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From the category archives:

Antarctic Connection


John Elder of The Age reports that:

The feral destruction of the Macquarie Island’s native vegetation is akin to Ayers Rock being taken over by 100,000 clowns with jackhammers or the Great Barrier Reef being used as torpedo practice …

… it’s like one of those movies where a team of rough and tough heroes are called upon to save the world. In this case, the survival of one of Australia’s ecological treasures depends on finding a dozen disciplined hunting dogs — and finding them fast.

Since rabbit numbers exploded on the World Heritage-listed Macquarie Island over the past couple of years, massive landslips – caused by overgrazing and tunnelling by the 100,000 bunnies – have sent entire hillsides falling into the Southern Ocean, killing king penguins and wiping out crucial albatross nests. At the same time, a living carpet of rats and mice have been feasting on the eggs in penguin and seabird colonies.

Macquarie is a sub-Antarctic island about 1500 kilometres south of Tasmania and a critical breeding ground for seabirds, including four endangered species of albatross, and delicate plant systems. It also serves as a unique geological snapshot of the world’s evolution, a record of life.

There’s more about Macquarie Island here …

Tasmania from space

Since our launch on July 1 we’ve recorded visitors from 117 countries, and had the odd email wanting to know where our island is situated.

With a bit of help from satellites and The Living Earth we’re able to show you exactly where we exist on the famous blue marble. Visit them to see a much larger image.

Tasmania is the last bit of green on the bottom, below Australia, with Antarctica being the next stop if you continue south. We’ve added a little white arrow to rub it home.

orcas hunting

Antarctica has a special place in the hearts of Tasmanians, and a visitor has pointed out this amazing photograph of Orcas sprinting along a channel which has opened in the ice.

It comes from an equally impressive photo-essay on Time magazine’s web site — Life Beneath Antarctic Ice by photographer Norbert Wu, who writes:

They are headed deep into McMurdo Sound, where they hope to find food.

They must hurry, however, for wind conditions can cause the channel to freeze again, cutting off the whales’ access to air.

Emporer penguins

Kingston-based marine biologist Lyn Irvine, and Andy Townsend, a Hobart freelance photographer and computer programmer, produce bestselling calendars each year celebrating Tasmania’s Antarctic connection.

Here’s a gallery of their inspiring work.

Casey station Antarctica

In the bleak black of winter — days and nights — our Antarctic teams, at Casey, Mawson, Davis, and Macquarie Island, still found time to party and celebrate mid-winter and the gradual increase in day length, although even now they can barely measure it.

We thought we would share their party pix.

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In an era before air transport, the port of Hobart was the city’s ‘gateway to the world’ including Antarctic and sub-antarctic regions.

Waterman’s Dock was a hub of port activity from the mid-19th century for many decades. Here, goods and passengers ferried to and from larger vessels moored in the Derwent River were loaded and landed.

When the Dock was built in 1854, people, timber and food were being shipped every week out of Hobart to gold rushes in mainland Australia and California, so it quickly became a centre of city life.

Today it is a reminder of the city’s strong and enduring economic links with the Antarctic and Southern Ocean.

There’s more fascinating information about Tasmania’s Antarctic connection on the PolarPathways website.