In brief

In Bed With Douglas Mawson

Former Australian Antarctic Arts Fellow, Craig Cormick, has published a book largely written during his seven week journey to Antarctica in 2008. In Bed With Douglas Mawson compares a modern voyage to Antarctica with Douglas Mawson’s voyage of 100 years ago, and looks at the past, present and the future of Australian involvement in Antarctica. In the book, Craig visits Australia’s three Antarctic stations with the ghost of Douglas Mawson at his side, and muses about, and with, the great explorer and geologist, as he experiences the Southern Ocean and the continent for the first time. The book is available from New Holland Publishers Australia for $29.95.

Mawson’s Last Survivor: The Story of Dr Alf Howard AM

Alf Howard (1906–2010) sailed with legends of the heroic era of Antarctic exploration and became a legend in his own lifetime. He was the last surviving member of Sir Douglas Mawson’s 1929–1931 British, Australian and New Zealand Antarctic Research Expedition (BANZARE) and the last survivor to have served aboard the coal-fired, three-masted wooden ship Discovery, built for Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s 1901–1904 Antarctic odyssey.

Alf’s adventurous life and work is documented in a new book by his biographer, Dr Anna Bemrose. Mawson’s Last Survivor: The Story of Dr Alf Howard AM details Alf’s work as a young chemist and hydrologist during BANZARE (illustrated with Frank Hurley’s photographs), and his distinguished career with the CSIRO. It also reveals Alf’s thirst for knowledge and adventure, and his spirit of generosity – he held degrees in physics and linguistics and a PhD in psychology, and for more than 20 years, until the age of 97, he designed computer programs and provided statistical advice to postgraduate students and staff at the University of Queensland. In the 1990s, Alf returned to Antarctica four times.

The book is a fascinating account of a humble Antarctic pioneer with a wry sense of humour.

Anna Bemrose

Australia and the Antarctic Treaty System – 50 years of influence

Australia and the Antarctic Treaty System – 50 years of influence, celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Antarctic Treaty. It brings together a high-calibre team of writers and draws on political interviews, historical investigation, legal analysis and scientific research, to reveal the perspectives of both academics and practitioners expert in the history and future of Antarctica. Its 16 chapters cover the history of Australia’s involvement in the Antarctic Treaty and thematic issues including Antarctic science, resources, environment, diplomacy and culture.

Edited by Marcus Haward and Tom Griffiths, the book is described by Richard Woolcott AC as ‘a major work – a well-researched, wide-ranging and valuable account of the nation’s role on the continent and in the development of the highly successful Antarctic Treaty’. The book is available from the University of New South Wales Press.

One Small Island

Former Australian Antarctic Arts Fellows, Alison Lester and Coral Tulloch, have produced a beautifully designed and illustrated non-fiction picture book about Macquarie Island. One Small Island tells the story of the natural and human history of the island through Alison’s stunning landscape paintings and Coral’s detailed artwork and calligraphy. The book begins with the geological birth of the island, and goes on to describe the discovery and destruction of seal and penguin colonies, the introduction of alien species such as rats, cats and rabbits and efforts to remove them, and the establishment of a scientific station. The book draws on historical journals, maps, scientific notebooks and photographs of Macquarie Island. It is available from Penguin Australia.

Historic Antarctic Diary

Mawson’s Forgotten Men – the 1911–1913 Antarctic Diary of Charles Turnbull Harrisson, transcribed and edited by Heather Rossiter, honours the daring spirit of the lesser-known but equally audacious members of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition (AAE). Tasmanian-born Harrisson (1867–1914) was a member of Douglas Mawson’s AAE, joining the expedition as a biologist and artist. He was part of the Western Party based in Queen Marly Land, led by Frank Wild. He was also a gifted writer and the diary he kept from December 1911 to March 1913 is reproduced here for the first time. Harrisson’s engaging narrative is complemented by his sketches and watercolour paintings of the landscape, as well as photographs of the men in the Western Base Party. The book is available from Murdoch Books.

Feeling the Heat

Walkley Award winning senior writer with The Age, Jo Chandler, has woven her experiences as an Australian Antarctic Arts Fellow into her new book Feeling the Heat. The book takes readers across the Antarctic ice, under the seas and through the tropical rainforests of far north Queensland as Jo explores the mysteries of climate change with the scientists involved in climate research. She tells ‘the raw story of science at the real-world climate frontiers – how it is done, who does it, why they do it, the constraints of what it can tell us, the rules of evidence, the process of hypothesis, investigation, challenge, correction’. The book is published by Melbourne University Press.

2012 Station Leaders

Alison Dean will return to Davis for the 2012 winter, after her previous stint in the position in 2010. Prior to joining the Antarctic Division, Alison worked for the British Antarctic Survey as a geologist and then as a Base Commander at King Edward Point and Bird Island on South Georgia (2005, 2006, 2007) and at Rothera on the Antarctic Peninsula (2008). Alison has also worked for the Northern Territory Geological Survey as a geologist in the Australian outback. She lives in New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

Mark Hunt will go south for the first time to Casey. Mark comes from a career in research and research management within the forestry sector, having completed a PhD at the University of Tasmania and an MBA at Latrobe University. Mark has worked in a variety of roles within the Queensland Government, most recently as Science Leader, Forestry. Mark is adjunct Professor at the University of the Sunshine Coast and for the last three years has been a program manager with the Cooperative Research Centre for Forestry. Mark’s work has taken him around the world including project development work in North Korea, industrial forestry research in the southern United States, and aid-funded research and development across the South Pacific. Mark is married with two adult children and is a keen sea kayaker.

Narelle Campbell will be Macquarie Island’s Station Leader for 2012. Narelle was the Station Leader at Mawson in 2008 and Casey in 2010. Narelle has 23 years experience in print media, covering logistics, sales and marketing in senior management roles. Narelle has degrees in social science and counselling and has worked as a volunteer for Missionbeat in Sydney, providing support to homeless people. Narelle is a keen traveller and has walked the Kokoda Track and completed high altitude climbs in Nepal, India, Africa and Chile.

Seabird Recovery Plan

The new national Recovery Plan for Albatrosses and Giant Petrels was approved by Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke in May.

All of the world’s 22 species of albatross are currently listed as endangered by the International Conservation Union. The birds’ survival is threatened on a number of fronts, including fishing operations, marine debris and pollution, predation of eggs and chicks and habitat destruction.

The new Recovery Plan covers 19 albatross and two giant petrel species which breed on Australian islands and forage in our waters. It outlines a range of research projects and management actions needed to stop the decline of, and support the recovery of, the species.

The 2011–2016 Recovery Plan includes:

  • population monitoring and related demographic research
  • a review of the conservation status of each of the 21 species
  • measures to reduce threats at sea and on land
  • education of fishers and the public about the importance of conserving these species
  • increased international conservation actions.

The Recovery Plan operates alongside the Threat Abatement Plan for the Incidental Catch (or bycatch) of Seabirds during Oceanic Longline Fishing Operations, which aims to reduce deaths and injuries to seabirds from longline fishing, and the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels.

Nisha Harris
Australian Antarctic Division