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Biographical entry Bernacchi, Louis Charles (1876 - 1942)


8 November 1876
24 April 1942
Paddington, London, England
Physicist and Antarctic explorer


Louis Bernacchi joined the "Southern Cross" expedition 1898-1900 as a physicist and astronomer and was the first Australian to work and winter in Antarctica. He went on the British National Antarctic Expedition 1901-1904 and was at the Melbourne Observatory 1895-1897.


Born Belgium, 8 November 1876. Died London, 24 April 1942. OBE (mil.) 1919. Educated Hobart. Assistant, Melbourne Observatory 1895-97; physicist-astronomer, Borchgrevink's "Southern Cross" Antarctic expedition 1898-1900; physicist, British National Antarctic Expedition 1901-04; explorer, Africa and Peru 1905-06; rubber planter, Malaya 1907-14 and after World War I; lieutenant commander, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, anti-submarine division, Naval Staff, Admiralty and United States Navy 1914-19. Organised the British Polar Exhibition 1930; helped to organise the Second International Polar Year 1931-32; lieutenant-commander, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, working on the organisation of 'Q' ships 1939-42. Royal Geographical Society Medal 1906; King's Antarctic Medal 1906; French Cross of the L├ęgion d'honneur 1906; United States Navy Cross 1919.

Publications: "To the South Polar Regions"',1901, and various papers on scientific results of polar expeditions and on terrestial magnetism, meteorology, seismology, and gravity.

Burial Memorial at Brookwood Cemetery, Surrey, England.

Commemorated by a bronze statue and plaque "Self Portrait Louis and Joe" on the foreshore at Sullivans Cove, Hobart Tasmania.

Published resources


  • Crawford, Janet, That First Antarctic Winter: the Story of the Southern Cross Expedition of 1898-1900 as Told in the Diaries of Louis Charles Bernacchi (Christchurch, NZ: Southern Latitude Research in association with Peter J. Skellerup, 1998), 270 pp. Details

Book Sections

  • Swan, R. A., 'Bernacchi, Louis Charles (1876-1942), scientist and Antarctic explorer' in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Bede Nairn and Geoffrey Serle, eds, vol. 7 (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1979), pp. 275-276. Details

Journal Articles

  • Atkin, Andrew, 'Louis Bernacchi, a pioneer Antarctic scientist', Antarctic: Magazine of the New Zealand Antarctic Society, 28 (3/4) (2010), 64-8. Details
  • Atkin, Andrew, 'Louis Charles Bernacchi, Pioneer Antarctic Scientist and Explorer', Records of the Canterbury Museum, 25 (2011), 1-11. Details
  • Swan, R. A., 'The First Australian Scientist to Work and Winter on the Antarctic Continent', Victorian Historical Magazine, 33 (1963), 379-398. Details


Resource Sections

See also

McCarthy, G.J.