Seventy years ago on November 28, the maiden expedition of Australia’s Antarctic Program set sail from Western Australia, establishing the first of the nation’s research stations in the polar region. Nowadays, Australia is considered a key player in Antarctic affairs and holds the largest segment of Antarctica.
The New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust has discovered an almost perfectly preserved 118 year old watercolour painting by Dr Edward Wilson in an historic hut at Cape Adare, Antarctica.
In the white turmoil of an Antarctic snow storm, finding shelter fast can be the difference between life and death. In 1957, the intense orange and yellow of Sir Edmund Hillary’s Hut at New Zealand’s Scott Base in Antarctica was a beacon to those caught out by the weather. Now the original colour scheme has been restored.
Nestled alongside Scott Base in Antarctica, is Hillary's Hut - a small building that's played a big role in New Zealand's history. Hillary's Hut was the first building constructed at Scott Base. It was built by a team led by Sir Edmund Hillary in 1957 and it was from here that Sir Ed later led the historic expedition to the South Pole. Sadly, the hut now has a leaking roof, asbestos that needs removing, melt pools under the floor boards and the artefacts within it are showing signs of damage and corrosion. But work is now underway to save it.
Just 40 years ago, on April 21 1976, six researchers and technicians together with a group of international colleagues celebrated the inauguration of the first German permanent Antarctic station near the Russian Nowolasarewskaja-Station in Queen Maud Land, East Antarctica. The station itself belonged to the Academy of Science of the former GDR (German Democratic Republic or East Germany), but the logistics was coordinated and organized together with the Sowjet Antarctic expeditions. The station was named “Georg Forster” after the German scientist who had accompanied James Cook and had stepped onto South Georgia soil on January 17 1775.
At the turn of the 20th century Antarctica was the focus of one of the last great races of exploration and discovery. Expeditions led by Scott and Shackleton built simple wooden bases from which they set-out to explore the continent. The explorers mapped and undertook the first scientific study of Antarctica. The departure of Shackleton’s Ross Sea Party in 1917 marked the end of this heroic era of exploration.
A plan to conserve Sir Edmund Hillary's hut in Antarctica has been announced. The hut built in 1957/58 forms part of New Zealand’s first scientific facility at Scott Base. The Antarctic Heritage will have to raise 1 million dollars to complete the work.
A study of the causes of the heavy sea ice conditions in the Antarctic when Shackleton’s Endurance Expedition was heading south has been published just as the same phenomena (called ‘El Nino’) is causing record sea ice levels in the area today
Antarctica New Zealand has launched a digital platform which makes thousands of images and videos of New Zealand’s Antarctic history available to the public. Originally designed as a photo archive, this affectionately named tool, ADAM, is a custom-designed web-platform showcasing more than 40,000 images dating back to 1957.
The race for the South Pole between Roald Amundsen and Robert Falcon Scott is one of the most legendary and tragic stories in polar history. Even today, new testimonies and historical artefacts of the Terra Nova expedition are found. They give a better insight into the events leading to the drama as well as showing the circumstances and environments endured by the men of the expedition. Recently, a new set of 52 negatives has been discovered, but which will come under the hammer of an auctioneer soon.