Plan to protect Antarctic home of Australian pioneer

Mawson's huts construction with workers on the roof and around the hut
An advanced stage in the construction of the hut at Commonwealth Bay (Photo: Frank Hurley)

18 June 2008

Environment and Heritage Minister, Peter Garrett today launched a comprehensive management plan to conserve and protect the place that Douglas Mawson called home.

The Mawson’s Huts Historic Site Management Plan 2007–2012 sets out the direction of management of the site regarded as Australia’s most significant historic presence in Antarctica.

“Mawson led the 1911–1914 Australasian Antarctic Expedition, arriving at Commonwealth Bay early in 1912 where he and his colleagues built a number of huts to house them and their scientific equipment,” Mr Garrett said.

“Remarkably, the huts remain today although time and the elements have taken their toll.”

“Conservation of the site is important because of Mawson’s major contribution to the world of polar scientific research and exploration internationally.

“This management plan ensures proper care and conservation of the place Douglas Mawson called ‘the home of the blizzard’,” Mr Garrett said.

“In recent times, a number of expeditions by the Australian Antarctic Division and the Mawson’s Huts Foundation, have carried out a range of critical conservation work,” Mr Garrett said.

“It was Douglas Mawson’s foresight and appreciation of the importance of Antarctic science that led to Australia’s current endeavours there as he was a tireless lobbyist of governments to secure ongoing funding for that purpose,” he said.

Mawson travelled to Antarctica on several occasions and his great achievement as an Antarctic leader and scientist were recognised with a knighthood from King George V.

“Sir Douglas Mawson is an Antarctic pioneer who rightly takes his place alongside other polar luminaries Roald Amundsen, Ernest Shackleton and Robert Scott,” Mr Garrett said.

The site was included on the National Heritage List in 2005 for its outstanding historic significance, and on the Commonwealth Heritage List for its historic values in 2004. It had been registered on the Register of the National Estate since 1980.