Sir Douglas Mawson (1882-1958) was a geologist who in 1914 was embarking on a worldwide lecture tour promoting his recent Australian Antarctic Expedition (AAE) of 1911-1913. This first major scientific investigation by Australians beyond their shores had earned him a knighthood in the King’s Birthday Honours list that June. His talks would have been received warmly in Adelaide for he had been a University of Adelaide lecturer since 1905, while there were also several young Adelaide graduates on the team such as Cecil Madigan, Percy Correll, Morton Moyes and Alexander Kennedy. Adelaide audiences paid from 2 to 5 shillings for their seats, with proceeds helping to eliminate the debt of the expedition. Mawson continued his tour in other Australian cities and New Zealand and then back to London via New York.
No doubt Mawson would have thrilled onlookers with his experiences of the frozen south, ‘illuminated by unique colored moving pictures’ as well as an ‘unrivalled series of colored views’. Mentioned in several newspaper reports was the extraordinary story of his survival after sledging alone across the ice for a month after losing first one dog handler, Ninnis down a crevasse and then the second, Mertz from exhaustion.