Hobart, Tasmania is located at 42 degrees south latitude, just 2692 kilometres from the nearest Antarctic continental base, the French station at Dumont d’Urville. The closest Australian research station at Macquarie Island is just 1500 kilometres distant and the Australian Antarctic Division’s Casey Station is 3430 kilometres away, served by an air link from Hobart International Airport. This location makes the city of Hobart Australia’s Antarctic port and a thriving centre for science, logistics, shipping and crew transport servicing the Southern Ocean, Sub-Antarctic Islands and Antarctica itself.
It’s often quoted that there are more Antarctic scientists located in Hobart than in any other city in the world and several important organisations are based here. These include the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS), the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD), the Commission for the Conservation of Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), the CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research Institute, the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre (ACE-CRC) and the University of Tasmania (UTAS). This impressive array of scientific expertise is just part of the Antarctic community found in Tasmania. Hundreds of staff at the AAD support the recruitment and training of Antarctic expeditioners and the operation of shipping and transport services. Dozens of companies supply food, fuel, specialised equipment and services to support Australia’s Antarctic program as well as the French and Chinese Antarctic programs.
Each season, hundreds of people in Hobart prepare for the program of explorations, research, maintenance and re-supply that will begin as soon as sea ice conditions in the Southern Ocean allow. The Australian icebreaker Aurora Australis and the French Antarctic ship L’Astrolabe are familiar sights on the Hobart docks and now they begin to take on stores and supplies for the coming summer. We believe this is an appropriate time to celebrate the work of the Antarctic community and the huge contribution it makes to the social fabric and working economy of Tasmania.
With a series of exhibitions, open days, school excursions, entertainments and lectures, we want to bring the Antarctic to you over four days, from Thursday 8 September to Sunday 11 September, 2016. Join us for a fascinating look at the work we do in the coldest, highest, driest and windiest place on earth. Meet the expeditioners and scientists, the tradespeople and the chefs, the communications experts and the technicians who support Australia’s leading role in the Antarctic and Southern Ocean. You will be intrigued, surprised, entertained and amused at the details of how people live and work at -40 degrees Celsius, or go for a refreshing dip when the temperature climbs to zero!
Best of all, thanks to the support of our many friends and sponsors, admission to almost all Antarctic Festival events is completely free to the public. Where we do ask for a donation, it’s to support the vital work of the Mawson’s Huts Foundation, who preserve a unique part of Australia’s Antarctic heritage: Douglas Mawson’s 1912 expedition huts at Commonwealth Bay in East Antarctica.