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2020 Australian Antarctic Festival Postponed

Owing to circumstances well beyond our control, we are compelled to announce a postponement of the Australian Antarctic Festival for 2020. Though the event was not due to begin until late July, the present restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic make it impossible to lay the groundwork for this large and complex event. We deeply regret the disappointment this represents to our staff, volunteers, exhibitors and our audience. Our intention is to resume the Australian Antarctic Festival as soon as conditions allow.

The Festival Program

The Australian Antarctic Festival presents a five-day program of exhibitions, tours, displays and lectures, almost all of it completely free to the public.

School tours run from Wednesday 24 August to Friday 26th August, then the full program opens to the public on Saturday and Sunday, including ship tours, the Antarctic Exhibition at Princes No.1 and Open Days at CSIRO and the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS). Enjoy fascinating displays at the Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery and other venues around Hobart.

Check back for program details as they are confirmed.

Festival Venues

The Australian Antarctic Festival takes place at several venues, the majority of which are either on, or close by to, the bustling Hobart waterfront.

Princes Wharf No.1
Antarctic Expo

26 August | 12 noon–4pm
27–28 August | 10am–4pm

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The Princes Wharf No.1 Shed is one of the largest exhibition spaces in the state, set right on the water in the Port of Hobart.

The Antarctic Expo features the large equipment used in Antarctica (sledges, Haaglund tracked vehicles, boats, helicopters) and numerous displays from companies and agencies that work in Antarctica, including tourism operators like Chimu. The Australian Defence Force and Elphinstone Engineering. The exhibition is free to the public.

Antarctic Stamp and Postcard Exhibition

26 August | 12 noon–4pm
27–28 August | 10am–4pm

To commemorate the important role that stamps, and postcards played in early Antarctic Exploration. The Australian Philatelic Federation is holding a Stamp and Postcard exhibition of nearly 1,000 pages of material showcasing this fascinating collecting area. In addition, there will be six stamp dealers selling related material. The exhibition is in the same venue as the Festival (Princes Wharf No. 1).

For further information contact Darryl Fuller or see the exhibition website.

Mawson’s Huts replica Museum
Family Day 

28 August | 10am–3pm

A fascinating re-creation of Douglas Mawson’s original expedition hut at Cape Denison, Commonwealth Bay in East Antarctica. The men of the 1911-14 Australasian Antarctic Expedition wintered over here, in one of the most remote and ferociously cold and windy locations on earth. 

The lawns of the Museum hosts family day,  while the interior of the museum is a remarkable immersive experience, full of authentic artefacts and equipment from this historic expedition. 

Meet working sled dogs and speak with team members from Sled Dog Adventures Tasmania on the history of sled dogs. 

We kindly ask attendees to refrain from taking their own dogs near the working sled dog team.

Mac 2 Tasports Cruise Terminal
Penguin Rookeries

25–28 August | 10am–4pm

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Come visit the Penguin Rookeries located in Hunter Street, the Mac 2 TasPorts Cruise Terminal is a multi-use facility.

150 schools are sent 50 Adélie penguins each to paint and return to the festival. Come and see the results of the extraordinary colour and creativity of the ‘Penguin Rookeries’ displays. We are hoping to receive more than 8,000 hand-painted Adelie penguin cut-outs by Australian and International school children.

The Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery (TMAG)
Expeditioners Exhibition:
Cape Denison 2021-22

25 August – 4 September

Closed Mondays

Life at Cape Denison in the 21st century looks very different to that during Mawson’s Australasian Antarctic Expedition of 1911-14. This exhibition showcases photos from the Mawson’s Huts Foundation’s most recent conservation expedition, taken by the expeditioners themselves. Although conservation works dominate the schedule, come and see what else our team gets up to down south – whether it’s surveying penguin rookeries and petrel colonies, installing weather stations and mapping photogrammetry of the huts, or baking bread and preparing a delicious Christmas supper, there’s plenty to do!

Bonjour Expeditioner

23 August – 25 September

Closed Mondays

Bonjour Expeditioner features postcards exchanged between Tasmanian primary school children and Antarctic expeditioners from the French Antarctic Program, which has been coming to Hobart for more than 60 years.

The return postcards, photos and answers to their probing questions provided an exciting opportunity for the children to learn more about the important scientific work done in the region. The project is a collaboration between the Tasmanian Polar Network, the French Antarctic Program, Lansdowne Crescent Primary School and Antarctic Tasmania.

Islands to Ice

Permanent Exhibition

Closed Mondays

The Islands to Ice exhibition provides a brilliant overview of Australia’s Antarctic history, including a fascinating examination of the science of ice, Antarctic animals and climate.

Salamanca Arts Centre
Antarctica: Valued, Protected and Understood

Presented by:
Australian Antarctic Program

25–28 August | 10am–4pm

More than a century ago, Australia was introduced to the wonder of Antarctica by the great scientist and explorer Sir Douglas Mawson. Understanding the continent is key to a deeper understanding of climate, weather and sea level changes.

As a nation, Australia has an enduring commitment to protect and preserve Antarctica for future generations.

Last Dance Orange Roughy
3D Virtual Reality Artwork

11-28 August | 11am–4pm

Closed Mondays


Last Dance Orange Roughy depicts the final Australian voyage of the RSV Aurora Australis to the Antarctic continent. Last Dance Orange Roughy is an immersive visual and sonic feast of three-dimensional environments and spatial sound visualising and sonifying the last grand Antarctic dance of the Aurora Australis, crew and expeditioners.

John McCormick and Adam Nash (Wild System) were the 2020 Australian Antarctic Arts Fellows on the final Australian voyage of the icebreaker Aurora Australis to the Antarctic continent.

This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body.

The Call of Aurora

25–27 August | 8pm
Tickets: $35 | $28 (conc)


A Chamber Opera about love, death and madness, by Tasmanian composer & librettist Joe Bugden.

Based on Douglas Mawson’s 1911-1914 expedition to Antarctica, this intriguing story focuses on events in 1913 when, having been stranded along with Mawson and his crew, and struggling to endure the eternal darkness of the Antarctic Winter, wireless operator Sidney Jeffryes goes mad, believing himself to be Jesus Christ. The Call of Aurora investigates Mawson’s relationship with Jeffryes, and considers how History can shine its eternal light on some people, whilst casting others into the shadows of obscurity and anonymity.

The Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS)
Marine Science

25–26 August

27–28 August | 10am–2pm

Photographer: Mary-Anne Lea

Located on the waterfront at Princes Wharf and Castray Esplanade – just across from Salamanca Place.

Immerse yourself in Antarctic science at the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS). What do rocks, ice, ocean temperature, salinity and marine life tell us about one of the most extreme environments on Earth? What kind of gear do scientists use explore these remote and mostly inaccessible ecosystems? Discover how Antarctica and the Southern Ocean are adjusting to a changing climate, meet the marine predators that call it home, and see some bright ideas from students exploring architecture through an Antarctic lens. See you there!

Antarctic Research

27–28 August | 10am–4pm

The Waterside Pavilion is next to Constitution Dock, Mawson Place.

Come and explore the where, why, how and who of the CSIRO Marine Laboratories in Hobart. Learn how everything from computer models to maritime engineering and technology help reveal the mysteries of our oceans and atmosphere – from tiny algae to the global climate.

Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR)
Phillip Law Lecture


In the beautifully renovated building of the historic Hutchins School on Macquarie Street, CCAMLR is one of the very few international organisations based in Tasmania. The gothic arches and stonework of the beautiful building house a sophisticated multi-purpose conference centre and lecture hall.

Several international conferences will be held here throughout the festival, along with the always compelling Phillip Law Lecture – guest speaker yet to be announced.

Hobart Function & Conference Centre
Australian Antarctic Festival Gala Dinner

27 August | 7pm–11pm
Tickets: $220–$2000

Celebrating all that is Antarctica, with iconic Australian speakers, giveaways, entertainment and a charity auction, a fun filled Antarctic night awaits.

Tickets include pre dinner drinks, a 3 course meal and an unlimited Tasmanian beverage package.

All proceeds go towards the Mawson’s Huts Foundation and their mission to inspire and educate the next generation of Antarctic explorers and preserve Australia’s unique Antarctic Heritage.

Maritime Museum of Tasmania
Ice in the Rigging – Antarctic Shippping

8 August – 13 November

The Southern Ocean is a most forbidding stretch of water. Any ship that deems to cross it must be well prepared with a stout-hearted crew. This exhibition features some of the vessels that have made the perilous journey to the icy continent, and the increasing role of Hobart as a gateway to the south.

Count the Penguins.
You can help save them!

Want to be involved in a community science research program?

An Oxford University research team in the UK have launched a project that marries community support and online technology in the name of penguin conservation.

It’s called PenguinWatch – volunteers are asked to count penguins in a series of photographs taken across the continent of Antarctica. After a brief tutorial, anyone can use simple tools to mark chicks, eggs, and adults in each penguin colony, to assist with the team’s conservation and research efforts.

Antarctic Film Festival


An icon of entertainment for generations of Tasmanians’ for over 100 years, there is a popular Rooftop cinema, bar & bookstore on the premises.

Antarctic Film Festival …

Choir Recitals


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Situated on one of the finest Georgian streetscapes in Australia, the superior organs and acoustics of this Anglican Church demand frequent concerts.

Details to come



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An historical sandstone building located on Macquarie Street, the town hall has a magnificent auditorium.

Experience the talent of the Derwent Symphony Orchestra, as they present a concert of popular music from Douglas Mawson’s era.



Festival Parking

See the Hobart City Council’s parking information and maps

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