583 Press Release

CANBERRA, 21 December 1947

AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL ANTARCTIC RESEARCH EXPEDITION

Statement by the Acting Prime Minister and Minister for External Affairs (Dr. H. V. Evatt)

Messages received from Heard Island indicate that steady progress is being made in establishing the base there. The primary object of the visit of the Australian Naval Craft to Heard Island was to land a party of fourteen to establish a weather and scientific research station. The full party would remain for twelve months.

Preliminary coastal and aerial surveys suggested that Spit Bay situated in the south easterly section of the Island was the most suitable place for landing but it was later found that it was unsatisfactory owing to a constant heavy swell. Landing troubles were expected owing to the rough terrain and the lack of detailed nautical information about the coast line.

Landing operations began at Atlas Cove on the north western corner of the Island on Monday 15th December but were temporarily abandoned owing to bad weather and L.S.T. 3501 had to put to sea and ride a heavy north easterly gale. Latest messages sent on 18th December indicated that landing operations were carried out on the 17th and 18th December although difficulties were experienced owing to the rocky nature of the beach and the lack of shelter from winds. Altogether 100 tons of stores including a bulldozer and generating equipment have been landed. An effort is being made to build a stone jetty with the bulldozer.

It is intended to establish a permanent camp in approximately lat 53( 5 mins. south and long- 73( 22 mins. east on the opposite side of the Cove to the beaching point. It is expected, however, that stores can be transferred by tractor.

The Government has sent its congratulations to all concerned by succeeding in what was known from the outset to be a most dangerous and difficult task.

[AA : A1068, A47/26/30]