20 Dec 2013

Mawson's huts reached by expedition

6:00 am on 20 December 2013

Two Australian explorers have crossed sea ice to reach Mawson's huts in Antarctica, which have been inaccessible for several years.

Conservator Ian Godfrey and heritage carpenter Jon Tucker navigated 70km of sea ice on an amphibious vehicle to reach the huts.

AAP reports their visit was part of an expedition of nearly 30 scientists and others to commemorate the centenary of Douglas Mawson's exploration of the Cape Denison area.

The Mawson's Huts Foundation says this is the first time it has attempted such an ambitious and potentially hazardous crossing of the ice.

It was a joint operation between the foundation and the Australian Antarctic Division.

The huts on Cape Denison were inaccessible because an iceberg about the size of the ACT blocked the entrance to the bay.

Dr Godfrey said he was hopeful the success of this mission meant the Mawson's Huts Foundation could resume annual visits.

Expedition manager Rob Easther said several other scientists had planned to also journey to the huts to conduct many of the experiments carried out there by Mawson's Australasian Antarctic expedition in 1911-14.

However, AAP reports weather conditions mean it's likely the expedition will have to leave the area sooner than hoped.