Mawson’s Huts are the collection of buildings located at Cape Denison, Commonwealth Bay, in the far eastern sector of the Australian Antarctic Territory, some 3000 km south of Hobart. This is a small group of huts that were built by Australian Antarctic explorer Douglas Mawson in the early 20th century.
Mawson’s Huts are rare as one of just six surviving sites from the Heroic Era of Antarctic exploration. The Australasian Antarctic Expedition was the only Heroic Era expedition organized, manned and supported primarily by Australians.
The huts included a magnetograph hut, used to measure variations in the south magnetic pole; an absolute magnetic hut, which was used as a reference point for studies in the magnetograph hut; and the transit hut, an astronomical observatory.
The most important building at the site is the winter living quarters, known as “Mawson’s Hut”. This pyramid-roofed hut was home to the eighteen men of the AAE main base party in 1912, and the seven (including Douglas Mawson) who stayed on for an unplanned second year in 1913. The hut combines two sections – the living quarters and the workshop, prefabricated in Sydney and Melbourne respectively.
History of Mawson’s Huts
Constructed between 1911-1914, the small research station is now known simply as the Mawson Huts. It stands as one of the last outposts left from the so-called Heroic Era of Antarctic Exploration, and the only one created by Australians.
Mawson and his team of 17 men, the Australasian Antarctic Expedition, traveled to Commonwealth Bay to conduct experiments on a variety of subjects including continental drift, local wildlife, and glaciation.
When the expedition left the site, they left their huts in place and headed out. The site simply sat in the cold and wind for two decades. They were briefly used in the 1930s, then abandoned once again.
While reaching Mawson’s Huts is not exactly easy, they remain there for any enterprising explorer interested in paying a visit. They are a protected historic site, so if the weather doesn’t destroy them, they should be there for some time to come.