"Who Goes There?"
The continent of Antarctica has always been associated with exploration,
first trying to find it, then trying to explore it and its features. Most of the early
diaries and tales of Antarctica exploration are filled with stories of how the weather was man's biggest enemy
on the continent.
With its ideal location as a staging post for Antarctic voyagers, Hobart, Tasmania's capital city, has had connections to Antarctic exploration since 1773.
Byrd's explorations had science as a major objective and pioneered the use of aircraft on the continent. The
1890s also marked the beginning of a period of extensive Antarctic exploration, during which 16 exploring
expeditions from nine countries visited the continent.
Early expeditions during the so-called "Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration" (1895-1922) recognized
the phenomenal value of Antarctica as a scientific resource. The whaling stations were popular launching points for the many expeditions, and both
Grytviken and Stromness were crucial to Shackleton's Endurance expedition.
The Australasian Antarctic Expedition (1911–14), which aimed to undertake
science and exploration, saw Douglas Mawson establish his base at Commonwealth Bay. The Hut site is unique amongst
those associated with early exploration on the Antarctic continent, because the majority of the portable artifacts
outside the huts are still in essentially the same locations they were in when Mawson left the site in 1914 .
Because of Antarctica's importance to science, 43 member countries of the
Antarctic Treaty agreed, in 1991, to ban all mining and oil exploration for 50 years,
preserving this unusual continent for science.
Access now is much easier than it was in the days of early Antarctic exploration – but still the
southern continent, with no permanent human population, remains untamed.