Communications, photography and film

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.

When expeditioners were left on the ice in the late 1800s and early 1900s, they became truly isolated from the outside world. The next news in and out would be brought only by the ship returning to collect them a whole year later. Family events, brewing war, the sinking of the Titanic, and even the first human to reach the South Pole may have been  ‘old’ news for those at home by the time the expeditioners learned of these events.

Mawson’s efforts at establishing communications through a radio relay station at Macquarie Island had limited success in his first year of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition, but bore fruit in the second year he remained at Commonwealth Bay.

Technology has evolved and expeditioners today enjoy telephone and email access with their family and friends in Australia. The Antarctic Division has even hosted live video links between stations and schools across Australia.

The incredible value of film and photography was recognised by pioneering expedition leaders and Australia’s Frank Hurley produced spectacular images of the landscape and the life from several expeditions.

As media and communication technology advances, the Australian Antarctic Division’s Multimedia and Image Library continues to collect, archive and exhibit pictures, films, broadcasts and communications from Antarctica over many decades.  The legacy is a glorious chronology of Australian endeavours down south.