Image 'Classifying the treasures', 1929-31

TLF ID R2926

This is a black-and-white photograph taken by Frank Hurley of an evening scene in the wardroom of the ship 'Discovery' during the British, Australian and New Zealand Antarctic Research Expedition (BANZARE) to Antarctica, 1929-31. The title typed on its cardboard mount calls the picture 'Classifying the Treasures' and indicates that it shows, from left to right, Mr J W S Marr, Dr W Ingram, Sir Douglas Mawson, the distinguished Antarctic explorer and scientist, and Professor Harvey Johnson classifying biological materials. The photograph measures 61 cm x 49 cm.

Educational details

Educational value
  • This asset is an example of the work of Frank Hurley (1885-1962), official photographer on Douglas Mawson's Australasian Antarctic Expedition (1911-13), Sir Ernest Shackleton's Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition (1914-16), and Mawson's BANZARE of 1929-31; Hurley made six trips to Antarctica, spending four years in all in the region.
  • It was taken during the 1929-31 BANZARE - Mawson undertook two voyages of scientific and geographic research in the 'Discovery' along the Antarctic coastline in the summers of 1929-30 and 1930-31; the first voyage left Cape Town in October 1929 and worked off southern Africa, the Crozet archipelago, Kerguelen and Heard Islands, eastern Antarctica (40-80 degrees E) and south-western Australia; the second voyage left Hobart in November 1930 and worked off southern Tasmania, Macquarie Island, Scott Island in the Ross Sea, eastern Antarctica (60-180 degrees E) and western Tasmania.
  • It illustrates part of an important historic voyage - the British Imperial Conference of 1926 concluded that the entire Antarctic continent should become a possession of Britain, New Zealand and Australia, and in April 1930 on Proclamation Island Mawson claimed Antarctica for England; in 1933 the British Government officially granted Australia title to the Antarctic Territory.
  • It displays some of the specimens that Sir Douglas Mawson and the other scientists brought back from their expeditions ashore; in the picture they are classifying plants, but they would also have collected marine specimens, rock samples and bird specimens, and observed and recorded details of the flora and fauna.
  • It shows the scientists recording and classifying their specimens - the specimens are stored in screwtop jars and some are being pasted onto the pages of a book while the scientists handwrite labels; it is important that scientific specimens are classified and notes recorded as soon as possible after collection.
  • It shows the interior of the expedition's ship 'Discovery' - one of the last of this type of ship built in Britain and the first to be constructed specifically for scientific research, the 'Discovery' was launched in 1901, used in Captain Robert Scott's expedition to Antarctica from 1901 to 1904 and, after a long career as a merchant vessel, lent by the British Government for this expedition.
  • It shows conditions in the wardroom of the 'Discovery' - wood panelling and wooden chairs, a paraffin lamp hanging in the centre with smaller, probably gas, lights ranged around the room; the numbers 1 and 2 on two of the doors suggest that these lead to sleeping cabins; there are winder handles to open ventilation hatches in the ceiling; a curtained cupboard has coats hanging in it and a case on its floor; a white cloth is draped across the table, probably to protect the table and contain the specimens.
  • It demonstrates how the men had personalised the wardroom, which was the heart of their home for long periods of time - on the wall to the left is a photograph of a man and a woman, probably Mawson and his wife Paquita, stuck over a picture in a frame; on the back wall is a more traditional portrait of a naval officer in full uniform.
Year level

6; 7; 8; 9

Learning area
  • Science

Other details

  • Author
  • Person: Frank Hurley
  • Description: Author
  • Contributor
  • Name: National Library of Australia
  • Organization: National Library of Australia
  • Description: Content provider
  • URL:
  • Name: Education Services Australia
  • Organization: Education Services Australia
  • Description: Data manager
  • Person: Frank Hurley
  • Description: Author
  • Copyright Holder
  • Name: National Library of Australia
  • Organization: National Library of Australia
  • Publisher
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organization: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Description: Publisher
  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
  • Resource metadata contributed by
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Address: AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
Access profile
  • Colour independence
  • Device independence
  • Hearing independence
Learning Resource Type
  • Image
  • © Education Services Australia Ltd and National Library of Australia, 2013, except where indicated under Acknowledgments