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Senator Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment

Media Release

Antarctic buildings a part of Australia's national heritage.


26 May 1996
(66/96)

A number of buildings at Antarctica's Mawson Station have been recognised as an important part of our nation's heritage with entry on the Interim List of the Register of the National Estate.

Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill has announced the listing at the Mawson Exhibition at the SA Museum as a preview to this week's addition of 57 new entries to the list.

Senator Hill says Mawson Station, established in February 1954, is Australia's longest continuously occupied scientific station in the Antarctic.

"The dramatic landscape of the Antarctic and the romance that surrounds the long history of Antarctic expeditions has captured the imagination of the Australian people.

"Mawson was our first continental station in the Antarctic and remains one of Australia's most isolated scientific research stations.

"The station is a significant part of our history because of its association with some of the most famous Antarctic expeditioners, including Robert Dovers and Phillip Law.

"Mawson Station is a rare example of the design of early Antarctic stations and reflects a lifestyle of expeditioners now no longer practiced.

"The buildings demonstrate the evolution of Antarctic building design used in Australian stations. Almost all building types developed by Australia for Antarctica are represented at Mawson.

"Modern Antarctic stations are entirely different in their scale, planning and construction and the lifestyle of expeditioners has also changed dramatically."

Senator Hill has acknowledged that the extreme weather conditions in the Antarctic may make it impossible to conserve all buildings at the station.

"The interim listing is a signal that we believe the station is a significant part of our heritage.

"While in the long term it may be impossible to preserve all the buildings we need to assess what can be done in practical terms to retain the unique nature of the station.

"Our Antarctic Division is currently looking at plans to prioritise the preservation of the most significant buildings.

"The aim would be to incorporate the conservation of the original buildings which have the highest significance into future planning for the station and examine the possibility of returning some of the structures to Australia as museum exhibits.

"A final decision on the future of the buildings is subject to an environmental assessment and the costs of conservation."

Among the structures at Mawson being entered on the Interim List is the first hut ever erected, now referred to as the Electrician's Workshop. Three of the other buildings completed in the first year at Mawson, known as the Electrician's Store, the Field Store and 'Biscoe', are also being listed.

Other structures include the Doglines used for husky sledge dogs which were introduced at Mawson in 1954. Although dogs have not been used at Mawson since 1993, the structures at the station associated with the dog teams provide an important historical link with this aspect of Australia's pioneering work in Antarctica.

The Register of the National Estate is Australia's national list of natural and cultural places and is compiled by the Australian Heritage Commission.

Entry in the register is a public recognition for the heritage values of a place and means that it has met the criteria for national estate significance. Places in the Register are not managed by the Commission and listing does not give the Commonwealth Government any rights to acquire a place nor enable people to enter a national estate place which is privately owned.

Interim listing means the public is allowed up to three months to object to the identified place being included in the Register of National Estate.

A total of 57 new entries on the Interim List will be announced on Tuesday by the Chair of the Australian Heritage Commission, Ms Wendy McCarthy AO.

Further Information
Matt Brown (Senator Hill) 0419 693 515
Noel Pratt (Heritage Commission) 06 217 2117
Lyden Ayliffe (Heritage Commission) 06 217 2128

Background

Commonwealth of Australia