Home > 2014 Courses > HISTORY, PHILOSOPHY AND CONTEMPORARY STUDIES > The centenary of Shackleton's Endurance expedition


Dr Sydney Cullis, semi-retired surgeon and Antarctic history enthusiast

This year marks the centenary of the departure of Ernest Shackleton’s Imperial TransAntarctic Expedition, an attempt to be the first to cross the continent, from the Weddell to the Ross Sea. This two-lecture course will retell the dramatic story of how Endurance became trapped in the packice, was crushed and sank. It will trace the experience of Shackleton and his party who camped on the ice for six months before they were forced into their lifeboats and, after a short but hazardous voyage, reached Elephant Island. Here Shackleton realised that their only hope of rescue lay with the Norwegian whalers on the island of South Georgia, 1 500 kilometres to the east. By an amazing feat of navigation, seamanship and endurance they reached South Georgia – but the uninhabited west coast. Shackleton and two others then crossed the unclimbed spine of the island to reach the whaling station at Stromness, from which it took four attempts before he was able to rescue those who had been stranded on Elephant Island. The course will also describe the less well-known saga of the Ross Sea Party, whose task it was to establish depots on the opposite side of the continent for Shackleton to use after reaching the South Pole, and will highlight the South African connections of the members of the expedition – Reginald James, Frank Wild, Ernest Joyce and others.

1.    The Endurance: Shackleton’s other ‘glorious failure’
2.    The South African connections


Course code: 1022

Date & time: Thursday 23–Friday 24 January 3.30 pm


Full: R150,00

Staff: R75,00

Reduced: R37,00