Mawson’s Hut in Miniature

By Rod MacKenzie

I have been involved with my wife Pauline’s hobby of 1/12th scale dolls houses since the late 90’s, helping her in the building and murnishing of a range of houses, mainly in the Tudor or Victorian style.

After being a very ham-fisted beginner, I gradually became more adept at making miniature furniture and other accessories, so much so that Pauline and I attended miniature shows in Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide each year, selling miniature articles we had made. We even went on an overseas tour of the U.K., U.S.A and Russia, meeting up with other miniaturists we had been in contact with on the Internet.

At Christmas 2001 I received as a present that marvellous book “Douglas Mawson” by Lincoln Hall, where there were photographs and information on Mawson’s hut at Commonwealth Bay, built in 1912. It was shortly aftyer that I decided to build a 1/12th replica as authentic as I was able.

My daughter Jenny (Macquarie Island 92, Davis 95) was working for ANARE at the time and sent as a future birthday present the AAA’s Consultant’s report on the conservation and management plan for the Mawson hut. This publication provided a great deal of information regarding the building of the hut.

Mawson’s previous experience in Antarctic weather had given him a firm idea of the pyramid surrounded by enclosed verandas, with food boxes stacked around to help with insulation and to allow for lower wind resistance during blizzards.

The Sydney building firm of George Hudson and Sons who at the time sold prefabricated “ready cut homes” supplied the main 24ft x 24ft building, and the Melbourne Messrs. Anthony provided the smaller 18ft x 16ft building that consequently was constructed as the workshop.

The project provided many challenges both in the construction and in the fitting out. Whilst there were numerous photographs, there were many areas requiring the use of one’s imagination. Pauline was very supportive and provided the bed linen, blankets and pillows. I have to confess that I raided her supply of miniature utensils and tools from time to time.

After some 8 months of enjoyable work the hut stood complete. The question now was “what do we do with it”? I started making enquiries and it seemed that the Antarctic Division would be pleased to have it after some proposed alterations to their buildings at Kingston took place. In the meantime it went on display at the Geelong Maritime Museum, the Sydney Miniature Show, the Melbourne Miniature Show and has been on display at the Australia Post Gallery in Melbourne as part of an Antarctic Philately Exhibition. After this it will find a home at the Queenscliffe Maritime Museum.

From there the model has gone to Hobart where it is a feature of the Islands to Ice exhibition at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Galley