Australian Antarctic history

First at the South Magnetic Pole - left to right: A Forbes Mackay, T W Edgeworth David, D Mawson
First at the South Magnetic Pole - left to right: A Forbes Mackay, T W Edgeworth David, D Mawson (Photo: Edgeworth David)
Raising the flag at the establishment of Mawson station.Eastern sledging journey: Possession Rocks, Queen Mary Land, 25 December 1912Hobart from the AuroraThe postcard of the Aurora heading down the River Derwent 2 December 1911 with the crated Vickers Air Tractor on the foredeck

The Australian Antarctic Territory (AAT) is the largest territorial claim over the continent and covers much of east Antarctica. The total area is approximately 5,800,000 km² – about the area of Australia excluding Queensland.

It consists of all islands and territories south of 60°S between 45°E and 160°E, excluding the French sector of Terre Adélie, which comprises the islands and territories south of 60°S and between longitudes 136°E and 142°E.

The Australian claim is based on discovery and a long historical association with this part of Antarctica. The first Australians in Antarctica demonstrated endurance in establishing a connection with the continent and commitment to science and innovation by dedicated scientists and explorers. Those such as Douglas Mawson, John King Davis, Hubert Wilkins, John Rymill and Phillip Garth Law saw the potential for Antarctica's scientific wealth and showed conviction in pursuing it.

Australia is among seven nations which have claimed territory in Antarctica. The other claimant nations are Argentina, Chile, France, New Zealand, Norway and the United Kingdom.

The film footage below was taken by Frank Hurley on the 1911-1914 Australasian Antarctic Expedition led by Douglas Mawson and includes images of the expedition departing Hobart and the installation of the radio mast on Macquarie Island, a critical communication link between Antarctica and Australia.