Hansen’s Grave


The Southern Cross expedition’s zoologist, Norwegian Nicolai Hansen, died on October 14, 1899, probably of an intestinal disorder: the first human death on the continent. Tragically, Hansen married shortly before leaving for Antarctica and had a daughter, Johanne, whom he never saw. Unfortunately, the safest route up the 350m ridge to the grave is blocked by an Adélie-penguin colony, so the grave site is effectively off-limits unless your ship has a helicopter.

Hansen's deathbed wish was to be buried on the ridge above Ridley Beach, so the expeditioners built a coffin and dynamited a grave for the first-known human burial on the continent. Dragging Hansen’s heavy coffin up the steep incline was a major effort.

When the Southern Cross returned, a graveside memorial was held and an iron cross and brass plaque were attached to a boulder on the site. Later, when Victor Campbell’s men used the ridge as a lookout for the Terra Nova, one of them spelled out Hansen’s name with white quartz pebbles. Visitors to the site in 1982 restored the inscriptions.