French Navy lands Australian conservation team in Antarctica

A team of Antarctic expeditioners will start work today on Australia’s most important heritage site at the Home of the Blizzard.

Members of the Mawson’s Huts Foundation have been landed by helicopter from the French icebreaker L’Astrolabe at Cape Denison, a remote stretch of windswept coastline 2500km south of Hobart.

For the next month, they will be among the most isolated people on earth.

The team will carry out vital conservation works at the Mawson’s Huts Historic site, the collection of buildings left behind by the 1911-14 Australasian Antarctic Expedition, led by Australia most famous Antarctic explorer, Douglas Mawson

The expeditioners will face sub-zero temperatures and near-constant howling winds, expedition leader Marty Passingham said.

“Antarctica is one of the hardest places on earth to live and work.

“The works we are able to complete this summer will ensure Mawson’s Hut, its surrounding outbuilding and artefacts will be preserved for as a living reminder of Australia’s Antarctic Heritage.

“Mawson described this as the windiest place on earth and it always lives up to its reputation. There’ as 50-knot breeze blowing at the moment and factoring in the windchill it’s about minus 12 outside.

“Just getting here and establishing camp is the hardest part of the expedition, so we’re thrilled to be able to get on with the job ahead.”

Mawson’s Huts Foundation CEO Greg Carter said the work at Cape Denison this summer had been supported by grants from the Australian government – and donations from ordinary Australians. Strong support is also given by the French Polar Institute, and the French Navy.

“This expedition has a tough job. I’m thrilled they’re been able to set up camp and are getting on with our ambitious program of works for this summer, we are very grateful for the support of the French in our expedition, and it really highlights the spirit of Cooperation in the Antarctic.”

Douglas Mawson is best remembered for his lone trek of survival after the loss of two companions on a sledging expedition. He arrived back at Cape Denison to discover his relief ship had sailed just hours before.