Rare Antarctic artefacts on display

The first flagpole to fly the Australian flag in the Antarctic, and parts of the first aircraft taken to the icy continent, are now on display at the Mawson’s Huts Replica Museum in Hobart.

Recovered from Mawson’s Huts at Cape Denison, between 2006 and 2010, the rare artefacts have been loaned to the Museum by the Australian Antarctic Division.

The flagpole was attached to the apex of the Main Hut when it was built in January 1912 at Commonwealth Bay by Douglas Mawson and other members of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition (1911–14). It was removed in 2006 (and replaced with an identical but new piece of Oregon pine) and returned to Australia for conservation treatment by the Mawson’s Huts Foundation.

The aircraft parts were part of a Vickers monoplane, which crashed during a test flight in Adelaide just days before the expedition left for Antarctica in 1911. The expedition took it anyway and used it as a form of tractor to tow sledges along the ice, but it was not a great success (Australian Antarctic Magazine 18: 30–32, 2010).

“Mawson left a wonderful legacy for Australia, and these items provide visitors with a unique link to the past, helping to tell the story of those epic early years of Antarctic exploration,” Mawson’s Hut Foundation Chairman and CEO, Mr David Jensen, said.