Aurora Australis, the Australian Antarctic Division’s flagship leads the Mawson Centenary Flotilla and His Excellency the Governor of Tasmania, the Honourable Peter Underwood AC takes the salute as guest of honour on board the classic motor launch “Egeria”.
On the 2nd December this year, we mark a century since a 29 year-old geologist named Douglas Mawson took command of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition, boarded the steam yacht Aurora and departed Hobart for Macquarie Island, en route to Cape Denison and Commonwealth Bay in Antarctica.
Hobart’s history as an Antarctic port is a long one, and since the early 19th Century the Tasmanian community has had a profound connection with Antarctica. In December 1911, this community gathered to wish the first Australian-led expedition to Antarctica good luck and Godspeed on their departure. The Governor of Tasmania spoke to an assembled crowd on the wharves, commending the expedition and its leader. When the Aurora sailed down the Derwent River, it was accompanied by a flotilla of well-wishers aboard chartered and private yachts.
Today, one hundred years later, that historic event was re-enacted in spectacular fashion on the Derwent river.
The Aurora Australis was named after the southern hemisphere atmospheric phenomenon – Aurora Australis.
Designed as a multi-purpose research and resupply ship, the Aurora was built by Carrington Slipways in Newcastle for P&O Polar and launched in September 1989. The ship is 94.9 metres long and 3911 tonnes in weight. It has a cruising speed of 13 knots, and accommodates 116 passengers. It is capable of breaking ice up to 1.23 metres thick.
The Aurora Australis is well equipped with a trawl deck, purpose designed for marine science and oceanographic work.
The ship is also fitted with a helipad and hangar facilities for three helicopters.
The Aurora regularly sails across the Southern Ocean where storms can generate 10 metre high seas and winds of 120–150 km/h.
The ship has been known to roll up to 45 degrees in big swells. In these situations the angle of the deck is far steeper than any streets in Australia.
A wide range of science is conducted in onboard laboratories. This includes biological, oceanography and meteorological experiments and observations.
On a six week voyage, the ship’s kitchen can go through 4500 eggs, 1000 kg of potatoes and 280 litres of ice cream.
The ship can produce up to 45,000 litres of fresh water per day for use on board for both drinking and other uses.
With satellite communications, people on the ship can phone anywhere in the world at any time. Expeditioners are also able to stay in contact with friends and family via email.
The Aurora Australis is painted a very bright orange, thus allowing it to be easily seen in ice-strewn waters.
The living conditions on board are excellent. Expeditioners are accommodated in small cabins that sleep three or four people on bunk beds. The beds fold away into couches to save space, and each cabin has its own bathroom and toilet. The ship also has a gym, library and recreation areas. Everybody eats together in a large communal mess.
3 shot panorama taken with Pentax k-r on 2 December 2011 at Hobart, Tasmania, Australia.
Lens Tamron AF10-300mm F3.5-5.6
Merging, cropping and lighting adjustments in PSE9 and image converted to JPEG for uploading.