SOUTH LATITUDE RESEARCH LTD. Introduction
Cape Adareis the nearest part of the Antarctic continent to New Zealand. Here some of the strongest winds in Antarctica have been recorded. It is also the location of the first wintering by an expedition on the continent.
Equipment and personnel for the expedition
The ten-man Southern Cross expedition was the first to intentionally winter-over on the Antarctic continent. It was well supplied with de- hydrated food, the first primus stoves and it took the first sledge dogs to Antarctica.
Arrival at Cape Adare
In 1895 Borchgrevink, the leader of the expedition, was a member of the landing party from the whaling ship Antarctic. He later decided on Cape Adare as a location to winter-over and after being held up by pack ice for two weeks, The Southern Cross reached Cape Adare in stormy weather, in mid february 1899.
The first buildings on the continent
Landing operations began the morning after arrival and took ten days to complete. On a beach ridge just four metres above sea level, two pre-fabricated huts, the first buildings to be erected on the Antarctic continent, were built.
Life at Camp Ridley
In winter when the sea froze, sledging trips were made over the sea ice and a small rock "hut" was built on Duke of York Island near the head of Robertson Bay. On Ridley Beach, zoological specimens were collected and detailed observations were made in magnetism and meteorology. A fire nearly burnt the hut down.
First burial on the continent
The expedition suffered a major set back with the death in october of the zoologist. Hanson became the first person to be buried on the continent and his grave is on the summit of Cape Adare, over 300 metres above Ridley beach.
Departure of the expedition
A second wintering was contemplated and one hut was partly dismantled but the scheme was abandoned at the last minute. Leaving the huts and a quantity of supplies, the expedition steamed south into the Ross Sea where landings were made on islands and a short sledging trip was made over the Ross Ice Shelf.
Results of the expedition
In England, Borchgrevink received a poor reception and the scientific accomplishments did not earn the credit they deserved. Attention was now focused on Scott's first expedition.
What of Borchgrevink and the Southern Cross ?
Borchgrevink subsequently travelled lecturing and books published included two on the expedition and others on the scientific collections and data. The Southern Cross returned to sealing and was lost off Newfoundland in 1914.
Later visitors to Ridley Beach
In 1911, the Northern Party of Scott's second expedition wintered, on Ridley Beach. Since then, four summer field parties have camped here and in recent years the locality has been on the itinerary of tourist ships. Borchgrevink's 'living hut' was restored by the Antarctic Heritage Trust in 1990 and artefacts were removed to New Zealand for conservation.
Two books published soon after the expedition are well worth reading. Papers have also been published in journals and short articles have appeared in the Trust's book "ICY HERITAGE" (1995) and in other books and popular magazines. The most recent book is, "That First Antarctic Winter". Compiled for the unpublished diaries of physicist Louis Bernacchi by his grand-daughter Janet Crawford, the book is available from South Latitude Research Ltd.
(C) David Harrowfield