Antarctica is unique in many ways. Thanks to the harsh, dry and cold environment, things often are perfectly preserved for a long time and decay only slowly. For anyone interested in polar history, this feature is perfect in the search of items and goods that had left behind by old polar explorers. One of these people enamored by polar history is Australian Dave McCormack who now has been awarded the prestigious Phillip Law Medal.

Dave McCormack truly is an Antarctic explorer. He has spent many seasons at Australian Antarctic stations as an engineer and inspector between 1972 and 1988. Picture: Michael Whittle
Dave McCormack truly is an Antarctic explorer. He has spent many seasons at Australian Antarctic stations as an engineer and inspector between 1972 and 1988. Picture: Michael Whittle

A seasoned Antarctic expeditioner with a passion for the history of Antarctic exploration has been awarded the 2017 Phillip Law Medal during midwinter celebrations in Hobart. Dave McCormack was presented with the medal in recognition of his efforts as the driving force behind the recovery and restoration of many Australian Antarctic heritage artefacts, particularly mechanical equipment used to transport expeditioners around the continent. Awarded by the Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions (ANARE) Club, the Phillip Law Medal recognises an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to Antarctic affairs and the Antarctic community. Mr McCormack wintered in Antarctica six times between 1972 and 1988, as a senior diesel mechanic and plant inspector. He also worked at the Australian Antarctic Division’s headquarters in Kingston as a senior plant inspector and supervisor of the mechanical section. Since retiring, he continues to travel to the continent as a resupply watercraft operator, with his latest voyage to Davis and Mawson research stations earlier this year.

Dave McCormack, who had wintered six times on Antarctica, had a strong fable for polar history. Even after his retirement, he continued to travel to Antarctica on board of the Aurora Australis. Picture: Frederique Olivier
Dave McCormack, who had wintered six times on Antarctica, had a strong fable for polar history. Even after his retirement, he continued to travel to Antarctica on board of the Aurora Australis. Picture: Frederique Olivier

Mr McCormack said it was an honour to receive the Award. “It’s important to retain this history, and fantastic to be recognised for my efforts. I believed it needed to be done,” Mr McCormack said. “People are interested in how expeditioners live in Antarctica, and there are so many items that capture the history of the program. For example, there are caravans which the expeditioners lived in while they were building Mawson station, there’s a Norwegian sledge in perfect condition and the first Weasel, a mechanical oversnow vehicle used by ANARE on the continent.” Mr McCormick has restored many items returned from Antarctica, including a red ‘sno traveler’ on display at the Division’s headquarters in Kingston. The ANARE Club’s acting President Ian Mackie, said that the award acknowledges Mr McCormack’s passion for all things Antarctic. “Dave is passionate about the history of Antarctic exploration and ANARE in particular and this award is a timely recognition for all his efforts,” Mr Mackie said.

One of the most prominent achievements was the restoration of the Sno Traveler, one of the first oversnow vehicles used by Australian expeditions. Picture: Kevin Bell
One of the most prominent achievements was the restoration of the Sno Traveler, one of the first oversnow vehicles used by Australian expeditions. Picture: Kevin Bell

Source: Australian Antarctic Division