Our explorers

The period between the late 19th century and the First World War is known as the ‘Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration’. It was named this because of the limited technological resources available to the explorers – every kilometre covered was done so by hard slog and gritted teeth. Nothing came easy to the Antarctic pioneers.

Although reaching the South Pole was a massive focus at this time it was not the only objective. The geographic understanding, specimen collection and scientific data these crews brought to the world was considerable. It was knowledge that would impel and inspire the work of the international scientific community into the 20th century and beyond.

While modern-day Antarctic explorers may not be faced with such danger and sacrifice, the same inspiration, ambition and determination still drives many across the icy continent. There is still much to examine and discover – still so much to care for and protect.

Just as we look to educate and motivate at the International Antarctic Centre so too do we hope the feats of these first explorers will inspire the next generation.

Meet a few of our amazing explorers below:

Shirase Nobu

At age 11, Shirase Nobu would write in a diary of his obsession with the North and South poles. 38 years later he would set off on a journey that would see his exploits written in to the history books.

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Roald Amunsden

Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen set off from an Antarctic base with four men and 52 dogs in his quest to be the first man at the South Pole. His arrival was the culmination of years of dreaming, planning and travelling across the sea and across the ice. At the time his feat would be both lauded and maligned. But he’d beaten Captain Scott by five weeks to the pole and survived to tell his tale.

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Jade Hameister

At the age of 14 her ‘polar quest’ began with a 150 km journey across thin ice to the North Pole. Then came a 550 km traverse of the Greenland icecap. By the age of 16 she had trekked 600 km from the Ross Ice Shelf to the South Pole. For Australian teenager Jade Hameister such epic journeys are just the beginning.

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Robert Falcon Scott

The final journey of Robert Falcon Scott to the South Pole represented the epic courage and steely resolve needed to take on Antarctica – and the stakes to be paid for those who failed. After his first campaign on the Discovery came close to the southernmost point the British captain led a team on an epic 800 mile trek through the worst conditions the planet could throw at them. He made his destination, only to discover the most disheartening news upon arrival…

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Ernest Shackleton

Subsequent books have ensured the Shackleton name is forever associated with the sheer will and superhuman fortitude needed to travel into the Antarctic and survive. The British explorer led three separate expeditions to the ice, facing incredible odds and undertaking the most testing of journeys across land, sea and ice. While his plans were often thwarted it is the way in which he overcame such challenges that continues to inspire the next generation of explorers.

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Douglas Mawson

Mawson was more than a man devoted to scientific exploration; he was also the hero of one of the Antarctic’s most extraordinary tales of lone survival.

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Rear Admiral Eichard E. Byrd

He was many things: esteemed pilot, Medal Of Honor winner, Arctic pioneer, logistical expert. However Byrd’s legacy is most known for efforts exploring the Antarctic.

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