Oral History Interview – Martin Betts parts 1 and 2

Interview by: Ingrid McGaughey
Compiled and edited by Alan Ryan

Martin Betts (Photo Murray Price)


An Oral History – on Vimeo

Part 1

Part 2

This is a series of 2 interviews Martin Betts conducted by Ingrid McGaughey.

Part 1: https://vimeo.com/594037225

Part 2: https://vimeo.com/594045151

Martin Stephen Betts — Antarctic Medal recipient 1988

Martin Betts has spent two winters in the Antarctic with ANARE, and has been the Leader or Deputy Leader on eight re-supply voyages, and has given over ten years of full-time service to the Antarctic Division, in which time he has shown considerable initiative in introducing and developing manuals such as First Aid, Operations, Field and Equipment manuals.

Martin has made a significant contribution to the Antarctic Division’s increased professionalism with his competence, energy and dedication to the cause of Antarctic science.

Martin Betts retires from the Australian Antarctic Division

With the recent departure of Martin Betts the Australian Antarctic Division farewelled one of its longest serving staff members. When he left on 2 May 2001, he reached another milestone in what is to date a 33-year association with the ANARE.

Martin’s Antarctic career began in 1968 when he arrived on Macquarie Island as an observer with the Bureau of Meteorology for the first of his two Antarctic winters. After spending 1969 on the Island he headed further south to winter at Mawson in 1971. By this time the ice was well and truly in his blood and calling him back for more.

His prominence in the life of ANARE became established in 1974 as editor of Aurora, the journal of the ANARE Club — a position he held until 1981. During this period he secured a permanent appointment in 1977 at the Australian Antarctic Division as the Publications Officer. As media spokesperson and editor he was instrumental in developing the public profile of the expeditions and, in 1981, further consolidated his role in public affairs with promotion to the position now known as Information Services Manager. In May that year he produced the inaugural issue of ANARE News, the forerunner of Australian Antarctic Magazine.

Martin’s next substantial career move was in 1986 to the position of ANARE Coordinator, head of the then new planning group which, among other things, integrated the planning of the scientific work of the Australian program, coordinated development of the shipping schedules and administered the ASAC Research Grants scheme.

From 1996 until he left the AAD, Martin was a senior policy officer and took the lead in developing relationships with non-government operators in the Antarctic and in ensuring that environmental and other obligations were fully implemented by private visitors to the Antarctic. He was also responsible for providing advice on the growth of the tourism and adventure markets, and established the bi-weekly internet newsletter ANAN which reports to a world-wide audience on non-government activity in Antarctica.

Along with these sustained contributions to ANARE and the AAD, Martin’s great passion was the Antarctic itself and opportunities for personal involvement in expedition work. Between 1977 and 2001, Martin was Leader on 12 voyages and Deputy Leader on five. He was also a Field Leader on four occasions, and made other visits to the Antarctic including on Macquarie Island airdrops and as an observer on tourist over flights. There are few places in the Australian area of Antarctic interests that he has not seen at first hand. In 1988 Martin was awarded the Australian Antarctic Medal in recognition of his contribution in Antarctica.

The reader will note that there has been no reference to his retirement. Ice still runs in Martin’s veins. While he has left to pursue his interests in farming beef cattle, he is maintaining strong links with Antarctica and the AAD. In his ‘retirement’ he continues to assist the AAD by researching and writing material for ANAN, and has recently been contracted to be Leader on Aurora Australis for its October voyage to Macquarie Island and Casey.