Mawson Station established

Mawson station in 1956
Mawson station in 1956, two years after the stationís establishment. (Photo: Phil Law)

Kista Dan sailed from Melbourne in January 1954 for Heard Island and MacRobertson Land. A suitable site for a station was found on a rock outcrop surrounding a natural deep-water harbour. It was ideal. The site was one of the few rock exposures along the coast and offered excellent access to the interior of the continent.

Over a period of twelve days, prefabricated buildings, food, stores, scientific equipment and over-snow vehicles were landed and construction of the station was commenced. On 13 February 1954 Phillip Law opened Australia’s first permanent station in Antarctica, naming it in honour of Sir Douglas Mawson. After leaving Robert Dovers and the winter party to finish construction work, commence the scientific program and make a start on the inland exploration, the ship sailed east to explore Mackenzie Bay and the Vestfold Hills in Princess Elizabeth Land. This set the pattern for Law’s future work, where each voyage would support the permanent stations and then remain in the Antarctic conducting extensive surveys along the coast of the Australian Antarctic Territory.

Following the successful establishment of Mawson and the great gains made in inland survey work, further impetus to concentrate on the continent came from the decision to participate in the International Geophysical Year (IGY). This was to run from 1957 to 1958 and emphasised the unique scientific opportunities of Antarctica. Law’ plans to establish a second station in the Vestfold Hills, which he had visited in 1954, were therefore timely. Law saw it as essential that Australia build its second station in this extensive ice free area which promised unique scientific opportunities. Kista Dan was again used to carry the party and materials for a new station, and on 13 January 1957 Law opened Davis, naming it in honour of Captain John King Davis.

This page was last modified on July 3, 2014.