This week marked an important anniversary for Mawson research station — 65 years since its establishment.
On 13 February 1954, an expedition led by Dr Phillip Law (longest serving Director of the Australian Antarctic Division) raised the Australian flag on the rocky shore of Horseshoe Harbour, naming the new station Mawson, in honour of Australia’s greatest polar explorer Sir Douglas Mawson.
As with all things Antarctic, the establishment of Mawson Station was certainly not an easy task! Dr Law’s expedition set sail in late 1953 across the challenging Southern Ocean to Heard and Kerguelen Islands to collect additional men and supplies. Sailing in the Kista Dan, a 65-metre Danish ice-strengthened ship, they encountered further challenges enroute to Antarctica including the ship’s besetment, storm damage to two support aircraft, and the near-loss of an oversnow vehicle which broke through thin sea ice. Despite this adversity, the expedition team arrived at Horseshoe Harbour in early February 1954.
Once ashore on 13 February 1954, Dr Law and his expedition team officially named the site ‘Mawson’. To quote from Dr Law himself:
'…with unloading half finished and construction of huts proceeding, I gathered the men around a flag pole beside the caravans, raised the Australian flag, and said: ‘In the name of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia, I raise the Australian flag on Australian Antarctic Territory and I name the site of this new ANARE station “Mawson” in honour of the great Australian Antarctic explorer and scientist, Sir Douglas Mawson.'
Ten days later, the Kista Dan sailed out of Horseshoe Harbour leaving behind a 10-strong wintering party. In the ensuing 65 years, Mawson has been home to hundreds of Australian expeditioners making it the longest continuous operating station in Antarctica. In 2019, that strong tradition continues with a 15-person team now commencing their winter stay.
From all of us that have had the privilege to call Mawson home over the last 65 years — happy anniversary Mawson Station!
Kyle (Station Leader)