If you’ve been clicking on this blog for a while, you might have seen me gushing about my love for the Antarctic, and all explorer type things related to it (see here, here, here, and here). So I was REALLY REALLY EXCITED when I saw news of an exhibition at the National Maritime Museum here in Sydney, which was to be all about Sir Ernest Shackleton, and his ill-fated Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1914-1917. I won’t go into too much detail about it here, otherwise I’ll never get this post finished, but the long and the short of it is that the expedition was a complete disaster. The ship was caught in the ice and eventually crushed to pieces, and the men of the expedition were forced to live on the ice for months until it began to break up and they could attempt an escape. Eventually the crew made it to a small island, and from there Shackleton and five of the crew members sailed 800 miles (1,300 km) in one of the ship’s lifeboats to the island of South Georgia. Then a crossing of the island was undertaken in order to reach the populated area of the island (the men had no proper climbing equipment and very little food by this point). Shackleton and his men crossed 40km of mountainous terrain in a mere 36 hours. To put that into perspective, in 2013 a recreation of the South Georgia trek was done, and it took those men 96 hours.
I know that I haven’t conveyed the heroics enough, so you should check out the Wikipedia page about the expedition here (I’ve read enough about the expedition to know that this page is pretty accurate). It will blow your mind and you’ll be in amazement at the courage and endurance of these men. Physical feats today definitely pale in comparison (in my opinion).
So anyway, last weekend I went to the exhibition. It was pretty awesome. There was all sorts of little knick-knacks and gadgets that were used in Antarctic exploration in the early 1900’s, including a reindeer sleeping bag, compasses, and even a display of a dog sled team. My favourite thing though was the ‘Still Life’ room. In here was a short video presentation (I think about 5-10 minutes) of photographs taken by the official expedition photographer, Frank Hurley. The photos are displayed on three walls of a darkened room, and are just the most incredible photographs you’ll see (you can also get a book of the photographs in the gift shop [which of course I did]).
I would highly recommend checking it out if you’re in Sydney. The exhibition is running until 6th April 2016 – you can get all the details at the National Maritime Museum website. The exhibition itself isn’t huge, but there’s some other cool stuff in the museum to check out as well.
And now, here are a few photos I took myself. I started my day with lunch at Circular Quay, then walked the long way around to Darling Harbour where the museum is, so I’ve included a couple of photos from my wandering as well.