It’s been at least seven years since I first discussed republishing this project with Dr. Lorne Kriwoken at the University of Tasmania’s Geography Department. While most of the time I think about Antarctica as a place of epic glacier and geology science, it’s also part of our cultural and civic heritage here in Hobart. Polar Pathways was online as a website about ten years ago, and while it’s been frozen offline, it deserves to be melted back out of the glacier.
The walking tour map takes you through the waterfront, showing you some of the sites and buildings that are part of the story of Antarctica. The driving tour lets you explore the sites region and the Derwent River. There’s much to learn and many stories that remain to be told.
Part of the reason it’s taken so long to republish this was trying to decide how best to transfer a nicely printed tri-fold brochure into a web-readable format. By cropping each section to include the relevant map, it should be usable even on your mobile phone screen. There’s also a link to the original brochure. While I wasn’t able to find the digital files for the audio walking tour, I was able to use the Internet Archive Wayback Machine to find the detailed location notes: they’re appended at the end below the embedded PDFs.
And one more note — since the publication of this map we’ve seen the reconstructed Mawson’s Expedition Hut museum at the waterfront at Mawson place — so do check in on them as a learning hub for Antarctic history.
2) The Brochure
3) The Maps
4) Download the PDF:
5) Detailed notes:
Walking Tour : 1 Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery
Our journey starts here at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, overlooking the Port of Hobart.
Islands to Ice: The Great Southern Ocean and Antarctica is a new exhibition bringing together material from many Australian collections. It is the most interactive in-house exhibition ever staged at the Museum.
The exhibition contains five main themes.
Earliest perceptions: Examining some of the earliest human perceptions of this region.
The Southern Ocean: A huge diorama depicting the diversity of animal species in this area, from fish to sleeper sharks, albatrosses and shearwaters.
The subantarctic islands: Australia’s two main subantarctic island groups – Macquarie Island and the Heard and McDonald Islands – are highlighted.
Antarctica: the continent of ice: The different forms of sea-ice along with descriptions of Antarctic flora and fauna, an ice-core sample and a touch drawer of animal specimens are some of the many exhibits.
Humans in the Antarctic region: Artefacts and stories abound, from a sled believed to be from Borchgrevink’s pioneering 1898 expedition to the first Australian flag flown at the South Pole.
A special feature is the 3D theatre, where visitors can immerse themselves in the world of Frank Hurley’s Antarctic 1911-1914 photography.
Visit the TMAG website for more information about the Islands to Ice exhibition and other exhibitions: www.tmag.tas.gov.au
Entry is free and the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery is open every day except Christmas Day, Good Friday and Anzac Day.
Walking Tour : 2 Maritime Museum of Tasmania
The Maritime Museum of Tasmania, at the corner of Davey and Argyle Streets, tells much about the history of Hobart’s Antarctic and Southern Ocean connections. It features information on early exploration of Tasmanian waters, Hobart’s role as a southern outpost and port, whaling, shipbuilding, shipwrecks, river-steamers and ferries.
The Maritime Museum collection includes films, paintings, photographs, models, figureheads, other ship relics and whaling implements. It has a library, an education room and a comprehensive website which you can find at maritimetas.org.au.
The Maritime Museum is housed in the Carnegie Building, which was built as a public library in the first decade of the 20th century, partly funded by the Scottish-born philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie. The museum is open seven days a week from 9 am to 5 pm.
Walking Tour : 3 Mawson Place
Mawson Place honours the outstanding contribution of the scientist-explorer Douglas Mawson to Australian Antarctic and maritime history.
As a member of Shackleton’s Nimrod expedition Mawson was a member of the three-man party which in 1909 became first to reach the South Magnetic Pole. In 1911 and again in 1930 Mawson led two great Antarctic voyages out of Hobart. During the first expedition, he was the sole survivor of a horrific sledge journey in which his two companions died. His exploration of large areas of East Antarctica from 1929 to 1931 was the basis of Australia’s 1935 claim to Antarctic territory.
The Mawson Place project, completed in 2001, won commendation for landscape design by the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects.
Just seaward from Mawson Place was the now-demolished wharf on which crowds gathered in December 1911 to farewell Mawson’s Australasian Antarctic Expedition, heading for Antarctica aboard Aurora. This was an important working dock from convict times until well into the 20th century, when it was a bustling centre for Tasmania’s apple export trade.
Walking Tour : 4 Heading South
These two sculptures by Stephen Walker, at the water’s edge next to Victoria Dock, symbolise Tasmania’s Antarctic connections and capture something of Hobart’s links with the heroic days of Antarctic exploration.
Heading South recognises English explorer James Clark Ross (1800-1862). From Hobart in 1840, Ross sailed south in his two ships, Erebus and Terror, to discover Antarctica’s Victoria Land and the sea and ice shelf that both carry his name. On his return Tasmania and its governor Sir John Franklin – also a polar explorer – treated Ross and his men as true Antarctic heroes.
Walking Tour : 5 Bernacchi Tribute
Bernacchi Tribute is a life-sized sculpture commemorating the life of the scientist, photographer and writer Louis Charles Bernacchi (1876-1942). Bernacchi was raised in Tasmania, where he first developed a lifelong interest in physics. Specialising in terrestrial magnetism, he went to Antarctica with Borchgrevink’s Southern Cross expedition in 1898 and with Robert Scott in 1901.
Just to the south of this sculpture was the old Queen’s Wharf from which Aurora departed for the Antarctic, carrying Douglas Mawson’s celebrated Australasian Antarctic Expedition, 1911-1914.
Walking Tour : 6 Hunter Street
Hunter Street is where Hobart began. Under the street is the original Hunter Island, where the first settlers kept their food stores from 1804. A causeway built in 1821 allowed construction of these stone buildings to store wool, wheat, hides, timber and whale oil to be shipped to Sydney, Asian ports and England.
Hobart was the mid-point of John Biscoe’s epic circumnavigation of Antarctica in 1830-1833. Separated in Antarctic ice and enduring great hardship and loss of life, Biscoe’s two tiny craft were reunited in Hobart before continuing their voyage to the Antarctic Peninsula and England. Before the development of Salamanca Place, Hunter Street was the main centre of shipping activity on the Hobart waterfront, and in all likelihood Biscoe used its services to refit his two vessels.
Hunter Street enjoyed a further Antarctic connection in the 1980s and 1990s, when it housed the first world headquarters of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), which has since moved to 181 Macquarie Street.
Near the swing bridge is a memorial celebrating 150 years of European settlement.
Walking Tour : 7 National Archives of Australia
The National Archives of Australia has an office in each state and territory capital city. Hobart’s National Archives office, at 85 Macquarie Street opposite the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, contains a wealth of written and video information dating from 1911 through to the Second World War. The collection covers early exploration of the coast of what is now Australian Antarctic Territory and Antarctic research during the era of Sir Douglas Mawson.
The National Archives also houses significant post-war records from the early years of Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions (known by its acronym, ANARE) and the Australian Antarctic Division, now based at Kingston, south of Hobart.
The National Archives Hobart reading room is open Monday to Friday from 9 am to 4.30 pm.
Walking Tour : 8 General Post Office
Hobart’s elegant General Post Office, on the corner of Elizabeth and Macquarie Streets, was erected in 1905 from a design by Alan Walker for the newly-established Commonwealth of Australia. It was only seven years old when it became the venue for an Antarctic event of great importance.
From this building, on 8 March 1912, the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen sent his news to the world that he had reached the South Pole, three weeks ahead of the ill-fated British explorer Robert Scott. Amundsen’s vessel, Fram, had anchored in the Derwent off Long Point, Sandy Bay, where his men could be quarantined from prying newshounds who might divulge his secret before he had informed King Haakon of Norway.
Amundsen dealt directly with Hobart’s Director of Telegraphs, Frank Bowden, grandfather of Tim Bowden, former ABC television personality. Bowden promised to keep the news secret, then sent off Amundsen’s all-important telegram. Bowden kept Amundsen’s secret until the news finally reached the Hobart public three days later, when Amundsen became an instant local celebrity.
Walking Tour : 9 Franklin Square
The site of Franklin Square was initially a parade ground and convict muster area, close to the first governor’s residence. When a new Government House was built on Queens Domain in the 1850s the area was designated a public park and planted with European trees.
The statue by the fountain is of Sir John Franklin, Governor of Van Diemen’s Land from 1837 to 1843 – a polar explorer who died in the late 1840s while exploring the Canadian Arctic. The Norwegian Carsten Borchgrevink knew of Franklin’s historical significance when he posed with his men on their return from Antarctica in late 1898, for a photograph by J.W. Beattie. Borchgrevink placed a wreath of remembrance on Franklin’s statue.
The other statue in the square is of Dr William Lodewyk Crowther (1817-1885), politician, surgeon and owner of the Southern Ocean whaling ships Isabella, Sapphire, Velocity and Offley.
Walking Tour : 10 Antarctic wildlife sculpture
Opposite Franklin Square, at the front of the Reserve Bank of Australia at 111 Macquarie Street, is a life-size bronze sculpture of penguins, seals and skuas, completed in 1984 by the Tasmanian artist Stephen Walker.
Walking Tour : 11 St David’s Cathedral
On 17 March 1912, while still in Hobart, Amundsen attended a special service at St David’s Cathedral to welcome his party back and to pray for the well-being of the polar party led by Sir Robert Scott.
Scott, long overdue on his return from the Pole, was still alive at this point, but died in his tent with his two remaining companions about two weeks later. The party’s fate was not known to the world until the following summer after the discovery of his tent containing the three frozen bodies.
Present at the Antarctic service was Robert Scott’s sister, Ettie, who was married to the Tasmanian Governor, Sir William McCartney. The Cathedral later became home to a memento of Sir John Franklin’s fatal Northwest Passage expedition of the 1840s. A flag embroidered by Franklin’s wife Jane was presented to the cathedral to commemorate Tasmania’s connections with the Franklins and its support of the search for the lost Franklin.
The foundation stone for St Davids Cathedral was laid by Prince Alfred, the Duke of Edinburgh, in 1868. The cathedral was consecrated in 1874.
Walking Tour : 12 Hadley’s Hotel
Hadley’s Hotel and Hobart’s Anglican Cathedral of St David, on opposite sides of Murray Street, mark a major episode in the history of Antarctica: the race to the South Pole and the deaths of Robert Scott and his polar party in 1912.
On his return from the Pole in early March 1912, Amundsen booked into a room at Hadleys (the ‘Amundsen Suite’, Rooms 201 and 202). Hadleys had also accommodated Carsten Borchgrevink and his men before their departure for Antarctica in 1898.
Amundsen may not have looked at his best when he arrived at Hadleys. He noted in his diary that he was given a miserable room and treated like a tramp. Things changed after news got out of his success, and he was able to entertain his men to a Hadleys ‘Christmas’ dinner – they’d missed the real Christmas because they’d been returning from the Pole.
Hadleys was built by convict labour and opened in 1849. During the 1850s the area was popular with the sailors of the whaling ships that anchored in the harbour. The hotel took its name from J.C.Hadley, who became its owner in 1881.
Walking Tour : 13 Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR)
CCAMLR, based in Hobart at 181 Macquarie Street, is responsible for conserving marine life in the Southern Ocean and for ensuring that any harvesting is done on a sustainable basis.
This international organisation was established in Hobart in 1982 under the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, negotiated by the Antarctic Treaty countries. It is a unique legal instrument which aims to ensure Southern Ocean fisheries are managed so as to minimize any harmful effects of fishing and to avoid irreversible damage to Southern Ocean and Antarctic marine ecosystems. The Convention encourages member nations, including Australia, to undertake research into sustainable management of the fisheries.
Thirty-one countries have signed the convention with twenty-four being Members of the Commission which administers the convention. CCAMLR and its associated institutions meet every year at its Headquarters to discuss strategies and measures to ensure that the Convention’s objectives are met.
Walking Tour : 14 State Library of Tasmania
Tasmania’s State Library at 91 Murray Street possesses a wealth of material on Antarctica and the Southern Ocean.
The library’s Allport Collection contains some wonderful material – paintings, photographs, silver and ceramic ware and rare books – from Dumont D’Urville’s French Antarctic Expedition of 1837 to 1840, from the collection of Henry Allport. Much of the collection can be viewed online at statelibrary.tas.gov.au. The Allport Library is open on business days and on the last Saturday of each month.
The Crowther and Tasmaniana Libraries both have excellent material on Tasmanian-based sealing, whaling and Antarctic expeditions, including books, manuscripts, maps, photographs, artworks and objects. The Crowther collection is named after Tasmanian surgeon, politician and shipowner Dr William Crowther (1817-1885), and is open on business days.
Walking Tour : 15 Archives Office of Tasmania
At 77 Murray Street is the Archives office of Tasmania. This fine repository of information about Tasmania’s past has a large collection of Antarctic information and images.
Walking Tour : 16 Watermans Dock
In an era before air transport, the port of Hobart was the city’s ‘gateway to the world’ including Antarctic and subantarctic regions.
Waterman’s Dock was a hub of port activity from the mid-19th century for many decades. Here, goods and passengers ferried to and from larger vessels moored in the Derwent River were loaded and landed.
When the Dock was built in 1854, people, timber and food were being shipped every week out of Hobart to gold rushes in mainland Australia and California, so it quickly became a centre of city life.Today it is a reminder of the city’s strong and enduring economic links with the Antarctic and Southern Ocean.
Walking Tour : 17 Salamanca Place
From the 1820s Hobart’s shipping needs grew quickly as the port became a hub of whale and seal-hunting industries. A row of warehouses, provedoring businesses and hotels was named Salamanca Place after a Spanish city, site of an English victory over Napoleon’s armies.
When the Englishman James Clark Ross and the Frenchman Dumont d’Urville called into Hobart at the halfway point of their long Antarctic voyages, Salamanca Place had begun to take on Hunter Street’s mantle as the centre of shipping commerce in Hobart. Both would have made use of its services in resupplying and refitting their ships for the Antarctic journey ahead.
By the 1840s a new Customs House, designed by the convict architect John Lee Archer, was built towards the northern end of Salamanca Place. In 1856 this was transformed into Tasmania’s Parliament House.
Walking Tour : 18 Semaphore station and signalman’s cottage
As harbours go, Hobart’s is about as good as it gets – sheltered, deep and able to take a fleet of ships with room to spare.
At the end of Castray Esplanade is the site of Hobart’s first signalling station part of a system of stations used to communicate with ships and to signal that a vessel was approaching. Signalling was done with flags from 1818 until 1829, when Governor George Arthur introduced a system of large moving arms the tall structure at the front of the cottage.
Antarctic ships – explorers, whalers, sealers heading to and from the Antarctic made use of the semaphore system. It was still in use in the 1890s, and as late as the 1920s flags were still being used to indicate the identity of an incoming ship.
Walking Tour : 19 CSIRO’s Marine Research Division
Just across the road is the Hobart headquarters of CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, which aims to advance Australian climate, marine and earth systems science.
Australia is the custodian of one of the largest marine jurisdictions in the world, an area more than twice that of our land mass. An enormous range of economic and recreational opportunities exist, while the oceans around Australia play a major role in controlling world and regional climate. The atmospheric composition of the Southern Hemisphere and the exchange of gases with the land and sea are important in measuring, modelling and analysing climate change and ozone depletion.
Air samples are extracted from Antarctic ice cores in CSIRO’s Icelab (Ice Core Extraction Laboratory) in Melbourne. The resulting 2000-year records establish historical greenhouse gas concentrations over many hundreds of years.
CSIRO is a major participant in Australia’s Antarctic program. The Marine National Facility – Ocean Research Vessel Southern Surveyor – is managed by CSIRO on behalf of Australia for the use of the entire marine science community, and often works in the Southern Ocean.
Driving Tour : 20 Wireless Institute
At the top of Hobart’s Queen’s Domain is a weatherboard house with a direct historical link to Australia’s own Douglas Mawson – and pride of place in the history of Antarctic communications.
Mawson, one of the great innovators of Antarctic exploration, wanted his Australasian Antarctic Expedition (1911-1914) to be first to use the new wireless technology to communicate between Antarctica and the outside world. He brought radio equipment with him to Hobart – a real novelty for the city at that time – and Australia’s new national government built a radio station and a mast over 50 metres high. It became operational four months after Mawson had set up his main Antarctic base, enabling him to communicate almost instantly from Commonwealth Bay via Macquarie Island to Hobart.
Here you can see the original radio station building. From 1922 the station became a part of a nationwide network used for maritime safety – a vital link for Southern Ocean sailors. At first it was run by Amalgamated Wireless Australasia Limited (or AWA), then after 1946 by the Commonwealth government.
Driving Tour : 21 Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens
A short distance north of Hobart are the wonderful Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens, the second oldest in Australia, founded in 1818 by colonial governor William Sorell.
One of the most exciting and unusual collections at the Gardens is the Australian Antarctic Foundation Subantarctic Plant House. Nestled inside a small, specially constructed building, there is no other collection like it, anywhere in the world. Here, plants from subantarctic islands, and in particular Macquarie Island, are displayed in a climatically controlled environment, where chilly fogs and mists mirror the wet, cold conditions of their island homes.
The Gardens also houses a striking monument to French exploration of the southern oceans. Created in 1972 by Tasmanian sculptor Stephen Walker, the French Memorial Fountain is surrounded by gardens containing Tasmanian species such as those that would have been encountered by early botanists and voyagers who visited Van Diemens Land.
The Gardens also feature collections of Tasmanian plants, which include examples of tree ferns, deciduous beech, sassafrass and scoparia which are all direct botanical connections to the ancient supercontinent of Gondwana.
Next door to the Botanical Gardens is Tasmania’s Government House. Just within the Government House grounds (not open to the public) are the remains of ‘Rossbank’, the sandstone magnetic observatory built in 1840 by Sir John Franklin’s government and men from the visiting British Antarctic Expedition of 1839-1843 led by James Clark Ross.
Driving Tour : 22 Cornelian Bay Cemetery
A short drive north of the city (along the Brooker Highway, turn right at Risdon Road and right again on to Queens Walk) brings you to Hobart’s main cemetery at Cornelian Bay, a place with a special connection to French Antarctic history.
The vessels of Dumont d’Urville’s French Antarctic Expedition of 1837-1840, Astrolabe and Zélée, anchored in the Derwent in December 1839 mid-way through their circumnavigation of Antarctica. But the expedition was plagued with scurvy and dysentery. Around the time the ships were in Hobart, 29 members of the expedition died and were buried in the Roman Catholic Cemetery. When that was closed the remains were transferred to Cornelian Bay.
Dumont d’Urville’s discovery of Antarctic land in 1840 was the start of a long association between Hobart and France, which claimed Adélie Land as its territory and set up a base there after World War II, serviced out of Hobart. In the late 1940s French Antarctic expeditioners built a marble edifice over the sailors’ remains at Cornelian Bay, listing the men’s names. Nearby a commemorative rose garden is maintained.
Driving Tour : 23 Ancanthe
From 1837 until 1843, the polar explorer Sir John Franklin was lieutenant-governor of Van Diemens Land. He was resident in Hobart during the visits of major French and British scientific expeditions, led respectively by Dumont d’Urville and James Clark Ross. Franklin and his wife Jane contributed much to Hobart cultural and intellectual life, founding the Tasmanian Natural History Society, basis of the later Royal Society.
When the Franklins left Van Diemens Land, Franklin led a naval expedition to the Canadian Arctic seeking the fabled ‘North-West Passage’ from Europe to the Pacific. He died in 1847 with all his men after his ships – the same Erebus and Terror that his friend Ross had brought to Hobart – became trapped in ice. His body was never found.
A symbol of the Franklins’ support for science is a miniature ‘temple’ (now an art gallery) in Lenah Valley, a northern suburb a short drive north of the city, at the junction of Brushy Creek and Lenah Valley Roads. ‘Ancanthe’ was built by Jane Franklin in 1842-43 to be a centre for science and learning.
Driving Tour : 24 Derwent Sailing Squadron
A few kilometres south of the city, at Marieville Esplanade, Sandy Bay, is the Derwent Sailing Squadron. The club, founded in 1906, organises a year-round racing program and training courses, as well as cruising and social events.
In March 1912 the club felt it should honour Roald Amundsen, who was then in the city on his return from the South Pole. The club elected Amundsen as an honorary member of the DSS, and received a letter of thanks from Amundsen. It is possible to view the letter by contacting the club Secretary on telephone 6223 1977.
Driving Tour : 25 Antarctic Research Centre
On the slopes above the DSS, at the University of Tasmania, you will see the distinctively designed Centenary Building. The Centenary Building hosts a number of related Antarctic and Southern Ocean research and education institutions and related programs.
The Institute of Antarctic and Southern Ocean Studies is a national centre for post-graduate teaching and research aiming to promote scientific and other studies concerned with regions south of Australia.
Here you will also find one of the world’s largest research Centres on polar regions – the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre. The ACE CRC provides a focus for Australia’s national effort to understand the variability of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean and their role in Australia’s future. The ACE CRC is a partnership dedicated to sustainable management of Antarctic marine ecosystem resources and the study of atmospheric and oceanic processes of the Southern Ocean and their role in global and regional climate change.
Driving Tour : 26 Fern Tree
Hobart’s mountain suburb of Fern Tree features cool, shaded walks up and around the slopes of Mount Wellington – and botanical evidence of our ancient links with Antarctica. For millions of years Australia was joined to Antarctica as part of a supercontinent which also included South America, Africa, India and New Zealand. Tasmania was then joined to what is now north Victoria Land in Antarctica.
Fern Tree’s Pipeline and Fern Glade tracks offer comfortable walks allowing access to Tasmanian rainforest species, including tree-ferns, myrtles, sassafras and scoparia, which are direct botanical connections to the ancient supercontinent of Gondwana. Related species are found in South America and on the South Island of New Zealand – powerful evidence of the Gondwana link.
Originally a coach stop on the road to Huonville, Fern Tree is a good starting point for walking to ‘The Springs’ or to Mount Wellington’s pinnacle. Its plants were of great interest to Charles Darwin, author of The Origin of Species, who walked to the summit when his ship Beagle called at Hobart in 1836.
Driving Tour : 27 Mount Wellington
From Fern Tree, you can drive all the way to the summit of Mount Wellington, a potent reminder of Australia’s ancient connection to Antarctica. Mount Wellington’s hard dolerite rocks, best seen in the spectacular cliffs of the ‘Organ Pipes’, provide the clearest geological evidence of the mountain’s Gondwana connection. Similar rocks are found in Antarctica’s north Victoria Land, but are rare elsewhere in Australia.
The view from the mountain summit has been admired by many visitors to Hobart. George Bass was the first European to climb the mountain in 1798. Men from Dumont d’Urville’s Antarctic expedition thought it the finest view they had ever seen. Others to climb the mountain included Charles Darwin, Carsten Borchgrevink and Sir Douglas Mawson.
Darwin, author of the theory of natural selection, climbed the mountain in February 1836 during a voyage around the world aboard the ship Beagle. The rocks and fossils he collected here are now held by Cambridge University in England.
As you admire the view to the south, remember that the closest land in that direction is Antarctica!
Driving Tour : 28 Australian Antarctic Division
At Kingston, 16 kilometres south of Hobart, is the home of the Australian government agency that administers Australian Antarctic Territory and subantarctic Heard and Macdonald Islands, along with the Australian research program for Antarctica and the Southern Ocean.
Inside the front entrance of the Australian Antarctic Division’s headquarters is an Antarctic exhibition featuring some spectacular photography explaining the Australian Antarctic research program. A library and a cafeteria are open to public visitors on weekdays.
The first Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions (ANARE) left Melbourne for Heard and Macquarie Islands in the summer of 1947-48. In 1949 Dr Phillip Law was appointed the first permanent director of the Australian Antarctic Division (and head of ANARE). In 1954 Australia’s first Antarctic station, Mawson, was established, followed by Davis in 1957. In 1959 Australia took over the United States Wilkes base, which was transferred to nearby Casey in 1969.
In 1980 the headquarters of Australia’s Antarctic program moved from Melbourne to Hobart, the start of a concentration in Hobart of Antarctic research, logistics and policy development that continues to this day.
Driving Tour : 29 Bruny Island (Adventure Bay)
The Dutch explorer Abel Tasman charted the eastern coast of Bruny Island in 1642, and in 1773 Tobias Furneux gave the name ‘Adventure’, after his ship, to the wide bay that nearly cuts the island in two. Furneaux was part of James Cook’s great Antarctic voyage of 1772-1775. Furneaux, and also Cook when he landed there four years later, met with the Nuenonne Aboriginal people, a band of the South East tribe. The best-known Tasmanian aboriginal, Trugannini (1812-1876) was of the Nuenonne people.
The Bligh Museum of Pacific Exploration at Adventure Bay has a comprehensive collection of memorabilia, books, documents, letters, maps, paintings and photographs related to Southern Ocean and Antarctic exploration. The museum is built from bricks made near the Variety Bay pilot station, North Bruny, for the Anglican church there.
The Cape Bruny lighthouse is also well worth a visit, built by convicts in the 1830s to guide vessels entering D’Entrecasteaux Channel from the stormy Southern Ocean. Until its recent automation this was the oldest continuously manned lighthouse in Australia.
Driving Tour : 30 Wooden Boat Centre (Franklin)
The key to Tasmania’s connection to the Southern Ocean and Antarctica was more than a southerly latitude and a deep-water port. It was vital that we had the right timbers for boat building and also the shipwrights to craft those vessels. Tasmania had both.
From the 1840s ships were built at Shipwrights Point near Port Huon and then a little later further up the Huon River here at Franklin. Ships of all types were built here: four-masted schooners that plied the London route as well as tiny dinghies and punts.
Much of the Tasmanian shipwright’s trade in the early years was devoted to vessels for whaling and sealing in subantarctic and Antarctic waters, and most of these were built in the Huon.
The Wooden Boat Centre, Australia’s only school for boat-building, can be found at Franklin on the Huon river, about 40 minutes drive from Hobart. At the centre, open every day from 9.30 am to 5 pm, visitors can see history come alive in the form of students creating traditional wooden boats.
James Clark Ross (1800 – 1862)
James Clark Ross (1800-1862) led one of the most successful of all Antarctic exploring expeditions.
In 1840 he sailed his two ships, Erebus and Terror, south from Hobart into an area that a previous explorer, John Balleny, had signalled as a promising way through pack ice. Penetrating the ice, he was astonished to find clear water, a magnificent range of mountains, including a smoking volcano that he named Mount Erebus, and an enormous barrier of ice that became known as the Ross Ice Shelf. Sixty years later the Ross Sea region became a centre of Antarctic land exploration.
Douglas Mawson (1882 – 1958)
Douglas Mawson was born in Yorkshire but came to Australia with his parents at the age of two. He developed an outstanding scientific talent in studying the geology of Australia and Pacific lands.
In 1908 he was recruited by Ernest Shackleton for the Nimrod Antarctic expedition, in which he was in the party that first located the South Magnetic Pole. In 1911 he led the outstandingly successful Australasian Antarctic Expedition, which explored large areas of East Antarctica. During that time he was the sole survivor of a horrific sledge journey in which his two companions died.
From 1929 Mawson led a two-year joint Australian, British and New Zealand expedition to explore the Southern Ocean and the coast of East Antarctica.
Carsten Borchgrevink (1864 – 1934)
Carsten Borchgrevink, like Amundsen, was born in Norway, but had made his home in Australia when recruited by Henryk Bull, a Norwegian-born, Melbourne-based businessman, for an Antarctic expedition in 1895 which made the first landing on East Antarctica.
Determined to return, Borchgrevink won substantial financial support from a British businessman to lead a ‘British Antarctic Expedition’ to the Ross Sea region. His party, which included the Tasmanian scientist Louis Bernacchi, set up a base at Cape Adare in 1899-1900 to become the first party to spend winter on the Antarctic mainland.
On the return journey Borchgrevink and two companions reached a ‘farthest south’ of 78°50’ on the Ross Ice Shelf before returning via New Zealand to Hobart.
Jules Sebastian Cesar Dumont d’Urville (1790 – 1842)
Jules Sébastian César Dumont d’Urville was an accomplished naval captain, linguist and botanist when he won approval for a new French Antarctic expedition in 1837. His intellect and curiosity would be a driving force behind an outstandingly successful scientific expedition to the Antarctic Peninsula and Antarctic regions south of Tasmania.
Between visits to Hobart he discovered a part of Antarctica he named Adélie Land, after his wife. While in the pack-ice he met a ship of the United States Exploring Expedition under Charles Wilkes. In Hobart in 1839 and 1840, Dumont d’Urville was an honoured guest of fellow-explorer and colonial governor, Sir John Franklin.
James Cook and Tobias Furneaux
Tobias Furneaux (1735 – 1781) was second in command of the great 1772-1775 Antarctic expedition led by James Cook (1728 – 1779) when he visited Adventure Bay and charted the coast of Van Diemens Land early in 1773.
His ship Adventure, after which Furneaux named this Bruny Island bay, had not long before accompanied Cook’s ship Resolution south across the Antarctic Circle – the first ships ever to achieve this feat. Near Heard Island, the two ships had become separated. Furneaux stopped for water at Adventure Bay on his way to a rendezvous with Cook in New Zealand.
Cook was to visit the same spot four years later, on his final, fatal voyage in which he was killed in the Hawaiian Islands.
Louis Charles Bernacchi (1876 – 1942)
Louis Charles Bernacchi, raised and educated in Tasmania, was the first Australian to stand on the Antarctic continent. Physics was Bernacchi’s main interest, and this won him a place in Carsten Borchgrevink’s ‘British Antarctic Expedition’ aboard Southern Cross in 1898. The expedition left Hobart for Cape Adare, where Borchgrevink and his men were first to spend winter ashore in Antarctica.
The achievements of the expedition were not well-appreciated at the time because of the publicity given to Robert Scott’s British National Expedition (the ‘Discovery’ expedition of 1901-1904), in which Bernacchi made his second and final journey to Antarctica. He lived out his life in Britain.
Roald Amundsen (1872 – 1928)
Roald Amundsen has a very special place in Antarctic history. In 1910 he was already an experienced polar explorer, having wintered in Antarctic sea ice in 1898 and led a major Arctic expedition in 1903-1906.
In December 1911, in competition with the large British-funded expedition under Robert Scott, he won the race to be first to the South Geographic Pole by means of meticulous planning and a Norwegian’s innate knowledge of living and working in ice and snow. Arriving at the Bay of Whales, Antarctica, direct from Europe, he used dog teams to travel the direct route, due south across the Ross Ice Shelf and up the Axel Heiberg Glacier, to arrive at the South Pole a month ahead of Scott’s ill-fated party. Unlike Scott, Amundsen survived the polar journey with all his men. He was later to die in an aircraft crash in the Arctic.
Sir John Franklin (1786 – 1847)
From 1837 until 1843, the polar explorer Sir John Franklin was lieutenant-governor of Van Diemens Land. His presence in Hobart during the visits of major French and British scientific expeditions, led respectively by Dumont d’Urville and Ross, guaranteed both men a warm welcome and strong support for their endeavours. Franklin and his wife Jane contributed much to Hobart cultural and intellectual life. With the strong involvement of Jane, Sir John founded the Tasmanian Natural History Society, basis of the later Royal Society, which continues today to support and nurture science in Tasmania. Franklin’s polar connections were to continue. When the Franklins left Van Diemen’s Land, he led a naval expedition to the Canadian Arctic seeking the fabled ‘North-West Passage’ from Europe to the Pacific. He died in 1847 with all his men after his ships – the same Erebus and Terror that his friend Ross had brought to Hobart – became trapped in ice. His body was never found.
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