Antarctica's cultural heritage

Human history in Antarctica has been rich and colourful, although relatively short. Captain Cook was the first to approach the continent in 1772, but it was over a hundred years before the first group intentionally overwintered at Cape Adare in 1899.

Bauer (the Macquarie Island Headsman) pointing out the best anchorage at Macquarie Island
Bauer (the Macquarie Island Headsman) pointing out the best anchorage at Macquarie Island
Photo: Frank Hurley
Macquarie Island Shipping Station, 1911, sealers movingbarrels of penguin oil.
Macquarie Island Shipping Station, 1911, sealers moving barrels of penguin oil.
Photo: AAD
The Macquarie Island Wireless Station - Operating and Engine Houses
The Macquarie Island Wireless Station - Operating and Engine Houses
Photo: Leslie Blake
Its legacy includes portable artefacts, buildings, sites, monuments and shipwrecks; documentary evidence such as letters, diaries and administrative documents; oral and written histories. All provide us with a context in which to understand stories of human interaction with the environment and with each other, of great achievements and disappointments.

In short, the discovery and understanding of our Antarctic cultural heritage provides us with the fabric and context in which to understand how people have survived and worked in Antarctica.

The AAD has a commitment to conserve and manage our cultural heritage places and artefacts in the subantarctic and Antarctic regions. We take a multi-disciplinary approach in order to understand the issues and develop appropriate conservation measures, including input from historians, archaeologists, scientists and other specialists in the conservation of different materials. Some sites owned or controlled by the AAD have been designated as important nationally and/or internationally for their cultural heritage significance, while others are being assessed for potential heritage values.

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This page was last modified on 12 August 2010.