The future

The Australian Antarctic Division will strive to ensure that the National and Commonwealth Heritage values of the Mawson’s Huts Historic Site are valued, protected and understood, and conserved in accordance with the requirements of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

The processes for the protection and management of the Site is embodied in the Conservation Philosophy enunciated in the Management Plan for the site.

Conservation Philosophy

Mawson’s Huts Historic Site should be valued, protected and understood, and the National and Commonwealth listed heritage values be conserved in accordance with the requirements of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.


The primary historical reference point is December 1913, when the Australasian Antarctic Expedition abandoned the base.*

The 1913 internal configuration of the intact buildings (the Main Hut and magnetograph House) should be cautiously revealed (by removing ice, subject to conditions) and where necessary repaired (by reconstructing fixtures broken by ice).*

A secondary reference point is January 1931, for those parts modified by the British, Australian and New Zealand Antarctic Research Expedition.

The effects of a century of exposure should not be obscured, unless to prevent structural failure. The Transit Hut and Absolute Magnetic Hut should be preserved as ruins evoking the sense of time elapsed.


Significant fabric should be conserved in its original context.

Interventions at Cape Denison should do as much as is necessary (preserve, restore or reconstruct) in order to conserve the site’s integrity, but otherwise change as little as possible so that the site’s cultural significance is retained.

Objects inside the huts should be kept in or returned to their documented or likely original context, not arranged for display. Significant objects may be treated to stall further deterioration, preferably on site.

Objects in the external scatters should only be removed from the site or into a hut if they are exceptional to interpretation, and such treatment is the sole practical means of ensuring their survival. No replica objects should be introduced.


Research and conservation partnerships will enrich the interpretation and awareness of the site.

Partnerships between the Australian Antarctic Division and heritage experts and philanthropic organisations such as the Mawson’s Huts Foundation continue the 1911-14 model of non-government contributions to Antarctic endeavours.

Collections agencies and others holding Australasian Antarctic Expedition objects and related documents should be involved in improving the links between on-site and off-site interpretation of the place.

Where to now?

The Management Plan will be implemented as feasible within the annual programs of the Australian Antarctic Division, supplemented by the contributions of private groups interested in the conservation of the site. The Australian Antarctic Division will evaluate season-by-season works programs against the objectives and policies laid out in this plan. The extent to which the Australian Antarctic Division participates in works programs will be determined in the context of strategic planning for the entire Australian Antarctic program, and will be subject to the availability of staff and funds, and to any special requirements of the Director of the Australian Antarctic Division or Minister for the Department of the Environment and Energy.

The remoteness of the site, and the seasonal conditions encountered there, will influence the extent to which the Management Plan implementation can be delivered from year to year. There may be years in the life of this plan in which no suitable vessel is available to transport a works team to the site, or in which resources are applied to off-site rather than on-site work. There may also be years in which snow, ice or wind conditions at the site prevent the achievement of some or any of its goals.

The difficulties associated with access to the site were demonstrated in recent years by the movement of Iceberg B9-0B. This large iceberg blocked vessel access to the site, prohibiting tourism or management visits to the area. The iceberg is slowly shifting, which may improve access to the historic site in the future.

The implementation plan is contained in Section 8 of the Management Plan.