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Media Release
Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell

3 November 2006

Mawson's Huts live up to 'home of the blizzard' name


A team of carpenters and conservators on an Australian Government funded expedition to restore historic Mawson's Huts have reached Cape Denison in winds over 100 kilometres per hour, the temperature around minus 20 and visibility of around 30 metres.

"The site is living up to its name as the 'Home of the Blizzard' for the expedition team, with the huts buried in hard snow halfway up their roof," the Minister for the Environment and Heritage Senator Ian Campbell said.

"As soon as the weather abates sufficiently the team will assess the site, and begin their work.

"Ironically our records show that on the same day 94 years ago Mawson's comprehensive meteorological records show the wind blew from SSE all day and night at an average 65 kilometres per hour gusting up to 85 kilometres per hour, but never dropping below 50 kilometres per hour and with an average temperature of -7.8 degrees Centigrade," Senator Campbell said.

Senator Campbell said the Australian Government had provided a $320,000 grant to help fund important work being undertaken by the Mawson's Huts Foundation, with considerable logistical support being provided by the Australian Government Antarctic Division.

"Mawson's Huts are the only physical connection back to the period of pioneering Australian Antarctic exploration during the Heroic Era (1911-1914)," Senator Campbell said.

"Mawson's Huts is an amazing site that was the first base for scientific and geographical discovery in Antarctica by Australasian Antarctic Expedition (AAE) led by Adelaide geologist Douglas Mawson.

"These expeditions were the earliest large-scale scientific inquiry by Australians outside Australia following Federation."

Mawson's Huts, which are on the National Heritage List, is one of only six surviving Heroic Era wintering bases. The Huts feature many items, ranging from food to work tools, intact and exactly as they were left on the expedition's departure.

The five-member Mawson's Huts conservation team was flown ashore by helicopter at Cape Denison on Monday this week from the French Antarctic resupply ship L'Astrolabe after negotiating dense pack ice. The team is due to return to Australia on Christmas Eve.

The latest pictures of Mawson's Huts half buried in snow are available http://www.aad.gov.au/

Media contact:
Rob Broadfield 02 6277 7640 or 0409 493 902

Commonwealth of Australia