Borchgrevink’s hut at Cape Adare is notable for not only its important role it played in the discovery of Antarctica but also because it is the only example left of humanity’s first building on any continent. In 1899, the Antarctic explorer Borchgrevink landed at Cape Adare with the intention of being the first group of explorers to winter-over in Antarctica (Southern Cross Expedition in 1898 - 1900). The expedition’s equipment included two huts of Norwegian spruce with one building for accommodation measuring 6.5 x 5.5m and another for holding supplies measuring 5.5 square metres.
Southern Cross Expedition (1898 - 1900)
The Antarctic expedition landed with 75 Siberian dogs, two tonnes of dehydrated food, a tonne of butter, a collection of guns including 12 gauge paradox’s and .450 calibre Martini-Henry rifles, ammunition and 500 miniature Union Jacks for the purpose of surveying and extending the British Empire. The huts were constructed of interlocking boards that were made tight with steel tie rods while the roof of each hut was covered with seal skins weighed down by bags of coal and boulders. The living quarters had a double floor and walls insulated with papier mache with sliding panels and curtains giving the men some form of privacy. The hut had double-glazed windows with an exterior shutter to keep the warmth in. For lighting the crew borrowed a saloon lamp from the ship.
The smaller hut was used to store medical supplies, provisions and surplus clothing. Eventually however this hut became a private study for Borchgrevink. The small hut had another two small rooms off an entrance porch that were used as a photographic darkroom and storage room for instruments. The two buildings were connected with a roof line that extended to the ground with sails and seal skins giving extra storage space and protection from the wind. In the summer, Borchgrevink proposed to take the huts, provisions and party to either Coulman Island or Cape Gauss and from there, after the winter of 1900, sledge to the South Magnetic Pole. A start was made in dismantling the hut however work stopped and the party departed on 2 February 1900 south to the edge of the Ross Ice Shelf before returning to Stewart Island, New Zealand.
Carsten Egeberg Borchgrevink
Carsten Egeberg Borchgrevink (1864 – 1934) was a pioneer of modern Antarctic Exploration Cruises. He was the precursor of Scott, Shackleton, Amundsen and other famous names associated with the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration. In 1898–1900 he led the Southern Cross Expedition, which established a new Farthest South record at 78°50'S.
Borchgrevink's hut remains at Cape Adare, under the care of The Antarctic Heritage Trust. Borchgrevink’s hut was designated by the Trust as Antarctic Specially Protected Area (ASPA) in 2002.