Thursday, March 03, 2011

Australian Antarctic Division

A number of years ago, I made contact with a gentleman named Nick, who
at the time was employed by the Australian Antarctic Division, which is located
in Kingston, Tasmania which is just outside Hobart. Nick sent me a very large
copy of the pennant used by the ANARE (Australian National Antarctic Research
Expeditions). This was a predecessor of the current AAD. I've kept in touch with
Nick and since we were visiting the Hobart area, I contacted him. Although he
retired from the program, he's still involved, and was kind enough to give us a
tour of the facility.

The headquarters is a series of buildings all connected together. Originally, it was
built to resemble floating icebergs.

This is a much smaller version of the pennant that Nick sent me.

They have a really big library with everything and anything Antarctic-related.
This photo only shows a small part of it.

Graeme is the Assistant Librarian of Client Services and makes a great cuppa!
He went with us on most of the tour and introduced us to lots of the folks that
worked there.

We were shown and allowed to open an original copy of "Aurora Australis".
Printed by the 1908 Shackleton Nimrod Expedition, this was the first book
ever printed in Antarctica and it's estimated only 100 were printed. Only
70 or so have been located and this is one of them.

The cover page of "Aurora Australis".

While we were walking around, we saw the offices of the Aviation
Department. I've worked with these folks while at McMurdo.

We also saw a model of the Airbus A319, which is operated by
Skytraders for the AAD. We've both had the chance to fly on this
plane both northbound and southbound from the Ice.

The American stations keep most of their supplies in warehouses
on site. The Australian program keeps most of their goods here
in Kingston. Sure, their stations have their share of items on location,
but most everything comes from here.

Even their boating supplies are brought here to be stored and repaired.

These are boxes of films from expeditions and seasons past that are
being stored here until they can be preserved and processed. Graeme
is unsure how long this will take and where they will go since like everybody
else these days, the programme is cutting spending.

We're familiar with the Clothing Distribution Centre (CDC) at the
Antarctic Centre in Christchurch, but the AAD has their own. It's a bit
smaller the the counterpart in NZ, but significant nonetheless. It was
really interesting to see the similarities and differences in clothing
gear between our program and theirs.

We are issued "Big Reds" while apparently, some of their folks are
issued "Big Yellows"!

The AAD is one of the few places away from Antarctica itself that
Antarctic Krill are raised.

The krill are in these tanks. Can't see them? Neither can we!

I found the AAD headquarters to be kind of a combination of USAP's
Washington, Denver, Christchurch and stations all rolled into one.
This is a really nice cafeteria that is set up for visitors and employees to
use and enjoy.

There is actually a small visitor centre at the AAD. Mostly it is for
school groups and such, but if I hadn't contacted Nick ahead of time,
I might have been disappointed. Nick and Graeme told us that the
higher ups didn't really want to emphasize the public being involved
or even interested in the programme, which results in a pretty small
public presence. I was interested in the few items they did have though,
such as the glove that was on the hand of the first hand planting a flag
at the South Pole. Kind of odd, but kind of cool at the same time.

Of course, Bruno went along with us and had his picture taken with a
few new friends that had worked in Antarctica with the Australians.
They must have had a big dinner, because they were absolutely stuffed!

After a really nice visit of the facilities, Graeme treated us to a nice cuppa and
presented us with a copy of "The Silence Calling" by Tim Bowden. it chronicles
the history of the ANARE and is a great book. Of course Lynn, Nick and I posed
for a photo and we were on our way.

It was really great to see how another Antarctic program besides ours and New
Zealand's operates. I've heard that the Australians have been trying to get the
USAP to move their operations from Christchurch to Kingston but I doubt it will
happen soon. In light of the problems that Christchurch has had with the
earthquake, I think the two programs are even closer now than before and most
folks wouldn't want to leave Christchurch. Thanks to Nick and Graeme for
spending so much time with us nutty Americans, taking the time to show us
everything they take so much pride in.


Steph said...

seems like you are on an awesome trip!

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