While Mawson’s work led directly to the establishment of the Australian Antarctic Territory (AAT), Phillip Law consolidated Australia’s reputation in Antarctica under the Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions (ANARE). As an indefatigable promoter of Australia’s Antarctic interests, he secured substantial and ongoing national commitment to Antarctica.
In 1949, Law was appointed director of the Antarctic Division (the title was officer-in-charge at the time) and leader of ANARE. He held this position for the next 17 years.
Law capitalised on the experiences of the pioneers and, with the benefit of better ships and modern technology, under his leadership ANARE achieved in a short time what would have been inconceivable to early explorers. It was Law whose leadership led to the establishment of Mawson, the first permanent Australian station on the continent, followed by Davis.
Law achieved an indelible record of Antarctic exploration. In less than 20 years, he had overseen 28 Antarctic and sub-Antarctic voyages, most as expedition leader. Making landings at previously unvisited sites, under Law’s direction over 5,000 km of AAT coastline was accurately chartered for the first time. During this time, winter parties working inland from stations extended the total area mapped to more than one million square kilometres.
Awards and honours
In 1987, Law Base was named in his honour. It was established in the Larsemann Hills near the site where Law first landed in 1958.
Law Dome, Law Landing, Law Promontory, Law Plateau and Law Islands in Antarctica also bear his name.
Law remained a tireless supporter of Australian Antarctic interests up until his death in 2010 aged 97.