080-4703
Copyright Information:

Copyright The Royal Society of Tasmania

Collections: Royal Society Collection > Papers & Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania
Date Deposited: 23 Jun 2015 22:16
Last Modified: 23 Jun 2015 22:16
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