Australian school children take their place in Antarctic history

Photo of people getting off a plane.
The children flew to Antarctica from Hobart in a A319. (Photo: Luke Bowden)
Students walking toward plane in semi-darkness.Child stepping onto the ice after walking down the stairs from the plane. Arrival at Wilkins Aerodrome.Children climbing out of vehicleChildren in front of a building in Antarctica. Standing in Antarctica next to a signChildren standing around a drillIce coring demonstration.Tasting the powdery snow.Secret Harbour Primary School students with the Minister.Students prepare for a snowball fight!Farewell to Wilkins Aerodrome.

A group of Australian school students have made history becoming the first children to fly to and set foot on Antarctica as part of the Australian Antarctic Program.

The twelve students, who won a competition to name the nation’s new Antarctic icebreaker RSV Nuyina (noy-yee-nah), flew the 6000 kilometre round-trip from Hobart to Australia’s Wilkins Aerodrome yesterday.

It was an exhilarating experience for the children from St Virgil’s College in Hobart, Tasmania, and Secret Harbour Primary School near Perth in Western Australia, when the Airbus A319 touched down on the blue-ice glacial runway.

The Years 5-8 students and their teachers spent three hours on the ice meeting Australian scientists and expeditioners.

They visited an Antarctic field camp with polar pyramid tents and drilled an ice core, learning more about the important role Antarctica plays in the global climate system.

A tracked snow vehicle, called a Hägglunds, transported the children to the Antarctic Circle where they took in the breathtaking enormity of the white continent.

An Antarctic adventure

Video transcript

Child 1: It was crazy stepping on ice knowing that I’m the first kid to step on Antarctica. It was just awesome.

Dr Nick Gales: Welcome to Antarctica! And today is all about you guys. It’s all about congratulating you for coming up with a brilliant new name for our icebreaker – Nuyina. And it’s also about teaching you about Antarctica and showing you what an amazing place it is and all of the wonderful work that goes on down here.

Child 2: We’ve taken an ice core, survival tent, looked at people’s houses - where they live. It’s pretty cool.

Josh Frydenberg MP: You are the lucky ones and today you are making history for Australia. For you are the first Australian students to fly and set foot on, Antarctica. You are continuing a more than 100 year proud Australian tradition of adventure and heroism.

Child 3: It’s just been incredible, amazing. A once in a lifetime trip. 

[end transcript]