Mawson’s Huts are a collection of buildings located at Cape Denison, Commonwealth Bay, in the far eastern sector of the Australian Antarctic Territory. The buildings were built and occupied by the Australasian Antarctic Expedition (AAE) of 1911–14, led by geologist and explorer Dr (later Sir) Douglas Mawson.

Mawson’s Huts are of national and international heritage significance. They are rare in a world context as 1 of just 6 complexes surviving from the ‘Heroic Era’ of Antarctic exploration.

The buildings are the only surviving site representing the work of an Australian Antarctic expedition during this period. Douglas Mawson’s AAE was the foundation of the modern Australian Antarctic science program. This gives the site significant heritage values for Australia’s national Antarctic interests.

Mawson’s Huts have suffered from the effects of wind, ice and time. A number of recent expeditions by the Australian Antarctic Program and the Mawson’s Huts Foundation have sought to stabilise the remains.

Mawson’s Huts Historic Site Management Plan

In 2001, the Mawson’s Huts Foundation commissioned a conservation management plan for the site, which guided works at the site for several years. In 2007, the Australian Antarctic Division developed a management plan, to meet its obligations arising from the inclusion of the site on the National Heritage List (in 2005) and Commonwealth Heritage List (in 2004), and to reflect the provisions of the Antarctic Treaty management plans for the Cape Denison Antarctic Specially Protected Area (ASPA) and Antarctic Specially Managed Area (ASMA).

This plan was reviewed and revised in 2013. The current management plan is available at Mawson’s Huts Historic Site Management Plan PDF.

This management plan was reviewed in accordance with section 324W and 341X of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 in 2018. This review concluded that the management plan remains consistent with the National and Commonwealth Heritage management principles, and effective in protecting and conserving the National and Commonwealth Heritage values of the Mawson’s Huts Historic Site. The management plan will therefore remain operative pending its sunset in 2023.

The overarching management philosophy for the Mawson’s Huts Historic site is a commitment to the protection and conservation of the National and Commonwealth listed heritage values in accordance with the requirements of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

Persons reading the management plan should note that, in 2014, ASMA No. 3 was de-designated and the boundary of ASPA No. 162 expanded to coincide with the previous ASMA boundary.

Mawson’s Huts Foundation

In partnership with the Australian Antarctic Division, the Mawson’s Huts Foundation contributes to the management and promotion of the Mawson’s Huts Historic Site. The Foundation has participated in expeditions to the site, and undertaken valuable heritage conservation works to conserve the unique historic buildings and artefacts at Cape Denison. It also provides valuable public education and promotion of Sir Douglas Mawson’s legacy.

Further information can be found on the Mawson’s Huts Foundation website.

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