An Island Off an Island

Musings from Bruny

Antarctica has been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember. To date the closest I have gotten to ‘The Ice’ is vicariously through Regina and Suz’s photos when they made their grand tour, and a magic view of the ice floes on a trip from Sydney to Johannesburg a few years ago.

Antarctica from 35.000 feet

Australia’s new Antarctic Icebreaker the RSV Nuyina arrived in its home port of Hobart in late October. Grand celebrations were planned with a flotilla ready to welcome her and vantage points advertised. I had a 6am date with Ruby to go down to the Point to get a good view of her on her way up to Hobart. Sadly fate in the form of a snap 3 day COVID lockdown combined with a fog you could slice with a knife put paid to that! After hours of tracking her progress I was just able to pick her out from the kitchen window in Storm Bay heading up the Derwent. Even a fog finds it hard to disguise something so big and well, orange!

Since her arrival Nuyina has dominated the Hobart waterfront but today she heads south to Antarctica on her first voyage carrying 67 expeditioners and crew to refuel Casey research station, transport helicopters to Davis research station and undertake marine science commissioning. In the following days the French vessel MV L’Astrolabe and the US icebreaker Aiviq which has been chartered by the Aussies will follow in her wake.

Hobart is one of five global Antarctic gateway cities (the others are Cape Town (South Africa), Christchurch (New Zealand), Punta Arenas (Chile) and Ushuaia (Argentina)), and the impact of the frozen continent to the south is highly visible through the presence of government agencies and educational programs. The Australian Antarctic Division headquarters are located at Kingston (our local service centre) conveniently between Bunnings and Mitre 10. I say conveniently as I have an image of a research station phoning up to say they need something and a staff member popping over to one of these super stores, putting it on the account and placing the item on the relevant shelf for the next courier delivery- that’s what we would have done in the library! I guess the logistics of transporting something to Davis is slightly more complicated!

The Australian Antarctic Program is currently recruiting for the 2022/23 season. I did check it out but it would seem that the need for a library consultant of a certain age is limited. Shame really as imagine the blog posts I could write!

Constitution Dock, Hobart

Safe travels to all those heading south.

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