Communications

Two expeditioners talk into hand-held radios.
Expeditioners testing out the comms equipment (Photo: Gary Bolitho)
Grainy black and white photo of old radio equipmentRoom full of large computers and radio equipment.Black and white photo of Hurley wearing skis and leaning over his cinecamera with an large seal lying right next to himExpeditioner looks through a huge lens.

Although difficult to imagine today, early Antarctic explorers were truly isolated from the outside world. At the turn of the twentieth century, expeditioners would receive news only when their ship returned – often more than a year later. By the time expeditioners learned of family matters and dramatic world-wide events such as the outbreak of war, it would have been ‘old news' for those at home.

The story of Australian communications in Antarctica is a fascinating one of technological developments, human ingenuity, and dogged determination.

In 1912, Australia pioneered the first radio communications in Antarctica at the Commonwealth Bay base via a relay station at sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island. For the first time, expeditioners were not cut off from the world; instead receiving regular news, and sending official and personal messages back home.

Expeditioners today enjoy regular telephone and email access with family and friends to keep in touch. Satellite technology also allows the Australian Antarctic Division to regularly host video links between stations and schools across Australia to share live Antarctic experiences.