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Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration

Antarctica, the southernmost continent and site of the South Pole, is a virtually uninhabited, ice-covered landmass. Surrounded by the Southern Ocean, it is bigger than Europe and almost double the size of Australia. The name ‘Antarctica’ comes from a Greek word meaning ‘opposite to the north’.  Due to it’s remoteness and the extreme temperatures, Antarctica became one of the last great wildernesses to be explored.

As explained by Stephen Scott-Fawcett, the phrase ‘Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration’ was first coined by Rev J. Gordon Hayes in his book, The Conquest of the South Pole (1932). It referred to a period of exploration from 1906 to 1931. Today, most polar historians adopting the phrase would extend the ‘Heroic Age’ back to 1895 when the 6th International Geographical Congress declared the exploration of the Antarctic Regions, ‘the greatest piece of geographical exploration still to be undertaken’ and end it in 1922 at the conclusion of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Quest Expedition.

The Heroic Age of Polar Exploration is a period in history that Baz is extremely passionate about and the explorers from that era are hugely respected by him. To travel to the ends of the earth to discover new things in the most inhospitable part of the planet took true grit, determination and courage. The learning and mistakes made helped provide the springboard for modern explorers such as Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Tim Jarvis, Hannah McKeand and Felicity Aston to reach new goals on the Continent.

Adrien de Gerlache (1897-99)

Born: 2 August 1866 - Died: 4 December 1934 (aged 68) - Country of Origin: Belgium Born in Hasselt, Belgium, de Gerlache was educated in Brussels. From a young age he was deeply attracted by the sea and made three voyages in 1883 and 1884 to the United States as a cabin boy on an ocean liner. He studied Engineering at the...
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Carsten Borchgrevink (1898-1900)

Born: 1 December 1864 - Died: 21 April 1934 (aged 69) - Country of Origin: Norway Carsten Borchgrevink was born in Oslo, the son of a Norwegian lawyer, Henrik Christian Borchgrevink, and an English mother Annie, née Ridley. The family lived in the Uranienborg neighbourhood, where Roald Amundsen, an occasional childhood playmate, also grew up. Borchgrevink was educated at Gjertsen College, Oslo,...
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Erich von Drygalski (1901-03)

Born: 9 February 1865 - Died: 10 January 1949 - Country of Origin: Germany Erich Dagobert von Drygalski was a German geographer, geophysicist and polar scientist, born in Königsberg, Province of Prussia. Between 1882 and 1887, Drygalski studied mathematics and natural science at the University of Königsberg, Bonn, Berlin and Leipzig. He graduated with a doctorate thesis about ice shields in Nordic...
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Nils Otto GustavNordenskjold

Born: 6 December 1869 - Died: 2 June 1928 - Country of Origin: Finland/Sweden Nordenskjöld was born in Hässleby in Småland in eastern Sweden, in a Finland Swedish family that included his maternal uncle, polar explorer Adolf Erik Nordenskiöld, and cousin Gustaf Nordenskiöld. His father and mother were cousins, but his father's family name was "Nordenskjöld", while his mother's family name was...
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Robert Falcon Scott

Born: 6 June 1868 - Died: 29 March 1912 - Country of Origin: England Captain Robert Falcon Scott, CVO, RN was a British Royal Navy officer and explorer who led two expeditions to the Antarctic regions: the Discovery Expedition, 1901–1904, and the ill-fated Terra Nova Expedition, 1910–1913. On the first expedition, he set a new southern record by marching to latitude 82°S...
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William Spiers Bruce

Born: 1 August 1867 - Died: 28 October 1921 - Country of Origin: England William Speirs Bruce FRSE was a Scottish naturalist, polar scientist and oceanographer who organised and led the Scottish National Antarctic Expedition (SNAE, 1902–04) to the South Orkney Islands and the Weddell Sea. Among other achievements, the expedition established the first permanent weather station in Antarctica. Bruce later founded...
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Ernest Henry Shackleton

Born: 15 February 1874 - Died: 5 January 1922 - Country of Origin: Ireland Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton CVO OBE FRGS was a polar explorer who led three British expeditions to the Antarctic, and one of the principal figures of the period known as the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration. Born in Kilkea, Athy, County Kildare, Ireland, Shackleton and his Anglo-Irish family...
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Roald Amundsen

Born: 16 July 1872 - Disappeared: 18 June 1928 - Country of Origin: Norway Amundsen was born to a family of Norwegian shipowners and captains in Borge, between the towns Fredrikstad and Sarpsborg. His parents were Jens Amundsen and Hanna Sahlqvist. Roald was the fourth son in the family. His mother wanted him to avoid the family maritime trade and encouraged him...
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Douglas Mawson

Born: 5 May 1882 - Died: 14 October 1958 - Country of Origin: Australia Mawson was born on 5 May 1882 to Robert Ellis Mawson and Margaret Ann Moore. He was born in Shipley, West Yorkshire, but was only two years old when his family immigrated to Australia and settled at Rooty Hill, now in the western suburbs of Sydney. He attended...
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