Building empires

Soundings and Stations in the vicinity of Heard Island
Soundings and Stations in the vicinity of Heard Island. From the Challenger Report 1873 1876

The tiny subantarctic island dots were also bases for the great national Antarctic ventures in the 1830s and 1840s, when large-scale scientific and exploring expeditions from France (under Dumont d’Urville), England (James Clark Ross) and the United States (Charles Wilkes) operated out of the Australasian colonies.

In March 1874, the British naval corvette Challenger arrived in Melbourne to complete the first leg of the largest study of the world’s oceans ever attempted. Having explored Antarctic waters southwest of Australia, Challenger continued collecting ocean data in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. It returned to England in 1876 after covering nearly 130,000 kilometres.

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