An exhibition featuring a rare collection of Australian Antarctic artefacts has been viewed by more than 370,000 people during its national tour, which finished in the New South Wales town of Grafton yesterday.

Traversing Antarctica: the Australian experience, was developed by the National Archives of Australia, in conjunction with the Australian Antarctic Division and the Western Australian Museum.

The exhibition opened in Tasmania in December 2011, and its closing marks the end of centenary celebrations for Sir Douglas Mawson’s 1911–14 Australasian Antarctic Expedition.

National Archives of Australia Director-General Mr David Fricker said the exhibition travelled to 12 venues in six states and territories throughout regional Australia.

“Some of the original equipment and diaries used by members of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition were on display — iconic objects such as Cecil Madigan’s sled, skis and ice axe and Group Captain Stuart Campbell’s diary,” Mr Fricker said.

“There were also interactive displays on frontier survival, animals, science and living in Antarctica.

“The exhibition attracted large crowds and was resoundingly well-received by young and old across the country,” he said.

Australian Antarctic Division Director Dr Tony Fleming said the exhibition showcased the significant role Australia plays on the icy continent.

“From Mawson’s time through to the current day, Australia has been at the forefront of exploration, scientific endeavour and environmental protection in Antarctica,” Dr Fleming said.

“This exhibition really brought Antarctica to Australians, particularly in regional areas, who would not normally get the opportunity to have such an extensive and hands-on experience.”

The artefacts included in the exhibition will now be returned to the National Archives and the Australian Antarctic Division.