The face of the Earth at the end of the world

Fragments of Gondwanaland

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  • Published 20220503
  • ISBN: 978-1-922212-74-0
  • Extent: 264pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm), eBook

ONE SUMMER IN the late 1950s, a red-­hulled icebreaking ship of the Danish Lauritzen line, under charter with the Australian Antarctic Division, was loaded with a metre-­long glacial boulder at the vast icy continent’s rocky edge. This rock was transported across the tempestuous Southern Ocean and part-­way up the Yarra River before the ship discharged its cargo in Melbourne, where the boulder would find its new home. It became a monument in the grounds of the Royal Society of Victoria building. Unveiled on 7 December 1959, it commemorates ‘the completion of one hundred years of endeavour by the Society in its work for the advancement of science, and to mark its special interest in Antarctic exploration and research’. Six days beforehand, the Antarctic Treaty had been signed by twelve nations in Washington, DC. The treaty was intended to bring peace to the continent and demilitarise the region at the height of Cold War tensions. It advanced the shared international endeavour of science as the key activity for the region.

The Royal Society of Victoria had aspired to send a scientific expedition to the planet’s unknown Antarctic regions in the 1880s, hoping to gain knowledge both pure and useful to advance the colony of Victoria. But this early dream of Australian-­Antarctic and southern continental connections remained unfulfilled until 1947, when the Commonwealth Government established an Antarctic Division, with its headquarters in Melbourne.

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About the author

Alessandro Antonello

Alessandro Antonello is a historian at Flinders University, Adelaide. His research investigates environmental and international histories of Antarctica, the global cryosphere, and oceans. His book The...

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