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The Amundsen Centenary and Huskies Picnic - 11 March 2012

In 1911 and 1912, an exciting and dangerous game was played out in Antarctica, when the Norwegian polar explorer Roald Amundsen and the British explorer Robert Falcon Scott raced against each other to be first to reach the geographic South Pole. Scott arrived at the South Pole in January 1912, to find the Norwegian had been there before him. Amundsen won the race by 35 days, using superior skills and equipment adapted from exploring the Northwest Passage in the remote northern wastes of the Arctic Ocean. Amundsen returned to Hobart, Tasmania on March 7, 1912 and anchored his ship Fram in the Derwent River. He ordered his crew to remain aboard while he went ashore first, proceeding directly to the General Post Office to send a telegram to the young King Haakon VII of Norway.

This duty done, he announced to the world that he had won the ‘Race to the Pole’ and had planted the Norwegian flag there, beating his rival Scott. During the Antarctic Centennial Year, we will re-enact this historic event on the steps of the Hobart GPO, complete with dogs, period clothing and actors in the roles of Amundsen and his crew. The well-known Australian broadcaster Tim Bowden will visit Hobart to mark the event – his grandfather was the telegraph clerk who received the message and transmitted it.

The Norwegian connection – Roald Amundsen was not the only Norwegian connected with Australia. Carsten Borchgrevink also became an Antarctic legend. He was born in Oslo, emigrated to Australia at the age of 24 and joined an Antarctic expedition financed by another Norwegian-Australian, Henryk Bull. In 1894, these two were with the small party who first set foot on the continent of Antarctica. Later, in 1899, Borchgrevink led the Southern Cross Expedition – the first to winter over in Antarctica and the first to bring dogs with them.

To celebrate this centenary a Family Fun picnic day has been arranged, commencing at 11.00am.

11.00am - Husky sled dogs muster at Elizabeth Street Pier for a run up Elizabeth Street.

11.30am - Re-enactment of Roald Amundsen's 1912 announcement that he had reached the South Pole, on the steps of the Hobart GPO. Special guests Tim Bowden, with commentary by Ric Paterson.

12.00pm - Husky dogs travel to St David's Park, via Macquarie Street, Murray Street and Davey Street.

12.00pm - 4.00pm - Family friendly activities in St David's Park, including Antarctic displays, working dogs, children's amusement rides, food and drink, Amundsen walking tours of Hobart, and the Royal Australian Navy Band - Tasmanian Contingent. (Note: please leave your pets at home)

3.00pm - 5.00pm - Amundsen High Tea at Hadleys Hotel, featuring a talk by local Hobart polar historian John Williamson. To book, contact Hadleys on telephone (03) 6223 4355.

5.00pm - Free public lecture by Amundsen expert Susan Barr, Hadleys. To reserve your place, please call Hadleys on telephone (03) 6223 4355.

 During the centenary celebrations, the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery will also be displaying a special Amundsen exhibition including digitised versions of the original telegrams, archival footage and newspaper prints. 


Come along and enjoy a day of family fun!

This page was last modified on August 5, 2015.