Mawson's Huts Replica Museum

Hobart, Tasmania

Douglas Mawson was an Australian scientist and Antarctic explorer, he led a major expedition to Antarctica that left in December 1911. The departure point of this expedition was Hobart, Douglas Mawson was happy to embrace the technology of the time and included a photographer on the expedition. There are still photos as well as film footage preserved and much is displayed in this museum.

The expedition landed in Commonwealth Bay in January 1912 and set about establishing their base on Cape Denison which ended up being the windiest place on earth! The museum has a soundtrack of howling wind, I get irritated by windy days at the best of time, I wouldn't have been able to cope, never mind the cold, the constant sound of the wind would have been unbearable! I even found the museum wind soundtrack barely tolerable!

Several huts were built but the main one at Cape Denison called 'Main Base Hut' is the one that has been replicated for the museum. The original still stands at Cape Denison and the Mawson's Huts Foundation leads expeditions to Antarctica to work on preserving it.

The museum is really informative, I learnt a lot about the other members of the expedition and the replica part of the rooms was well done, it really gave a sense of the living conditions in the main hut. It was a lot bigger than I had imagined.

As the expedition leader Mawson had his own room and it seems his own entertainment unit!

Bunk beds for the other members of the expedition, thanks to the photos that were taken during the expedition it's been possible to recreate as closely as possible what the hut actually looked like.

The kitchen part of the hut, ignoring the modern technology belonging to the museum guides, the iPad!

Mawson settled in Adelaide and he was a professor of geology at the University of Adelaide. Many of the items from the Australiasian Antarctic Expedition of 1911 to 1914 ended up being donated to the South Australian Museum. After seeing the replica hut museum I was inspired to go along to the SA Museum to look at the Polar exhibition there.

The items are also exhibited in hut like surroundings, just with low light to preserve them. 

Mawson's workroom, with his typewriter, all behind glass so makes for annoying shadows when taking photos!

The radio equipment that was taken on the expedition, a relay station was first set up on Macquarie Island and a small party was left there to relay the messages from the main base at Cape Denison to Hobart.

Mawson's sled.

Mawson's balaclava (ski mask) made from wool, in remarkably good condition still! A photo of him wearing the balaclava was used on the original Australian $100 note, the paper one, the new plastic note has different pictures on it.

The Replica Hut museum is very well done, and an interesting way to learn about Australia's polar history. Hobart is the Australian city that continues to have the strongest connection to Antarctica and is still the main base for travel to Antarctica.