Mawson’s Hut
Cape Denison, Commonwealth Bay

The historic site, located at Cape Denison, consists of four huts and other historical remains originally built during Douglas Mawson’s Australasian Antarctic Expedition of 1911-1914. The main base and winter living quarters, Mawson’s Hut, is made up of two prefabricated expedition huts joined together to make a living hut and workshop. The Magnetograph House housed the equipment used to continually measure variations in the Earth’s magnetic field near the South Magnetic Pole, with readings taken in the Absolute Magnetic Hut used to calibrate these measurements. The Transit Hut was used to take star sights to determine the exact latitude and longitude of Cape Denison. The expedition left the site on 24 December 1913.

1931
Australian and New Zealand Antarctic Research Expedition

Mawson returned to Cape Denison briefly in 1931 during the British, Australian and New Zealand Antarctic Research Expedition aboard the ship Discovery, taking magnetic readings and discovering that the location of the Magnetic South Pole had significantly changed since his last readings taken in 1914.

1950 - 1986
Conservation and Repair

The hut was not revisited again until the 1950s, when four French parties visited the site, at times reusing the Magnetograph House and Absolute Magnetic Hut to take magnetic observations. In the 1960s four visits were made by American, New Zealand and French expeditions, and in the early 1970’s the Australian National Antarctic Research Expedition (ANARE) visited four times. Reports on the deteriorating condition of the huts were made. In 1977 the first conservation work on the site was conducted by ANARE, and in 1984 and 1985 a private expedition, Project Blizzard, conducted extensive surveys and made critical repairs. In 1986 ANARE returned, preparing the first Conservation Management Plan for the site.

1972
Historic Site and Monument (HSM) 77

The Main Hut and associated buildings were designated as Historic Site and Monument (HSM) 13 in 1972, and now renumbered HSM 77. The site has also been placed within Antarctic Specially Protected Area 162 and has been part of Antarctic Specially Managed Area 3 since 2004. Cape Denison is also listed on the Australian National Heritage List, the Commonwealth Heritage List and the Register of the National Estate.

1996
Mawson’s Hut Foundation

In 1996 the Mawson’s Hut Foundation was formed to raise funds to send expeditions to conserve the historic site, and that same year they sent heritage architects to Cape Denison to assess its condition and make recommendations. More recently, in 2006 the over cladding of the Main Hut roof was completed, preventing the entry of more snow and ice and allowing for the removal of some of the ice that had built up over time. In 2007 a conservation laboratory was constructed on site next to the purpose-built accommodation.

Today

Today the site is managed by the Mawson's Hut Foundation, based in Sydney, Australia. They look after the hut and artefacts and work to tell the story of Mawson and his Antarctic endeavours.

They have also created a replica of Mawson's hut as a museum in Hobart which gives visitors a real experience of life in a heroic era hut. 

For more information about the site visit the Mawson’s Hut Foundation website.

View the replica hut here

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