Antarctica: A case study in imperialism

Adelie penguins
Australian Expedition to the Antarctic, Statement to the Parliament by Prime Minister Bruce. NAA: A461, D413/4

With the outbreak of World War I immediately following the 1911–14 Australasian Antarctic Expedition, plans for further Antarctic exploration were postponed. During the 1920s Australia and Britain became aware that several countries, including Norway and France, were intending to stake territorial claims in Antarctica. This led to increased pressure to mount a further expedition to establish territorial claims in the region and explore the economic potential of Antarctica.

Get thinking

  • What did Prime Minister Bruce and his government hope to achieve for Australia by sending the 1929 expedition to Antarctica?
  • To what extent do you believe that the desire to extend Australian territorial claims in Antarctica was the result of Britain's influence?
  • How significant was Sir Douglas Mawson to the success of the British Australian New Zealand Research Expeditions (BANZARE) between 1929 and 1931?

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