Australian Antarctic Territory

The Australian Antarctic Territory (AAT) is a part of Antarctica administered by the Australian Antarctic Division, an agency of the federal Department of the Environment and Energy. The territory's history dates to a claim on Enderby Land made by the United Kingdom in 1841, which was subsequently expanded and eventually transferred to Australia in 1933. It is the largest territory of Antarctica claimed by any nation by area. In 1961, the Antarctic Treaty came into force. Article 4 deals with territorial claims, and although it does not renounce or diminish any preexisting claims to sovereignty, it also does not prejudice the position of Contracting Parties in their recognition or non-recognition of territorial sovereignty. As a result, only four other countries; New Zealand, the United Kingdom, France and Norway recognise Australia's claim to sovereignty in Antarctica.[1]

Australian Antarctic Territory

Flag of the Australian Antarctic Territory
Map of Antarctica indicating Australian territorial claim (red area).
Map of Antarctica indicating
Australian territorial claim (red area).
StatusExternal Territory
CapitalDavis Station
Largest research stationMirny Station (Russia)
Sovereign stateAustralia
GovernmentAustralian external territory
Sir Peter Cosgrove
Melissa Price
• Chief Scientist
Gwen Fenton
• Total
5,896,500 km2 (2,276,700 sq mi)
• Estimate
less than 1,000
CurrencyAustralian dollar
Calling code+672


AAT consists of all the islands and territory south of 60°S and between 45°E and 160°E, except for Adélie Land (136°E to 142°E), which divides the territory into Western AAT (the larger portion) and Eastern AAT. It is bounded by Queen Maud Land in the West and by Ross Dependency in the East. The area is estimated at 5,896,500 km2.[2]

The territory is inhabited by the staff of research stations. The Australian Antarctic Division administers the area primarily by maintaining three year-round stations (Mawson, Davis and Casey), which support various research projects.


The territory is divided into nine districts, which are from West to East:

No. District Area (km²) Western border Eastern border
1 Enderby Land 045° E 056°25' E
2 Kemp Land 056°25' E 059°34' E
3 Mac. Robertson Land 059°34' E 072°35' E
4 Princess Elizabeth Land 072°35' E 087°43' E
5 Kaiser Wilhelm II Land 087°43' E 091°54' E
6 Queen Mary Land 091°54' E 100°30' E
7 Wilkes Land 2,600,000 100°30' E 136°11' E
8 George V Land 142°02' E 153°45' E
9 Oates Land 153°45' E 160°00' E

These regions are split into two separate areas geographically, with George V Land and Oates Land lying to the east of the French Territorial claim of Adélie Land, and all other districts lying to its west.

Exclusive economic zone

Australia claims an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) from the Australian Antarctic Territory. However, the Australian proclamation of an Antarctic EEZ is contested. The effect of Article IV of the 1959 Antarctic Treaty (which prohibits new territorial claims or the extension of existing claims in the Antarctic) would seem to be that an EEZ cannot be claimed in relation to territory to which that Treaty applies (south of 60° South). The provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) define the exclusive economic zone of a coastal state as up to 200 nautical miles (370 km) from the baseline from which the territorial sea is measured.[3]


Whaling in Australian Antarctic territorial waters is controversial and has received international attention.[4] Anti-whaling protest groups, in particular Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, have been active within the Australian Antarctic territorial waters. Sea Shepherd small boat crews have had multiple encounters with Japanese ships that claim to be on research expeditions while opponents argue this is only a "cover" for banned commercial whaling.[5][6] The Australian Whale Sanctuary, in Australian Antarctic territory, is not recognised by the government of Japan.[4] Anti-whaling legislation passed by the Australian Government applies to Australian territorial waters. However, Australia's claims of sovereignty over the Australian Antarctic Territory—and thus sovereignty over Australian Antarctic territorial waters—are recognised by only the United Kingdom, New Zealand, France and Norway.[7]


Active and closed stations in the territory, from West to East:

Station Nationality Location District
Molodyozhnaya (seasonal)  Russia 67°40′S 45°51′E / 67.667°S 45.850°E Enderby Land
Mawson  Australia 67°36′09.7″S 62°52′25.7″E / 67.602694°S 62.873806°E Mac Robertson Land (Mawson Coast)
Soyuz (closed)  Russia 70°35′S 68°47′E / 70.583°S 68.783°E Mac Robertson Land (Lars Christensen Land)
Druzhnaya (closed)  Russia 69°44′S 72°42′E / 69.733°S 72.700°E Princess Elizabeth Land (Ingrid Christensen Land)
Zhongshan  China 69°22′S 76°22′E / 69.367°S 76.367°E Princess Elizabeth Land (Ingrid Christensen Land)
Law-Racovita Station  Romania 69°23′18.6″S 76°22′46.2″E / 69.388500°S 76.379500°E Princess Elizabeth Land (Ingrid Christensen Land)
Progress Station  Russia 69°23′S 76°23′E / 69.383°S 76.383°E Princess Elizabeth Land (Ingrid Christensen Land)
Davis  Australia 68°34′35.8″S 77°58′02.6″E / 68.576611°S 77.967389°E Princess Elizabeth Land (Ingrid Christensen Land)
Sovetskaya (closed)  Russia 77°58′S 89°16′E / 77.967°S 89.267°E Wilhelm II Land
Mirny Station  Russia 66°33′S 93°01′E / 66.550°S 93.017°E Queen Mary Land
Komsomolskaya (closed)  Russia 74°05′S 97°29′E / 74.083°S 97.483°E Queen Mary Land
Vostok  Russia 78°28′S 106°48′E / 78.467°S 106.800°E Wilkes Land (Knox Land)
Wilkes Station (closed)  Australia 66°15′25.6″S 110°31′32.2″E / 66.257111°S 110.525611°E Wilkes Land (Budd Land)
Casey  Australia 66°16′54.5″S 110°31′39.4″E / 66.281806°S 110.527611°E Wilkes Land (Budd Land)
Concordia Station (Dome C)  France
75°06′S 123°23′E / 75.100°S 123.383°E Wilkes Land (Banzare Land)
Leningradskaya (closed)  Russia 69°30′S 159°23′E / 69.500°S 159.383°E Oates Land


The United Kingdom first claimed Victoria Land on 9 January 1841 and then claimed Enderby Land in 1930. In 1933, a British imperial order transferred most of the territory south of 60° S and between meridians 160° E and 45° E to Australia.

That part of His Majesty's dominions in the Antarctic Seas which comprises all the islands and territories other than Adélie Land which are situated south of the 60th degree of South Latitude and lying between the 160th degree of East Longitude and the 45th degree of East Longitude is hereby placed under the authority of the Commonwealth of Australia.[8]

Australian Antarctic Territory Acceptance Act 1933
That part of the territory in the Antarctic seas which comprises all the islands and territories, other than Adelie Land, situated south of the 60th degree south latitude and lying between the 160th degree east longitude and the 45th degree east longitude, is hereby declared to be accepted by the Commonwealth as a Territory under the authority of the Commonwealth, by the name of the Australian Antarctic Territory. C2004C00416 / Australian Antarctic Territory Acceptance Act 1933 ( Cth )

Flag of the Australian Antarctic Territory (unofficial)
Unofficial flag proposal for the territory

The borders with Adélie Land were fixed definitively in 1938. In 1947, Britain transferred Heard Island and McDonald Islands to the territory. On 13 February 1954,[9] Mawson Station was established as the first Australian station on the continent proper.

Recognition of Australian sovereignty

Australia's claim to sovereignty over the Australian Antarctic Territory is recognised by the United Kingdom, New Zealand, France and Norway.[10] Japan does not recognise the Australian claim to the Australian Antarctic territorial waters in which Japanese ships conduct whaling.[11]

Mining in Antarctica

During the early 1980s there was a brief debate in Australia on whether or not to allow mining on the mineral-rich continent.[12] Several mining proposals have been discussed and have all been rejected.[13]

On the 9 August 2011, influential Australian think-tank, the Lowy Institute, published a report warning Canberra against complacency when it comes to its claim.[14] The global treaty banning resource exploitation becomes reviewable in 2041,[15] and some states may then decide to withdraw from it considering the continent's mineral deposits. These include coal seams, manganese, iron and uranium, while Antarctica's forecast oil reserves are estimated as among the largest in the world after Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. Lowy's national security fellow Ellie Fogarty said in the paper that Australia cannot adequately patrol its claim, lacking the kind of ski-planes it needs to reach some areas. It also lacks an ice-breaking ship in the region.

Postage stamps

Australian Antarctic Territory postal cover1959
This 1959 cover commemorated the opening of the Wilkes post office.

Australia issues postage stamps for the Australian Antarctic Territory. The first issues came in 1957, and sporadically thereafter, settling into a pattern of an annual issue by the 1990s. All have been Antarctic-themed, and all are valid for postage in Australia and its territories, including Antarctica.

Telephone connections

Assigned the country calling code +672 1[0-4] XXXX, the four stations and the Aurora Australis operated by the Australian Antarctic Division can be reached by direct calling from anywhere in the world. The area codes are 10 for Davis, 11 for Mawson, 12 for Casey, 13 for Macquarie Island and 14 for Wilkins and the Aurora Australis, in each case followed by four additional digits.

See also


  1. ^ §13
  2. ^ "National recovery plan for Albatrosses and Giant-petrels: Section 4.1.6 Australian Antarctic Territory, Geography". Australian Government, Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. Archived from the original on 17 August 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-16.
  3. ^ "Part V. Exclusive Economic Zone. Article 57. Breadth of the exclusive economic zone". United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Retrieved 15 January 2018.
  4. ^ a b "Japanese whalers told to keep out of Australian territory". The New Zealand Herald. 16 January 2008. Retrieved 17 September 2011.
  5. ^ "'Stink' attack on Japan's whalers, BBC, 27 December 2008
  6. ^ "Japanese whaling ship detains 2 protesters", MSNBC, 15 January 2008
  7. ^ "An honorable way out of the whaling débâcle", Sydney Morning Herald, 19 January 2008
  8. ^ Antarctica and international law: a collection of inter-state and national documents, Volume 2. pp. 143. Author: W. M. Bush. Editor: Oceana Publications, 1982. ISBN 0-379-20321-9, ISBN 978-0-379-20321-9
  9. ^ "A Brief History of Mawson". Australian Government – Australian Arctic Division. Archived from the original on 27 July 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-16.
  10. ^ "Chapter 6: Antarctic Territories" (PDF). Parliament of Australia. Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 June 2008. Retrieved 2013-03-29.
  11. ^ Humane Society International Inc v Kyodo Senpaku Kaisha Ltd [2008] FCA 3 at [13], (2008) 165 FCR 510 (15 January 2008), Federal Court (Australia).
  12. ^ "Mining". In the 1980s the question of possible mineral exploitation (including the hydrocarbons oil and gas) was addressed by the nations of the Antarctic Treaty. They negotiated an agreement called the Convention on the Regulation of Antarctic Mineral Resource Activities (CRAMRA) which would have regulated mining should it have ever been contemplated. CRAMRA did not come into force. Instead, the Madrid Protocol was negotiated and it includes a ban on Antarctic mining. Australian Government. Retrieved 26 June 2013.
  13. ^ "No mining in Antarctica, say Aussies". Despite the current global appetite for minerals, which has underpinned two decades of economic growth in Australia, the country currently has no plans to allow any mining in Antarctica. IOL. Retrieved 26 June 2013.
  14. ^ "Antarctica: Assessing and Protecting Australia's National Interests" (PDF). International interest in Antarctica is rising. Lowy Institute. Retrieved 26 June 2013.
  15. ^ Swan, Robert. "2041". In the year 2041 the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty could potentially be modified or amended. Retrieved 26 June 2013.

External links

Coordinates: 75°00′S 102°30′E / 75.000°S 102.500°E

160th meridian east

The meridian 160° east of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, Asia, the Pacific Ocean, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole.

The 160th meridian east forms a great circle with the 20th meridian west.

In Antarctica, the meridian defines the border between the Australian Antarctic Territory and the Ross Dependency.

Australian Antarctic Division

The Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) is a division of the Department of the Environment. The Division undertakes science programs and research projects to contribute to an understanding of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean. It conducts and supports collaborative research programs with other Australian and international organisations, such as the Bureau of Meteorology and Geoscience Australia, as well as administering and maintaining a presence in Australian Antarctic and sub-Antarctic territories.

Their website includes articles on the Antarctic wildlife, threats, guidelines and they have blogs written by Australians at the three Australian bases in Antarctica: Mawson, Davis and Casey.

Australian Antarctic Names and Medals Committee

The Australian Antarctic Names and Medals Committee (AANMC) was established to advise the Government on names for features in the Australian Antarctic Territory and the subantarctic territory of Heard Island and the McDonald Islands. The committee also issues nominations Governor General for the award of the Australian Antarctic Medal.

Committee members were appointed by the Minister or Parliamentary Secretary responsible for Antarctic matters. The committee was founded in 1952 as the Antarctic Names Committee of Australia and changed to the current name in 1982 to reflect the multiple functions that the committee is responsible for. The committee was replaced by the Australian Antarctic Division Place names Committee in 2015.

Casey Station

The Casey Station, commonly called Casey, is one of three permanent bases and research outposts in Antarctica managed by the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD). Casey lies on the northern side of the Bailey Peninsula overlooking Vincennes Bay on the Budd Coast of Wilkes Land in the Australian Antarctic Territory, a territory claimed by Australia. Casey is 3,880 kilometres (2,410 mi) due south of Perth, Western Australia.

Casey was named in honour of Richard, Baron Casey.

Davis Station

The Davis Station, commonly called Davis, is one of three permanent bases and research outposts in Antarctica managed by the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD). Davis is situated on the coast of Cooperation Sea in Princess Elizabeth Land, Ingrid Christensen Coast in the Australian Antarctic Territory, a territory claimed by Australia. Davis lies in the Antarctic oasis, a remarkable ice free area known as the Vestfold Hills.

Davis was named in honour of Captain John King Davis.Davis was listed on the Register of the National Estate on 26 October 1999 and has been included on the Commonwealth Heritage List as an indicative place, due to the condition of buildings and structures that varies from no longer exists/demolished due to poor condition, through to very good condition.

Edgeworth David Base

Edgeworth David Base is a refuge and research outpost named after Sir Edgeworth David, located in Northern Bunger Hills. It was opened in 1986 by the Australian Antarctic Division. It is temporary visited during the summer season and used for geological, geophysical, geomorphological and biological research.

Enderby Land

Enderby Land is a projecting land mass of Antarctica. Its shore extends from Shinnan Glacier at about 67°55′S 44°38′E to William Scoresby Bay at 67°24′S 59°34′E, approximately ​1⁄24 of the earth's longitude. It was first documented in western and eastern literature in February 1831 by John Biscoe aboard the whaling brig Tula, and named after the Enderby Brothers of London, the ship's owners who encouraged their captains to combine exploration with sealing.

Geography of Antarctica

The geography of Antarctica is dominated by its south polar location and, thus, by ice. The Antarctic continent, located in the Earth's southern hemisphere, is centered asymmetrically around the South Pole and largely south of the Antarctic Circle. It is washed by the Southern (or Antarctic) Ocean or, depending on definition, the southern Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans. It has an area of more than 14 million km².

Some 98% of Antarctica is covered by the Antarctic ice sheet, the world's largest ice sheet and also its largest reservoir of fresh water. Averaging at least 1.6 km thick, the ice is so massive that it has depressed the continental bedrock in some areas more than 2.5 km below sea level; subglacial lakes of liquid water also occur (e.g., Lake Vostok). Ice shelves and rises populate the ice sheet on the periphery.

In September 2018, researchers at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency released a high resolution terrain map (detail down to the size of a car, and less in some areas) of Antarctica, named the "Reference Elevation Model of Antarctica" (REMA).

George V Land

George V Land is a segment of Antarctica part of the land claimed as part of the Australian Antarctic Territory, inland from the George V Coast. As with other segments of Antarctica, it is defined by two lines of longitude, 142°02' E and 153°45' E, and by the 60°S parallel. This region was first explored by members of the Main Base party of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition (1911-14) under Douglas Mawson, who named this feature for King George V of the United Kingdom.

Kaiser Wilhelm II Land

Kaiser Wilhelm II Land is a part of Antarctica lying between Cape Penck at 87° 43'E and Cape Filchner at 91° 54'E, and is claimed as part of the Australian Antarctic Territory, a claim not universally recognized.

The area was discovered on 22 February 1902, during the Gauss expedition of 1901–1903 led by Arctic veteran and geologist Erich von Drygalski. Drygalski named it after Kaiser Wilhelm II who had funded the expedition with 1.2 million Goldmarks.

Also discovered was the Gaussberg, a 370-metre-high (1,210 ft) extinct volcano named after mathematician and physicist Carl Friedrich Gauss.

List of extreme points of Australia

This is a list of the extreme points of Australia. The list includes extremes of cardinal direction, elevation, and other points of peculiar geographic interest. The location of some points depend on whether islands and the Australian Antarctic Territory (which is not universally recognised) are included.

Mac. Robertson Land

Mac. Robertson Land is the portion of Antarctica lying southward of the coast between William Scoresby Bay and Cape Darnley. It is located at 70°00′S 65°00′E. In the east, Mac. Robertson Land includes the Prince Charles Mountains. It was named by the British Australian and New Zealand Antarctic Research Expedition (BANZARE) (1929-1931), under Sir Douglas Mawson, after Sir Macpherson Robertson of Melbourne, a patron of the expedition.From 1965 onwards, members of the SAE (Soviet Antarctic Expeditions) began undertaking geological fieldwork in the Prince Charles Mountains, eventually establishing a base, Soyuz Station, on the eastern shore of Beaver Lake in the northern Prince Charles Mountains.

Mawson Station

The Mawson Station, commonly called Mawson, is one of three permanent bases and research outposts in Antarctica managed by the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD). Mawson lies in Holme Bay in Mac Robertson Land, East Antarctica in the Australian Antarctic Territory, a territory claimed by Australia. Established in 1954, Mawson is Australia's oldest Antarctic station and the oldest continuously inhabited Antarctic station south of the Antarctic Circle.Mawson was named in honour of Antarctic explorer Sir Douglas Mawson.Mawson was listed on the Register of the National Estate in 2001 and listed on the Commonwealth Heritage List on 22 June 2004, reflecting the post-World War Two revival of Australia's scientific research and territorial interests in Antarctica.


Oates Land

Oates Land is a wedge-shaped segment of East Antarctica stretching along and inland from the Oates Coast. Part of the Australian claim to the Antarctic, it extends between 153°45' E and 160° E, forming a wedge between 60° S and the South Pole. It is bounded in the east by the Ross Dependency and overlaps in the west with George V Land.

This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Geological Survey document "Oates Land" (content from the Geographic Names Information System).

Postage stamps and postal history of the Australian Antarctic Territory

Australia has issued postage stamps for the Australian Antarctic Territory since 1957. All have been Antarctic themed, and are also valid for postage in Australia, so in practice they are just Australian stamps with a different inscription.

Princess Elizabeth Land

Princess Elizabeth Land is the sector of Antarctica between longitude 73° east and Cape Penck (at 87°43' east). The sector is claimed by Australia as part of the Australian Antarctic Territory, although this claim is not widely recognized. Princess Elizabeth Land is located between 64°56'S and 90°00'S and between 73°35' E and 87°43'E. It is divided into two sectors:

Ingrid Christensen Coast, 73°35'E to 81°24'E

Leopold and Astrid Coast, 81°24'E to 87°43'EIt is bounded on the west by Amery Ice Shelf, Mac. Robertson Land, and on the east by Wilhelm II Land.

Princess Elizabeth Land was discovered on 9 February 1931, by the British Australian and New Zealand Antarctic Research Expedition (BANZARE) (1929–31) under Sir Douglas Mawson. Princess Elizabeth Land was named by Mawson after Princess Elizabeth, who later became Queen Elizabeth II.

Even though Australia claims the entirety of this land, it is home to Russian stations including Vostok Station (the coldest place on Earth) and Mirny Station which supplies it.

Wilkes Land

Wilkes Land is a large district of land in eastern Antarctica, formally claimed by Australia as part of the Australian Antarctic Territory, though the validity of this claim has been placed for the period of the operation of the Antarctic Treaty, to which Australia is a signatory. It fronts on the southern Indian Ocean between Queen Mary Coast and Adelie Land, extending from Cape Hordern in 100°31' E to Pourquoi Pas Point, in 136°11' E. The region extends as a sector about 2600 km towards the South Pole, with an estimated land area of 2,600,000 km², mostly glaciated. It is further subdivided in the following coastal areas which can also be thought of as sectors extending to the South Pole:

Knox Land: 100°31' E to 109°16' E

Budd Land: 109°16' E to 115°33' E

Sabrina Land: 115°33' E to 122°05' E

Banzare Land: 122°05' E to 130°10' E

Clarie Land: (Wilkes Coast) 130°10' E to 136°11' EIn a wider sense, Wilkes Land extends further East to Point Alden in 142°02' E, thereby including Adélie Land, which is claimed by France.

Wilkes Station

Wilkes Station was an Antarctic research station established 29 January 1957 by the United States as one of seven U.S. stations established for the International Geophysical Year (IGY) program in Antarctica. It was taken over by Australia on 7 February 1959.

Wilkins Runway

Wilkins Runway is a single runway aerodrome operated by Australia, located on upper glacier of the ice sheet Preston Heath, Budd Coast, Wilkes Land, on the continent of Antarctica, but 40 km (25 mi) southeast of the actual coast. It is named after Sir Hubert Wilkins, a pioneer of Antarctic aviation and exploration.

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.