While Antarctica is famous for its incredible wildlife; from penguins and albatrosses to seals and whales, there’s definitely more to discover on this continent. Here’s a list of our top 3 must see historic sites in Antarctica…
Port Lockroy, Base A, Goudier Island (64º49’S, 63º30’W)
Discovered in 1904, Port Lockroy Base A is located on the east side of the harbour on Goudier Island; a small low-lying rocky island surrounded by fast ice in winter.
Built in February 1944 as part of a wartime mission, Operation Tabarin; Base A was the first British permanent base on the Antarctic Peninsula. After WWII Base A became a science base and continued to be a research station up until 1962.
Labelled an historic site in 1994 and opened to the Antarctic tourism industry in 1996, Today, Port Lockroy is managed by the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust. The Port now operates as a museum as well as gift shop for visitors from passing Antarctic expeditions. Additionally, one of many highlights is the “Penguin Post office”, the world’s most southern Post Office.
Mawson’s Huts, Cape Denison
In the far eastern sector of the Australian Antarctic Territory at Cape Denison in Commonwealth Bay, you can find Mawson’s Huts.
In 1911 when geologist and explorer Sir Douglas Mawson and his team arrived in Cape Denison, they built five simple wooden huts that became Australia’s first base for scientific and geographical discovery in Antarctica. Led by Mawson, the Australasian Antarctic Expedition (AAE) of 1911 to 1914 was the first large-scale scientific inquiry after Federation.
Mawson’s Huts are one of only six complexes from the Heroic Era (1897 -1917) to have remained intact. The place is strongly reminiscent of Mawson and his team’s endeavours as well as others in one of Earth’s harshest climates.
A part of Antarctica and Australia’s history, Mawson’s Huts exude a legacy of one of Australia’s greatest explorers and his voyages across Antarctica.
Whalers Bay, Deception Island
Situated in the South Shetland Islands archipelago, Whalers Bay is a sheltered harbour in Deception Island. The island features a characteristic horseshoe shape, created by the sunken caldera of an active volcano.
First used by British and American sealers, the Deception Island harbour served as a hunting base for fur seals. As fur seal populations declined in the South Shetlands, the sealers were replaced by whalers who began arriving in the early 1900s. Like the sealers, they used the bay as safe place to process the whales. By 1912, the Norwegian Hektor Whaling Company established a permanent land station in order to process the whales more efficiently. The whaling station closed and became abandoned in 1931.
In 1944, Operation Tabarin established its Base B at Whalers Bay. Base B operated as a research station primarily focusing on the study of meteorology and geology. From 1955-57, it acted as the centre for the Falkland Islands Dependencies Aerial Survey Expedition (FIDASE). It was abandoned in 1967 after it was destroyed by ash flows during a volcanic eruption
Today, some buildings remain; The Norwegian Hektor whaling station as well as some of the old British buildings. Buildings and artefacts on the shore of Whalers Bay, from 1906-31 are some of the most significant whaling remains in Antarctica. So, Whalers Bay is now an Antarctic Specially Protected Area (ASPA) managed by several nations.
Antarctica, while offering some of the world’s most amazing wildlife, is home to so much more. In particular, a rich history and long lasting legacy of explorers from all around the world that endured the severe weather to further scientific discovery in the coldest continent in the world.