Antarctic exploration and academic study

This guide is a curated selection of the University of Melbourne Archive's extensive collections relating to academics who were actively involved with Antarctic exploration and study. Search the catalogue by opening the links provided and refer to finding aids for detailed descriptions of holdings in the collection.

1980.0030.00426  Sledge and dog team, c.1911-1913, Raymond Priestley Lantern Slides Collection (Department of Geology, University of Melbourne)
1980.0030.00426 Sledge and dog team, c.1911-1913, Raymond Priestley Lantern Slides Collection (Department of Geology, University of Melbourne)


Phillip Garth Law was a lecturer in Physics at the University from 1943 to 1948. Following this appointment, he became a leader of the Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions from 1949 to 1966 and then Director of the Antarctic Division, when he established the Mawson, Davis and Casey bases.

Phillip Law collection

Phillip Law - this small collection contains one article titled 'A Future Policy for the Antarctic'. The bulk of Law's papers are held at the National Library of Australia.

The Rotary Club was involved in the lobbying for an Australian National Antarctic Museum in Melbourne between 1984 and 1988. Box 37 contains correspondence, minutes of meetings and material relating to Phillip Law.


The first salaried Vice-Chancellor, Sir Raymond Priestley was the geologist on Ernest Shackleton's (1907-1909) expedition and also on Robert Falcon Scott's ill-fated (1910-1913) expedition. Priestley was later marooned at Terra Nova Bay. He and his companions survived the winter in a small snow cave, living off seal and penguin meat.

To illustrate public lectures he later gave on the subject, Priestley collected glass lantern slides from his expedition and others. Over 1,300 of these slides have survived and have now been digitised and available on the University of Melbourne Archives Image Catalogue. The University of Melbourne Archives has also compiled further background information on the Raymond Priestley Lantern Slides.

1980.0030.00891 Unloading boats, 1907-1913, Raymond Priestley Lantern Slides Collection (Department of Geology, University of Melbourne)
1980.0030.00891 Unloading boats, 1907-1913, Raymond Priestley Lantern Slides Collection (Department of Geology, University of Melbourne)


Sir David Orme Masson was a Professor of Chemistry at the University. In his capacity as President of the Australasian Association for the Advancement of Science (1911-1913) and the Australian National Research Council (1922-1926), he was heavily involved in scientific enquiry in Antarctica. A mountain range and island are named after him.

Sir David Orme Masson collection

David Orme Masson - Masson's collection contains what is thought to be one of Scott's pipes found in his last tent, presented to Masson by Scott's widow. There is also a decanter presented to Masson, commemorating the Australian Antarctic Expedition in 1914.


John Francis Lovering was a Professor of Geology at the University from 1969 to 1987. He was involved in numerous expeditions with the Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions in the 1970s and 1980s.

John Lovering collection

John Lovering - Lovering was Chair of the Australian Antarctic Science Advisory Committee and a member of the Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions in 1978 and 1987. His extensive papers include meeting papers, minutes, correspondence, maps and more.


Loewe was a member of the final Greenland expeditions of Professor Alfred Wegener, the pioneer of continental drift theory. When Wegener perished, Loewe became acting leader of the (1930-1931) expedition. After his dismissal (because he was Jewish) from his public service post in Germany 1934, Loewe briefly worked as a Meteorologist at the Scott Polar Research Institute in England. With the support of Raymond Priestley, he moved to Melbourne in 1937 and founded the University's Meteorology Department in 1939. Following the end of World War Two, Loewe was involved in several Antarctic expeditions, including the failed voyage of the HMAS Wyatt Earp in 1947. He also wintered at Terre Adelie from 1950 to 1951. He was awarded the Polar Medal in 1955. Loewe also revisited Greenland in 1962, 1964 and 1967.

Fritz Loewe collection

The University of Melbourne holds the papers of Fritz Loewe, a Meteorologist who participated in expeditions to both Antarctica and the Arctic. There are extensive papers relating to his Greenland expeditions, the Loewe collection also contains documents from his Antarctic exploration.

Please note: The collection material is in English and German. The records description list will provide the language/s used for each Unit/Box number.


Caro graduated with a B.Sc. and M.Sc. at the University of Melbourne. His course of study interrupted by service in the R.A.A.F. Caro studied in Birmingham with Oliphant and Moon for his Ph.D. In 1952, he became a Lecturer in Physics at Melbourne, rising to occupy the Chair of Experimental Physics in 1961. In 1972, he was the University's first full-time Deputy Vice-Chancellor, leaving to become Vice-Chancellor at the University of Tasmania in 1978. He succeeded Sir David Derham, as Vice-Chancellor at Melbourne in July, 1982.

David Caro collection

Papers of the Antarctic Policy Advisory Committee (of which Caro was chairman) from 1981 to 1985, including minutes, reports, workshop papers and some correspondence from 1979.


Victor Hopper was born in Wales in 1913. He gained a scholarship to attend Neath County School, where he remained until 1927. In that year Hopper emigrated to Australia under the "Little Brother Movement" and a year later continued his school studies at Horsham High School in Victoria. In 1930, Hopper won a teaching scholarship and trained at Melbourne Teachers' College. He attended the University of Melbourne on a part-time basis, while he taught in a succession of schools. He gained his B.Sc. Degree in 1937, embarking on a Masters and later D.Sc. Degree. After winning a series of scholarships, awards and completing his D.Sc., Hopper joined the staff at Melbourne University. He also began to acquire an international reputation as a research physicist. In 1962, Dr Hopper was appointed to the Chair of Physics (RAAF Academy). From 1966 to 1967, he served as Dean of the Science Department. He died in July 2005.

Victor David Hopper collection

Victor David Hopper - boxes 12 and 14 contain papers relating to radio research, the Antarctic Policy Advisory Committee and general correspondence from the 1970s and 1980s.


John Andrew La Nauze was Professor of Economic History (1950-1955) and History (1956-1965), before being appointed to the Chair of History at the Australian National University Research School of Social Sciences, where he was later Emeritus Professor and Visiting Fellow. Among other works, he published Political Economy in Australia (1949) and Alfred Deakin (1965). He died in 1990.

John Andrew La Nauze collection

John La Nauze - box 3, item 19 contains a parcel of newspapers headed 'Antarctic expedition, loss of Capt Scott, February 1913’.


After working as an electronic technician in industry from 1949 to 1960 and senior technical officer at the Dept. of Physiology, A.N.U. (1960-1962), Wishart joined the Antarctic Division of the Dept. of Supply as technical officer (in glaciology). He took part in an expedition to Mawson from 1963 to 1964 and in 1967, he paid a brief visit to the American Antarctic base at Byrd. A mountain (Mt. Wishart) was named after him in 1965 and in 1970 Wishart won the Polar medal. Later he was attached to C.S.I.R.O. (division of Radiophysics and Cloud Physics) and is now with the University of Meterology Department. Wishart was born in 1932.

Edward Wishart collection

Edward Wishart - Wishart was a member of Antarctic expeditions (1963-1964) and 1967. He was awarded the Polar Medal in 1970. The collection contains newspaper cuttings, published papers, circulars and correspondence from Mawson, Antarctica, and photographs.


Malcolm Fraser - Malcolm Fraser was at various times Minister for Education and Science and Minister for Defence. His ministerial roles had some bearing on Australian policy in Antarctica.

(John) Malcolm Fraser was born on 21 May 1930 in Melbourne. The Fraser family lived in NSW before moving to 'Nareen' (a sheep station in western Victoria) in 1943. Malcolm Fraser attended Tudor House School in NSW (1940-1943) and Melbourne Grammar (1944-1948). In 1949, he was admitted to the University of Oxford, to study 'Modern Greats' (politics, philosophy and economics). In 1955, Malcolm Fraser was elected Liberal member for Wannon in Western Victoria. He gained his first Cabinet post as Minister for the Army in 1966 and later became Minister for Education and Science (1968-1969) and (1971-1972) and Minister for Defence (1969-1971). He became leader of the Liberal Party in March, 1975 and in November was appointed caretaker Prime Minister following the dismissal of the Whitlam government. He served as Prime Minister until 1983. Following his political career, Malcolm Fraser had maintained a role in world affairs, as Co-Chair of the Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group on South Africa (1985-1986) and Chair of the UN Secretary-General's Expert Group on African Commodity Issues (1989-1990). In 1987, he founded CARE Australia, the country's largest non-political/non-religious overseas aid organisation. In 1997, he led a Commonwealth Observer Mission to Pakistan to monitor the national elections. Malcolm Fraser remained actively interested in issues such as human rights and the rule of law until his death on the 20th of March, 2015.

Malcolm Fraser collection

The collection includes research material on the Antarctic Base Project, Kingston and the transfer of the Antarctic Division to Hobart in 1974.


Underground mine manager at the Zinc Corporation Broken Hill (1956-1959). Madigan became General Manager of Z.C's General Mining Division (1960-1964) and General Manager of Hamersley Iron (1965-71). Madigan became a Director of CRA in 1968. Later he became a Director of RTZ, HI and Blair Athol Coal (1971 to 1972 and in 1981). He became a Director of Comalco (1976-1982). He was also director of a number of other companies including: APV Holdings, Muswell Energy, Minerals and Aluminium Smelters of Victoria Ltd. Madigan had been involved with a number of bodies including: Australia Japan Foundation, Australian Academy of Technological Sciences, Pacific Basin Economic Council, AIMME and AusIMM.

Sir Russel Madigan collection

Sir Russel Madigan - Madigan was general manager of numerous mining companies, as well as board member for various committees. From 1982 to 1985, he was a member of the Antarctic Names and Polar Medals Committee. His papers relating to that committee are found in boxes 23 and 24. There is also a subject file on Mawson's Hut in box 59.