Antarctica online: well worth exploring

Have you discovered the other Antarctica? Those of us who may never set foot there and seasoned expeditioners alike can navigate vast floes of information and resources at Antarctica Online, the website of the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) at

The AAD has a proud history of maintaining Australia’s ‘virtual Antarctic territory’ with its original website being one of the first to be created by an Australian government agency. The site is consistently among the most visited Australian sites on the web averaging 48,500 ‘hits’ from 3,170 unique visitors daily.

As you would expect the site is rich in photographs of the region’s unique environment and varied biological life. But the site is primarily a working resource providing crucial information for researchers, expeditioners, and the family members and friends of those wintering at our research stations and those venturing south during the shipping season.

With such a vast subject to cover, the site focuses on the core functions of the AAD’s role in administering the Australian Antarctic program – with emphasis on the science program, environmental management, expedition and station operations, Australia’s role in the Antarctic Treaty system, and the broad cultural legacy of Australia’s presence in the region. To achieve this the site content is structured into five thematic channels: Experience Antarctica; Protecting the Environment; Science; Antarctic Law and Treaty; and Living and Working in Antarctica.

Experience Antarctica is a good starting point for new visitors, providing an exciting selection of links that place Australia’s Antarctic science effort in a context of global environmental research. There are FAQs about a wide range of subjects, and regular updates covering the challenges of expedition logistics, sea and air transport, science support, people and events at This Week in Antarctica. Looking Up: Atmospheric Sciences and Antarctic Ice Fields explore what the polar atmosphere can tell us about tomorrow's weather and how the secrets of our planet's climate are drilled from thousands of years of compacted snow in the continental ice fields. Australia’s Antarctic Stations takes you to three continental stations and sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island, with a snapshot of life in the ‘freezer’. Getting there is an experience itself. Find out more about travelling to Antarctica on Australia's research and resupply ship, Aurora Australis, and our new air transport system.

Find out about the science research and grants application process, the Arts Fellowship, tenders and employment opportunities for technical and support staff. With the expansion of tourism to Antarctica and the sub-Antarctic, the site provides links to government policy, research and developments in the sustainable management of this new polar industry.

If you want an immersive internet experience go directly to what is happening now for images live from webcams at each station, or the latest live weather data collected by automatic weather stations in Antarctica and Macquarie island. Or view spectacular photographs from Antarctic Images or virtual reality (VR) panoramas created by AAD photographer Wayne Papps. You can also download your own desktop wallpapers selected from the rich photographic archive of the AAD’s Multimedia Unit. The Australian Antarctic Magazine is well represented. Download printable PDF files of each edition (with complete text and full colour graphics). The latest magazine issue is also available as html web pages.

Protecting the Environment links you to a wealth of information on protecting and managing the Antarctic environment, including the AAD’s Environmental Policy, specially protected areas, and Antarctic environmental laws.

Our mini-portal, Classroom Antarctica, provides comprehensive teaching units that can be built into literacy and science curricula, plus decorative book covers and other visual resources to inspire primary and secondary students – and parents.

As science is the central theme of the site, you'll find many links to key science concepts and policy objectives. The Science Strategy sets out how each of Australia’s Antarctic science programs meet expressed Government goals. Scientists wishing to conduct projects in Antarctica must apply using the online forms for Research & Project Applications. A database of publications arising from scientific research projects can be searched at the Publications site. Science in Antarctica reveals how the region generates much of Australia's weather, powers currents in the world's great oceans, and acts as a sentinel for ecological and climatic change. Fact Files cover a wide range of topics and Science Technical Support profiles the technology and scientific facilities needed to answer the big questions.

Antarctic Law & Treaty deals with all aspects of Antarctic Treaty (including the full text), the Madrid Protocol resolutions on the Antarctic environment, other international agreements such as the Law of the Sea, the international Treaty Partners and the Information Exchange arising from the annual Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meetings.

Living and Working in Antarctica provides a useful resource for prospective Antarctic expeditioners and their families and friends, with information about, among other things, clothing, health, quarantine, training, travel, field work and communication between Australia and Antarctica. For more information browse the Expeditioner Handbook, and read the Voyage Diaries and Personal Stories of icy adventures.

Site statistics as at 7 October 2002


Entire site (successful): 22,127,896
Average per day: 60,624

Page views

Page views: 5,047,219
Home Page: 602,260
Average per day: 13,827
Average per unique visitor: 8
Document views: 5,001,007


Visits: 1,440,029
Average per day: 3,945
Average visit length: 00:10:50

Most used search phrases

"Antarctica" (1st, with a misspelt version at 11th); "webcam" (3rd); "penguins"; "emperor penguin"; "krill" (5th); Macquarie Island (9th); "seals" (17th); Antarctic Treaty (20th)

Most Frequent Referrers

  • Google search engine (59% of referrals)
  • Environment Australia (website of the Antarctic Division’s parent Department)
  • Various independent webcam portals and weather sites

Most popular features

  • Mawson station web cam (114,500 unique visitors in the last 12 months), followed by the Davis, Macquarie Island and Casey station web cams, (separated by approx 10,000 unique visitors each)
  • Employment (peaked at 16,579 visitors in Feb/March 2002)
  • Going South
  • Australian Antarctic Magazine
  • Classroom Antarctica

Visitor country of origin

  1. USA
  2. Australia