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South Pole – Nature and Culture

As the world dwindles in scope for those who love to go to dangerous places,  there is still the one frontier left to continue to explore, a place that is as mysterious now as it has always been, a place though settled over the last 50 years is still challenging, dangerous, evocative and inspiring; that place is the South Pole.

For those who know a little or nothing about this place, South Pole is a very good place to commence as it contains a little bit of everything selected to entice, entertain, educate and enjoy this strangely illusive place, located most times at the geographical or rather cartographic location of 90 degrees south, although this has to be adjusted each year, making it the most remote point on the globe.

It has been a place of conjecture by the early Greeks, as they felt sure there must be something off the other side of flatness that was considered the earth. Captain James Cook skirted the edges of the Antarctic in 1773 looking for the southern continent and in doing so made the first ever crossing of the polar circle.

He was later followed by sealers, Russian explorer von Bellingshausen in 1820, American explorer John Davis in 1821, all adding some measure of knowledge to this white, featureless place.

Next came the explorers or ‘pole hunters’, all on the hunt for the illusive ‘south pole’ whom collectively, earned the names of ‘polers’. They were out, in large, to be the first to claim the magnetic pole for their countries. As this largely inhospitable land has and will claim lives, is well documented with loss of many lives in the early years of explorations, one has to seriously wonder why this became the mecca for these early adventurers.

As time passed though more and more ‘adventurers’ made their target the South Pole and set out to go there one way or the other; American Aviator Richard Byrd flew over the Pole in 1929, Sir Edmund Hillary undertook the first ever tractor expedition to the Pole, making his party the first to complete the overland trek since Scott’s fatal expedition in 1912.

Since 1956 there has been a far more permanent presence in the Antarctic by the Americans, The Russians, the British, the Australians and New Zealanders and this in itself has seen changes of a more permanent nature begin with the signing of the Antarctic Treaty in 1959 and commenced in 1961.

The accommodation has changed from largely summer style construction to all year round buildings far of a far more sophisticated design than ever before. Amongst the people who have worked and lived there , there is a distance group who have now done several seasons there and call themselves the ‘Polies’: and so a sense of community, of commitment, is born to this remote, isolated, magical place.

Encapsulated within the pages there so much more information, accompanied by some incredible images and photographs  taking the story which is so far not so many years old, right up to the modern day extreme tourism that is now rapidly becoming an alluringly accessible  destination for those who have always wanted to go exploring but did not have the time.

Elizabeth Leane has managed to capture the essence, the allure, the mystique and the magnificence of this isolated, featureless place on the earth, presenting it in such a way that it combines history, with geography in a manner that entertains as well as educates.

If you are an armchair explorer or traveller you will definitely enjoy this journey!


Author Dr. Elizabeth Leane
ISBN 9781780235967
Distributor New South Books
Released April 2016