The first Australian map of the whole Antarctic continent, published in 1939, became part of the National Archives of Australia’s collection today, with a presentation by the Australian Antarctic Division.

The handover was scheduled to coincide with the Midwinter Antarctic Festival in Hobart, marking the commitment of both organisations to the event.

“We decided this map belongs with the National Archives which has the conservation expertise to ensure its preservation for future generations of Australians,” said Dr Tony Press, Director of the Australian Antarctic Division.

“The Midwinter Festival provided an ideal backdrop for the official presentation.”

National Archives Director-General Ross Gibbs thanked Dr Press and explained the significance of the handover.

“This is an important part of Australia’s history in the Antarctic and will provide a valuable resource for historians, scientists and researchers, both now and in the future. The National Archives’ brief is to preserve Commonwealth government documents and ensure the public has access to them,” he said.

The handover of the map, originally produced by the Department of the Interior with an accompanying handbook, coincides with the 75th anniversary of the transfer of the Australian Antarctic Territory from Great Britain to Australia in 1933. In 1939 the map which charts the claim was created using details provided by pioneering expeditions and early flights over the southern continent.

Australia is among seven nations which have claimed territory in Antarctica. The other claimant nations are Argentina, Chile, France, New Zealand, Norway and the United Kingdom. The Australian claim, which covers 42 per cent of Antarctica, was explored by expeditions led by Douglas Mawson in 1911–14 and 1929–31. Australia has a long historical association with this part of Antarctica.