Public tour bookings are now open for the the Aurora Australis and the RSV Investigator at the Australian Antarctic Festival. Book in advance and be quick, because these tickets will sell out and the opportunity comes around only once every two years. We are very grateful to P&O Maritime, the Australian Antarctic Division, CSIRO, the Marine National Facility and the Bookend Trust for making it possible for thousands of people to discover these remarkable ships and meet the people who work aboard them.
Two Great Ships to See:
The Aurora Australis is a waterfront icon in Hobart, its home port. For almost 30 years, it has served the Australian Antarctic Program by carrying fuel, supplies, scientific equipment and expeditioners to and from the Australian Antarctic bases at Mawson, Casey and Davis, the sub-Antarctic station at Macquarie Island and on far-flung ocean science trips to the Southern Ocean and its islands, including the only active volcano in Australia, Big Ben on Heard Island. For thousands of Antarctic veterans, the Aurora Australis has been a welcome sight at the end of a long tour in the frozen South, or an exciting beginning to a new adventure. Retiring from service after the 2019-2020 season, this may be the last chance for many to say goodbye to the ‘big orange taxi’, as she has been affectionately known.
The RSV Investigator is the CSIRO’s multi-capable ocean research ship, a floating laboratory supporting activities across a range of disciplines in oceanographic, geological, biological and atmospheric sciences. The 93.9 metre ship is capable of spending up to 300 days a year at sea. Each voyage can accommodate up to 40 scientists and support staff, staying at sea for up to 60 days at a time and ranging up to 10,000 nautical miles across the Indian, Pacific and Southern Oceans from its home port in Hobart. The ship is a technical marvel in itself, but even more fascinating are stories you’ll hear from the scientists who work aboard her.
Booking Your Tour
Public tours can be pre-booked here
Please note these are working ships, not passenger vessels, so you will require a reasonably level of mobility to take the tours. Terms and conditions apply and you should read these carefully before booking your tickets. Public tours are available on Saturday 4 and Sunday 5 August, between the hours of 10am and 3:30pm. Tours last approximately 45 minutes, and there’s more to see at on the wharf, so if you intend to visit both ships, we suggest that you leave at least 1.5 hours between tour bookings.
You must have a ticket to board the ships and we ask for a $5 donation per person to support the work of the Mawson’s Huts Foundation, the not-for-profit organisation that works to preserve Australia’s most remote heritage property – the original expedition huts of the 1911-1914 Australasian Antarctic Expedition led by Douglas Mawson. These huts stand at Cape Denison, in Commonwealth Bay in East Antarctica, a monument to the Heroic Age of Antarctic exploration and the important scientific work done there, which led directly to Australia’s continuing influence in the Antarctic Treaty System. Scores of volunteers from the Mawson’s Huts Foundation are helping to make your visit to the Australian Antarctic Festival possible.
More to See
If touring the ships is not your cup of tea, be sure to call in to CSIRO and IMAS, both located on Princes Wharf, Castray Esplanade. Both of these organisations are presenting Open Days on Saturday and Sunday, with free admission to all. See the extraordinary equipment they use, learn about the science we do in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean and why it is so important to understanding how our planet works. Open from 10am to 4pm, both centres can be accessed from Princes Wharf. Inside PW1, don’t miss the huge Antarctic Exhibition, also free to the public from 10am to 4pm.