Mawson's Huts Lives Up To "Home Of The Blizzard" Name

Mawson's Huts buried in hard snow
Mawson's Huts buried in hard snow (Photo: Simon Mossman)
Mawson's Huts buried in hard snow

3 November 2006

A team of carpenters and conservators on an Australian Government funded expedition to restore historic Mawson's Huts have reached Cape Denison in Antarctica to be met by winds of over 100 kilometres per hour, temperatures around minus 20 and visibility of around 30 metres.

"The site is living up to its name as the 'Home of the Blizzard' for the expedition team, with the huts buried in hard snow halfway up their roof," the Minister for the Environment and Heritage Senator Ian Campbell said.

"As soon as the weather improves the team will assess the site, and begin their work.

"Ironically our records show that on the same day 94 years ago Mawson's comprehensive meteorological records show the wind blew from SSE all day and night at an average 65 kilometres per hour gusting up to 85 kilometres per hour, but never dropping below 50 kilometres per hour and with an average temperature of -7.8 degrees Centigrade," Senator Campbell said.

Senator Campbell said the Australian Government had provided a $320,000 grant to help fund important work being undertaken by the Mawson's Huts Foundation, with considerable logistical support being provided by the Australian Government Antarctic Division.

"Mawson's Huts are the only physical connection back to the period of pioneering Australian Antarctic exploration during the Heroic Era (1911-1914)," he said.

"Mawson's Huts is an amazing site that was the first base for scientific and geographical discovery by an Australasian Antarctic Expedition (AAE) led by Adelaide geologist Douglas Mawson.

"These expeditions were the earliest large-scale scientific inquiry by Australians outside Australia following Federation."

Mawson's Huts, which are on the National Heritage list, is one of only six surviving Heroic Era wintering bases. The Huts feature many items, ranging from food to work tools, intact and exactly as they were left on the expedition's departure.

The five-member Mawson's Huts conservation team was flown ashore by helicopter at Cape Denison on Monday this week from the French Antarctic resupply ship L'Astrolabeafter negotiating dense pack ice.