Australian Polar Collection

Family in Mawson Gallery

The Mawson Gallery focuses on the achievements of Sir Douglas Mawson, a remarkable man who was also Chair of the South Australian Museum Board from 1951–1958.

Sir Douglas was a man of great vision and determination, responsible for a legacy of scientific knowledge of the Antarctic region. The gallery uses artefacts and specimens — many of which were Mawson’s personal belongings, including his sled, scientific tools, boots, camel-hair sleeping bag, mittens and balaclavas — to give some insight into his achievements. There are also letters, papers, photographs and a model of the hut where he and his team lived.

Mawson’s half sledge and knife which are on display in the gallery were included in the BankSA Heritage Icons list in 2005. Following the death of his two companions during a surveying expedition in 1912 and finding himself in a seriously depleted physical state, Mawson used the knife to saw his sledge in half  to lighten his load. He then dragged the sled with geological specimens but minimal food 160 km back to the base at Cape Denison.

More about Mawson's life, research and achievements can be seen in the Science Centre.