History of Antarctic Exploration in 30 Objects: The Countdown Begins!

As a general rule, I loathe counting down to a big occasion. Following the passing hands of a clock is not something you would naturally associate with keeping people calm. So when Monday arrived it was with some little trepidation. 30 days before the departure of the expedition would the anxiety levels perceptibly rise? Might the general buzz become subdued? Or would someone freak out and start to panic? I needn’t have concerned myself. There was barely a ripple. No one seemed perturbed by the countdown one little bit. Instead, everyone was strangely exhilarated by the start of the week. True, there was the normal chaos planning and ordering last minute items but the realisation we’re now on the home straight had an energising effect.

A Polynesian fishhook dating back to the 14th century from the subantarctic Auckland Islands.
See the real thing at the Southland Museum & Art Gallery, Invercargill, New Zealand.

To mark the fast approaching departure of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition 2013-2014, we’re working with some of the leading museums, art galleries and libraries from around the world – including the Natural History Museum (London), the Mitchell Library (State Library of New South Wales, Sydney) and Canterbury Museum (Christchurch) – to bring you a short History of Antarctic Exploration in 30 Objects. The collection spans hundreds of years, ranging from Polynesian exploration in the subantarctics through to the very latest sledging technology for crossing the snow and ice. The items we have selected are inevitably a very small selection from a vast subject but we hope they will inspire you to learn more about the Antarctic and perhaps even visit this very special place yourself. Remember you can follow us on all manner of social media during the expedition – including numerous Hangouts on Air where we’ll be streaming live film footage and answering your questions from the field – and if you’re really keen you can even buy a berth and join us in the south!

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