The Macca team joined the ANARE Club, Russian Embassy and Progress station in historic celebrations

Russia's Antarctic Expedition to Macquarie Island

The Macca team joined the ANARE club, Russian Embassy and Progress station in celebrating the 200th anniversary of the Russian Antarctic Expedition that stopped at Macquarie Island between 29 November to 1 December 1820.

The event in Canberra was attended by the Russian Ambassador, Dr Alexey Pavlovsky, and included the unveiling of a commemorative plaque and presentations via video teleconference links with Australia’s Macquarie Island Station and Russia’s Progress Station.

David Dodd, Treasurer ANARE Club and Bellingshausen Project Leader, provided the following account of the significance of this event:

The circumnavigation of the Antarctic continent by the Russian Antarctic Expedition of 1819 -1821, in the wake of Captain James Cook’s Second Voyage (1772 -1775), is an extremely significant event in the annals of the exploration and discovery of Antarctica, of our two nations, Australia and the Russian Federation.

The Expedition, commanded by Captain Bellingshausen in HIMS Vostok, supported by Lieut. Lazarev in HIMS Mirny, also made an important visit to Port Jackson, Sydney, during April 1820 / May 1820 and again, September to November 1820 and to Australia’s Sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island from 29 November to 1 December 1820, being the first scientific expedition to visit the Island, prior to resuming its voyage of circumnavigation.

Macquarie Island Research Station since its establishment in 1948, and the records of Bellingshausen’s visit to the Island 200 years ago, are of great scientific value and historical interest.

Bellingshausen’s remarkable voyage, during which he was the first to sight the Antarctic continent, remains today, part of the proud history of the exploration and discovery of the continent of Antarctica.

Bellingshausen’s official artist (Pavel Mikhailov) provided a magnificent sketch of Garden Cove. This sketch has been used on Australia Post’s special pre paid envelope. It was also used on a USSR stamp commemorating 150th anniversary of Bellingshausen’s voyage.

This cove was the initial landing place for the 1948 ANARE party in March 1948.

Close to the 200th anniversary George, one of our amazing photographers on station, used the same vantage point, showing little has changed despite the brutal industrial history the island endured, prior to its protection. This is very much thanks to the significant investment of many in eradicating feral pests and focusing on the conservation of this unique part of the world.

For past and present expeditioners, the ANARE club will publish an article on this event in the forthcoming Aurora due out in January.