Louis Bernacchi's Antarctic
fascination and Macquarie Island
Louis Bernacchi's Antarctic fascination was stimulated
by conversations with crew (possibly Captain Hatch and a Mr Burton who intended
a season of taxidermy) from the ketch Gratitude that stopped for provisions
in Louisville, Tasmania en route for Macquarie Island in 1896. Louis
was then 22 years of age and studying astronomy and terrestrial magnetism at
Melbourne Observatory (a part of Melbourne University). The Gratitude
was a regular visitor to Macquarie being involved in the sealing trade. Soon
after it was wrecked (November 1898) and immortalised by Frank Hurley's photographs
of the skeletal remnants of the ship's bow amid the penguin rookery. Hurley
took numerous photos of Macquarie Island during Mawson's Australian Antarctic
Expedition 1911-1914. Macquarie Island was used by Douglas Mawson as a radio
relay station between the Australian mainland and his Antarctic base at Cape
Denison. It is home to many Elephant seals and King, Royal and Gentoo penguins.
There is a permanent ANARE (Australian National Antarctic Research Expedition)
base on the island.
One of Hurley's images of the wreck
of the Gratitude on Nuggets Beach can be viewed at the National Library
of Australia site.
Below is an image of sub-Antarctic Macquarie
Island on one of the rare days of sunshine.
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