Tasmanian Premier Will Hodgman launched the new Australian Antarctic Festival on Monday 18 April, 2016, quoting figures that show 1,200 full-time jobs and $400 million in economic turnover in Tasmania are directly linked to the Antarctic industry.
The 2016 Australian Antarctic Festival (Sept 8-11), staged on the Hobart waterfront, celebrates Australia’s long and historic links with Antarctica.
To be staged every two years, the Festival will also promote Hobart’s role as the gateway to the Antarctic for the Asia Pacific region and Tasmania as the headquarters of Australia’s scientific and research work for the icy continent.
The four day event is aimed at attracting, entertaining and educating Australians of all ages not just about Australia’s current role in the Antarctic (to which it has a territorial claim of 42 per cent of the land-mass), but also of Tasmania’s historic links with the world’s fifth largest continent,.
These links began in 1773 when Lt. James Cook dropped anchor off Bruny Island after becoming the first person to sail below the Antarctic Circle, with his ship the “Resolution”
As the second deepest natural port in the world, Hobart has been a centre of Antarctic activity in since 1816, when the first oceanic whaling vessel arrived.
The first expedition ever to winter in the Antarctic used Hobart as its main port in 1896 and Australia’s greatest ever polar explorer, Douglas Mawson, departed the city in December 1911 with the first Australian expedition. In the following year, Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen sailed in to Hobart to announce to the world he had become the first person to reach the South Pole.
The festival will highlight these historic links and Australia’s role in the Antarctic, with special programmes for children and families and adults. One of the main events in the four day festival will be a fund raising dinner organised by the Mawson’s Huts Foundation a not for profit charity launched in 1997 expressly to conserve the historic buildings used as the main base by Mawson’s 1911-14 Australasian Antarctic Expedition.
This will help raise funds for the conservation of Mawson’s Huts named after the famous explorer. (see Festival Dinner)
Initiated by the Foundation, the festival is also being funded in by the Tasmanian Government through Events Tasmania, by the Hobart City Council and Chimu Adventures, Australia’s largest retailer of Antarctic cruises.
It is also being supported by the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD), IMAS (Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies), the Tasmanian Polar Network, the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG), CSIRO and a large range of individuals and organisations involved with the Antarctic
The Australian Antarctic Festival is being produced and organised by the same award-winning team that produces the Australian Wooden Boat Festival every two years.