About the Australian Antarctic Festival
The city of Hobart is Australia’s Antarctic port and a thriving centre for science, logistics, shipping and crew transport servicing the Southern Ocean, Sub-Antarctic Islands and Antarctica itself.
Located at 42 degrees south latitude, Hobart is 2692 kilometres from the nearest Antarctic continental base – the French station at Dumont d’Urville, 3430 kilometres from the Australian Antarctic Division’s Casey Station and just 1500 kilometres from the closest Australian research station at Macquarie Island. The bases are served by an air link from Hobart International Airport.
It’s often noted that there are more Antarctic scientists located in Hobart than in any other city in the world and several important organisations are based here. These include the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS), the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD), the Commission for the Conservation of Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), the CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research Institute, the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre (ACE-CRC) and the University of Tasmania (UTAS). This impressive array of scientific expertise forms a large part of the Antarctic community found in Tasmania. Hundreds of staff at the AAD support the recruitment and training of Antarctic expeditioners and the operation of shipping and transport services. Dozens of companies supply food, fuel, specialised equipment and services to support Australia’s Antarctic program as well as the French and Chinese Antarctic programs.
Each season, hundreds of people in Hobart prepare for the program of explorations, research, maintenance and re-supply that will begin as soon as sea ice conditions in the Southern Ocean allow. The Australian icebreaker Aurora Australis and the CSIRO research vessel Investigator are familiar sights on the Hobart docks as they begin to take on stores and supplies for the coming summer. We believe this is an appropriate time to celebrate the work of the Antarctic community and the huge contribution it makes to the social fabric and working economy of Tasmania.
With a series of exhibitions, open days, school excursions, entertainments and lectures, we bring the Antarctic to Hobart. Join us for a fascinating look at the work we do in the coldest, highest, driest and windiest place on earth. Meet the expeditioners and scientists, the tradespeople and the chefs, the communications experts and the technicians who support Australia’s leading role in the Antarctic and Southern Ocean. You will be intrigued, surprised, entertained and amused at the details of how people live and work at -40˚C, or go for a refreshing dip when the temperature climbs to zero!
Best of all, thanks to the support of our many friends and sponsors, admission to almost all Antarctic Festival events is completely free to the public. Where we do ask for a donation, it’s to support the vital work of the Mawson’s Huts Foundation, who preserve a unique part of Australia’s Antarctic heritage: Douglas Mawson’s 1912 expedition huts at Commonwealth Bay in East Antarctica.
Paul Cullen is a veteran festival director with an interesting career path. As an executive chef with Sheraton Hotels, he travelled the world before settling in Tasmania. A fascination with Antarctica led him to take up the challenge as Station Leader at Australia’s Casey Station, where he over-wintered and completed 13 months on the ice. Returning to Hobart, Paul turned his hand to directing festivals, including the Midwinter Festival, the Taste of the Huon, the Taste of Tasmania and the Australian Wooden Boat Festival. He directed the 2016 and 2018 Australian Antarctic Festivals and is currently planning production for the 2020 event.
Irish-born, raised in New York and always hungry for more travel, Paul has visited and written about China, Russia, Central Asia, India, Europe and Antarctica.