Unique Antarctic backdrop for Australian citizenship ceremony

Man wearing a yellow jacket standing under a flag holding a certificate.
Terry Barrell has become an Australian citizen in Antarctica. (Photo: Jason Burgers/Derryn Harvie)
Man holding a certificate with two black and white penguins. Group of people standing in front of water. Two men wearing yellow jackets shaking hands.

What’s the coolest way to become a citizen of the country you love? Do it in Antarctica of course!

Icebergs, penguins and elephant seals were a unique backdrop for the Australian Citizenship ceremony on the icy continent.

Plumber Terry Barrell recited the Australian Citizenship Pledge on the shore of Prydz Bay in front of Australia’s Davis research station in the Australian Antarctic Territory.

Mr Barrell was born in the United Kingdom and applied for Australian citizenship in late 2016.

He has been working as a plumber at Davis station since November 2017, when he arrived on the Australian icebreaker Aurora Australis.

“I was granted my citizenship while going through my pre-departure training in Hobart, and was hoping to become an Australian citizen before I left for Antarctica, but there wasn’t time to arrange a ceremony before the ship left,” Mr Barrell said.

“Being able to hold the ceremony in Antarctica is amazing. It’s a beautiful place down here with views of the glaciers and out to the ocean with passing icebergs, it’s a day I will always remember.

“Becoming an Australian citizen in Antarctica is a great privilege, to be connected to this great place in any way is an honour.

Davis station leader Robb Clifton conducted the ceremony and said the weather was perfect for the ceremony, with clear blue skies and a temperature of −2.7 °C.

“At Davis research station we are one of Australia’s most remote and smallest communities, so to welcome Terry as a new Australian citizen while we are here is a unique experience that I feel honoured to be part of.”

Deputy Secretary of Visa and Citizenship Services Group from the Department of Home Affairs, Malisa Golightly, said Australian Citizenship ceremonies are an important part of our nation’s history.

“There are hundreds of ceremonies scheduled around the country this week, however this is truly the most unique being nearly 5000 kilometres from the nearest Australian capital city, and offers Antarctic expeditioners a perfect opportunity to celebrate what’s great about being an Australian”.


Australian Citizenship Ceremony in Antarctica

Video transcript

Terry Barrell: From this time forward, I pledge my loyalty to Australia and its people.

Robb Clifton: It's only the second time in history that someone has become an Australian citizen in Antarctica and also it's unique in that the Antarctic weather has turned it on for us and it's an absolutely beautiful day.

On Australia Day we come together as a nation to celebrate the cultures and traditions that migrants bring to Australia and the contributions that they make. Terry, we all warmly congratulate you today for taking the final step in your journey to become an Australian citizen and the contribution you will make to Australia.

Terry Barrell: I suppose personally I feel like I'm a full member of the team now. Becoming an Australian citizen in Antarctica is a great honour to be linked to this place in some way is quite special.

Robb Clifton: This is an amazing small and remote Australian community and so to welcome one of our community into Australian citizenship is really an honour.

[end transcript]