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Mawson’s Huts

Mawson’s historic site consists of four huts and other historical remains.

Nestled on rocks just 60 metres from the shore at the base of Cape Denison, East Antarctica, Mawson’s Huts are the jewel in Australia’s rich Antarctic heritage.

Protected under international and national law, Mawson’s Huts are entered in the Register of the National Estate and the Main Hut and Memorial Cross are recognised as Historic Monuments by the Antarctic Treaty Parties. The Australian Heritage Commission has recommended that the whole of the Cape Denison establishment be recognised as an historic zone.

The site at Cape Denison, is one of just six historic sites which remain intact from the “heroic era” of Antarctic exploration – which stretched from 1897 to 1917. The Mawson’s Huts historic site consists of four huts and other historical remains: The main building comprised the living quarters and a workshop and remains fully intact thanks to the efforts of the Mawson’s Huts Foundation; three other huts were used to conduct scientific observations – two of them, now standing ruins; and a Memorial Cross, erected in memory of the two members of the AAE who lost their lives.

These Huts were used as the main base for two years, by the Australasian Antarctic Expedition (AAE) of 1911-14 led by Dr Douglas Mawson. His was the world’s first truly scientific expedition to the white continent and one of several land based exploratory expeditions from Britain, Norway, France, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Belgium, Japan and Scotland.

Mawson’s Huts represent the only in-situ evidence of early Australian Antarctic research. Among the many scientific achievements of Mawson’s Expedition was the first use of radio on the Antarctic continent, linking the base at Cape Denison with mainland Australia via the relay station established on Macquarie Island, for the continuous recording and transmission of meteorological observations.

Funds are urgently needed to continue an expensive conservation and maintenance programme that requires regular visit to one of the remotest places on the continent.

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The Main Hut

The structure is made of two prefabricated huts providing living quarters and a workshop.

Its survival in the most severe of polar climates attests to the merit of Mawson’s design and its great strength of structure.

Transit Hut

The hut is still standing but in poor condition. Originally known as the Astronomical Observatory, the Transit Hut housed instrumentation used to take star sights to determine the exact latitude and longitude of Cape Denison.

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Magnetograph House​​

Located some 310m northeast of the Main Hut, it is still intact and largely ice free. It housed the delicate equipment that continually measured variations in the Earth’s magnetic field near the South Magnetic Pole.

Absolute Magnetic Hut ​

Located some 52m south of the Magnetograph House, the hut is now in ruins. Used to collect measurements of the Earth’s magnetic field. These measurements were then used to calibrate the records collected from the Magnetograph House.

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Memorial Cross

The Memorial Cross was erected in November 1913 in memory of Belgrave Ninnis and Xavier Mertz, the AAE members who perished during the notorious 1912-13 sledging journey that Mawson himself barely survived.

Become involved and support our work

Help conserve Australia’s rich Antarctic heritage.

The Foundation is a not for profit charity seeking funds to promote and encourage public interest in the nation’s Antarctic history including the conservation of Mawson’s Huts at Cape Denison, East Antarctica.

The Mawson’s Huts Foundation is a registered Deductible Gift Recipient with all monetary donations tax deductible.

Conservation & Restoration

Since its establishment in 1996, the Foundation has funded and organised 14 major expeditions to the Mawson’s Huts historic site at Cape Denison. The expeditions have saved the main building from imploding and being blown into the Southern ocean, just 60 metres away.