Original photo of Amundsen’s trip to South Pole found

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Photo: National Library of Australia

On December 14, 1911, an expedition led by Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen became the first ever to reach the South Pole. The sole existing image of the historic moment shows four of the group’s members standing in front of a tent and the Norwegian flag.

Almost 98 years later, the only original copy of that image has been found by a historian at the National Library of Australia. Harald Ostgaard Lund, also a native of Norway, saw the photo on the library’s website and instantly recognised it. A trip to Canberra confirmed his hunch. He had already seen several cropped and manipulated photos of the landmark event, but this one was an original print.

Why Australia? On his way back from Antarctica, the Norwegian explorer stopped in Tasmania, where he gave his negatives to a local photographer. Decades later, the National Library of Australia bought an album of pictures from the family of that photographer’s assistant. Among the images was the one celebrating Amundsen’s achievement.