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General Notes On The "Googie" (120112)
Almost every website and article that references Futuros refers to the "Googies" as modified Futuros; indeed these pages (and even the brief historical notes below) have always done the same though we have never been really that convinced. There are too many differences, the size, the materials used to contruct them, the entrance and so on. Recently we have been digging deeper and as a result of that research (and the help of some great people at the AAD - thank you Jessica, Jonathan, Jan and Graeme) it is now clear that the "Googies" are NOT modified Futuros but rather something designed and constructed completely independantly.
Because of the evident similarity between "Googies" and Futuros and because of the fact that they are commonly reported to be modified Futuros (and also just because they are plain interesting in their own right) we intend to maintain these "Googie" pages and update and expand them as and when we have new information despite the fact that they are not in fact Futuros.
A little background on the "Googie" can be found below and more detailed information and history related to the "Googies" can be found here
The initial impetus behind the creation of the Futuro was a desire to create a light, portable, easily heated ski cabin that could be located in adverse terrain. It is clear that those criteria made the Futuro at least a candidate for use as accommodation for some of the many scientific expeditions and bases that dot Antarctica which likely has the coldest and most inhospitable climate on the planet.
Antarctic Dictionary: A Complete Guide to Antarctic English
by Bernadette Hince defines the "Googie
" this way:
"A large fiberglass field hut, usually orange, which is mounted on a steel frame in the manner of an egg in an egg-cup. The hut is a flattened sphere in shape, and looks remarkably like the traditional images of a flying saucer.
The "Googie" Hut, or just plain "Googie" as it is often referred to was a modified Futuro (120112 - see the notes above - the "Googie" was NOT a modified Futuro but a totally separate and independent design) manufactured in Australia specifically for use in the Antarctic region. The most obvious difference was the reduced number of windows but it retained most of the Futuro's design characteristics including being seated on a steel cradle.
The chapter "A Catalogue of Temporary Field Accommodation Systems for Use in Antarctica
" from an Australian Antarctic Division of the Australian Government Department Of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population & Communities
document discusses the use of the "Googie" and other types of structures in Antarctica.
According to the AAD (and they should know) there are currently 5 "Googies" in use; the two on Béchervaise Island, two on Macquarie Island
(one at Waterfall Bay
and the other at Brothers Point
) and one on Hop Island
The AAD indicates that they have used "Googies" since the mid 1980's and have been well received by the individuals who have used them. The AAD describes the "Googie" as being constructed from fiberglass hemispheres mounted on a steel ring with multiple oval windows and access using a single vertical opening door; features listed include:
- Relatively spacious
- Well ventilated
- Ability to capture and store precipitation below the floor
- Able to maintain heat well due to good interior insulation
- Reduced (snow) drifting effects due to elevation
- Location | Béchervaise Island, Antarctica
- Lat/Long | 67°35'13.22"S 62°48'30.86"E
- Previous Location | Spit Bay, Heard Island, Australian External Territory
- Previous Lat/Long | 53°6'25.99"S 73°43'13.95"E
- Image By cosrologist | 122907
- Google Maps | 020806
- Latest Confirmation | 092818
Information Update History
The two photos below are by John Burgess and accompanied a 091815 article on the Australian Antarctic Division
website titled "A New Hut For Bechervaise Island: Part 2". It is great to see the "Googies" are "alive and well" as of Aug/Sept 2015 when these photos were taken.
The photos and story document the replacement of the "Apple" hut at this location. The new hut is neither a "Googie" or a Futuro but it is interesting to note how reminiscent of a Futuro the sections of the new hut are (albeit on a much smaller scale). This similarity can be seen in many Futuro photos such as the first of the two photos below of sections of one of Nick McQuiod's Futuros
. Compare to the second photo showing the sections of the new hut being assembled on Béchervaise.
With the kind assistance of several individuals (Jessica, Jonathan, Jan and Graeme - thank you all) who work at the AAD we are beginning to piece together a much clearer picture of the origins and history of the "Googies" or, as they seem to be also known, the "Smarties". It is also now clear that they are NOT modified Futuro's though they may have been possibly have been influenced in some way by the Futuro. For more detailed information and history on this check out this page
As far as the Béchervaise Island "Googies" are concerned we do not yet have a complete history and some of the references report conflicting dates but one of these "Googies" were among the four that were located at Spit Bay
, Heard Island
in the late 1980's and early 1990's and used as the base of operations for various research expeditions
on the Island.
Satellite imagery dated 051207 shows what appears likely to be the remains of the expedition base located at 53°6'25.99"S 73°43'13.95"E, We cannot be certain of this but there is not much of anything else visible on the island. In addition the photographers placement of this photo on Panoramio
by eccles26 together with an examination of the geography in that photo and the photo below compared against the imagery in Google Earth also suggests very strongly that this was the expedition site.
Heard is by far the largest of the islands in the McDonald Islands
group; an Australian Territory since 1947 which is currently uninhabited and is one of the most remote places on Earth. Heard Island is home to Mawson Peak
, a part of the "Big Ben
" massif, that is one of only two active volcanoes in Australian territory. Topping out at 9006 feet Mawson Peak is also the highest point in Australian territory with the exception of peaks in the Antarctic Territory.
This image below, reproduced here with the permission of the AAD shows the group of four "Googies" as they were on Heard Island around 1992.
172B3 Spit Bay Winter Camp, Spit Bay, Heard Island, Photograph by Attila Vrana
Australian Antarctic Division, © Commonwealth of Australia
Photograph Reproduced With The Permission Of The AAD | Date Unknown
Following completion of various expeditions on Heard Island the "Googies" were returned to Australia and later relocated to new sites on Berchavaise Island, Hop Island
and at Waterfall Bay
and Brothers Point
on Macquarie Island. Of course in total between those locations there are actually five "Googies" and we have yet to establish the origin of the fifth.
One of these "Googies" came from Spit Bay. In the book "Subantarctic Wilderness: Macquarie Island
" (Alex Terauds & Fiona Stewart, publ, Jacana Books and Allen & Unwin, 2008) we read on page 60 that two of the "Googies" that were removed from Heard Island were flown into Macquarie island to Waterfall Bay
and Brother's Point
in the summer of 1995/96.
That leaves a further two from Spit Bay and three remaining "Googies" - the two here on Béchervaise and the one on Hop Island
. In an email thread the AAD confirmed that the Hop island "Googie" was one of the ones from Heard which leaves us with this fact; one of the Béchervaise "Googies" came from Heard; at this time we do not know the origin of the other.
Original Information 091611
The AAD bases its Penguin Monitoring Programs on Béchervaise Island
located in the Mac. Robertson Land
region of Antarctica
There are two "Googies" located on Béchervaise Island along with a couple of other buildings. One "Googie" is used for work while the other is used for living, sleeping, cooking and eating. PolarConservation.org lists the station on the page "Names of Australian Refuges, Medical Facilities & Accommodation Capacity
"; the accommodations are described as follows:
"Accommodates 4-5 people (one Apple hut, 2 Googie huts and a storage shed). Contains food, fuel, cooking, heating and laboratory facilities. It is fully fitted out with equipment for five researchers and also has a radio telephone installed. Each hut has a list of instructions peculiar to its fittings and contents.
Penguin Pete's Diary
(Dead - see pdf here
) provides us with some more detail on the camp and the role the "Googies" play as well as including some nice images.
Those who have visited seem to be enthusiastic about the experience; the ABC Science article "A visit to Béchervaise Island to get away from it all
" is one such account. All we can say is good luck to the researchers, nature enthusiasts or whoever else visits; we appreciate and are often in awe of nature and we do enjoy travel - to a point - but we like our home comforts way too much to be the next one recounting an adventure on Béchervaise Island.
The Google Earth satellite imagery showing the "Googies" is from back in 2006 but the AAD on this web page
indicates the "Googies" are still in use on Béchervaise Island. That page has a "last updated" date of 081210 so we are taking that as the "confirmed" date for this location.