'Heading South' Statues at Hobart Harbour – Hobart, Australia - Atlas Obscura

'Heading South' Statues at Hobart Harbour

Bronze statues honor the brave explorers who passed through this Antarctic gateway. 


With mourning huskies lying alongside, a crying seagull on top, and a forlorn, maybe even forgotten, pair of skis leaning up against it (alongside a pickax and rope), this monument pays tribute to the men who ventured off into the icy unknown. It was presented to the city to mark its links to the Southern Ocean and the Antarctic.

The artwork is part of an installation of several bronze pieces by long-time resident Stephen Walker. It’s actually two pieces: Seals and Penguins (1998) and The Bernacchi Tribute (2002).

Louis Bernacchi was a scientist, photographer, and writer. In 1898 he set out on the Southern Cross and became the first Australian to winter in Antarctica. In the artwork, he stands by his camera holding a flag as he takes a self-portrait (what we’d now call a “selfie”) of him and his husky dog Joe. He later joined Robert Scott on a 1901 expedition, taking Joe along with him for the journey (and would doubtless be pleased to see the husky dog and pups statue that’s part of this collection). 

On the rocks behind them, seals and penguins dodge the splashing water, and a plaque on the main statue also pays tribute to English explorer James Clark Ross (1800—1862), who sailed from Hobart in 1840 to explore Antarctica. The last major exploratory voyage made completely by sail, it located the position of the South Magnetic Pole, and saw Ross immortalized by his name being given to a major ice shelf (and a seal only found on the region’s pack ice).

He and his crew sailed on the Erebus and Terror, which later gained infamy as the two vessels that Sir John Franklin (who also has a very grand statue nearby) led on his fatal expedition to discover the North-West Passage in 1845. Franklin was governor of Van Diemen’s Land (as Tasmania was then called) from 1837 to 1843 and died, along with his whole crew, on that venture—a story that was fictionalized by Dan Simmons in 2007 novel The Terror, and later dramatized on AMC.

Know Before You Go

You can walk along the harbor to view the artwork at any time.

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August 31, 2018

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