Cultural heritage at Mawson

Black and white image from 1954 showing a group of men next to a flag pole with old Australian flag and low structure
Raising the flag at the establishment of Mawson station, 1954.
Sleeping cubicle, Biscoe hut 1954

Mawson lies on the rocky shore of Horseshoe Harbour, 5,462 kilometres southwest of Hobart.

The history of Mawson, the longest continuously occupied station on the continent south of the Antarctic Circle, began with the establishment of the station on 13 February 1954. Mawson station was established using barge caravans and post-tension buildings. Later, several buildings were relocated from Heard Island including:

  • the seismology hut and meteorological hut, both known as ANARE Mark 1 (constructed 1950)
  • the balloon hut (constructed 1951)
  • the absolute magnetic hut (constructed 1951)
  • the magnetic variometer hut (constructed 1951).

Over the years, Mawson provided ANARE with an excellent launching point for traverses to explore the coast and hinterland. From the 1950s, amphibious aircraft were used by ANARE supported by the Australian Army. Royal Australian Air Force pilots and engineers were stationed at Mawson from 1956 to 1960. RAAF pilots made regular flights to undertake aerial surveys, support remote field parties, and provide an air link with Davis.

Traverse parties venturing out from Mawson station discovered and mapped Enderby Land and the Prince Charles Mountains. They investigated the Amery Ice Shelf, exploring the coast and offshore islands to study the rich bird life. They also traversed the vast basin of the mighty Lambert Glacier, the world's largest.

Since 1961, helicopters have been integral to Mawson operations. Larger helicopters were introduced in 1994 and are used to carry expeditioners and cargo over longer distances such as Mawson to Davis station. 

Mawson station was added to the Register of the National Estate in 2001, and listed on the Commonwealth Heritage List on 22 June 2004.