Baby icebreaker part of Antarctic history

·2-min read

It's about 10 metres long and once served as a dutiful work boat for Australia's Antarctic icebreaker.

The Aurora Australis finished a 30-year stint as the nation's research and re-supply vessel in 2020.

And there are calls to place a miniature reminder of the orange boat, Aurora Australis II, on display in Hobart where its mother ship once called home.

The work boat has been bought by the Aurora Australis Foundation from owners P&O Maritime Services for $1.

"Hobart had a huge fondness for the Aurora Australis, but many don't realise we have a little part of it left," former chief scientist of Australia's Antarctic program and foundation board member, Michael Stoddart, said.

"This was its work boat that was kept at the bow and lowered over the side to clear ice from the hose used to refuel the stations, enable scientific work away from the ship, or run mooring lines from ship to shore.

"It has some neat little features including a heated hull to melt the ice."

Dr Stoddart is working with federal Independent MP Andrew Wilkie, Hobart City Council, TasPorts and Macquarie Point Development Corporation to find space for the boat at the city's waterfront.

The foundation campaigned the government to buy and display the Aurora Australis, which is being revamped overseas by P&O for further polar work.

"We couldn't save the mother, but we can save the baby," Mr Wilkie said.

"This little orange work boat would wonderfully illustrate Hobart's long history as a gateway to Antarctica since the early 19th century."

Dr Stoddart said the obvious home for the boat would be the proposed Antarctic and Science Precinct at Macquarie Point.

"However, that's years away yet, so we are really keen to find a space on the waterfront to display the boat temporarily," he said.

The Aurora Australis is being replaced by the $529 million RSV Nuyina which is set to arrive in Hobart on October 16.

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