Way back on the 18th February 1931 at Cape Bruce, Antarctica, Sir Douglas Mawson in the company of ten other members of his party, proclaimed “I, Sir Douglas Mawson, do hereby proclaim and declare to all men that, from and after the date of these presents the full sovereignty of the Territory which we have discovered and explored extending continuously from Adelie Land, westwards to Mac.Robertson Land being that part of the Antarctic mainland and offlying islands (including amongst others, Drygalski Island, Hordern Island, David Island, Masson Island, Henderson Island, Haswell Islands and an Island in Longitude 103 deg 15 mins East, shown on our charts) situated between meridia 138 deg and 60 deg east of Greenwich and south of Latitude 64 deg as far as the South Pole, vests in His Majesty King George the Fifth, His Heirs, and Successors forever.
Mawson and his party had arrived at this remote location on board the ship Discovery having set sail from Hobart in November 1930. Monday 15th October 2012 (some 81 years later), another party arrives at this same remote location and walks in the same footsteps as those Antarctic heroes. This time, however, there are differences.
Firstly, the mode of transport was different. Our party made the 98 odd kilometre journey from Mawson station in the relative warmth and comfort of two Haggulands. With GPS navigation, radios and satellite phones to keep us on track and in touch with the station at all times.
Secondly, we wore modern thermal clothing, Sorrel glacier boots, synthetic gloves, beanies, goggles and balaclavas keeping us all as warm as toast.
Thirdly, we were armed with digital cameras and videos helping us all record those special Antarctic memories in a compact format and allowing us to send images back home to loved ones when we returned to station. No messy processing to worry about. The results of our camera handy work can be displayed in an instant.
But probably the most notable of all, which clearly illustrates how much things have changed over the past years, was the sight of our small team of winterers, surrounding Mawson’s Proclamation Plaque, whilst eating chocolate ice cream from cones.
Yes indeed. We have come a long way. If only Sir Douglas could see us now.