'Ginger’ and ‘Gadget’ about to start work in Antarctica

Australia’s first Antarctic-dedicated CASA 212–400 aircraft have been named ‘Ginger’ and ‘Gadget’ after Sir Douglas Mawson’s sled dogs who accompanied him on his 1912 Antarctic expedition. The names were selected from some 300 entries by school children around Australia after a three-week competition in September. Seven-year-old Luke Clifton of St Monica School in Kurrajong NSW said ‘Gadget’ was the name of Mawson’s favourite sled dog who, like the aircraft today, played an important role in helping scientists carrying out Antarctic science. Fourteen-year-old Gracie Falkenmire of Presbyterian Ladies College, Croydon NSW, said ‘Ginger’ was Mawson’s last husky who, like others before her, helped carry explorers’ equipment and shared their hardships.

The names were chosen by the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, after recommendation by an independent panel. The panel consisted of Australian National University historian Dr Tom Griffiths, who is writing a history of Australia in Antarctica, Skytraders Chief Executive Officer Mr Norm Mackay, Australian Antarctic Division librarian Dr Andie Smithies, and Mawson Station Leader Ms Joan Russell.

A name for the new ice runway at Casey station has also been selected. ‘Wilkins’, proposed by Joe Weiley of St Finbars School, Byron Bay NSW, was recommended by the Antarctic Names and Medals Committee — responsible for geographical place names in Antarctica.

The new runway is over 3000m long and is located approximately 60km from Casey station and on flat glacial ‘blue’ ice. It is one of the world’s most remote runways and Australia’s first official runway in Antarctica.

Competition winners were announced on 18 November before departure of the planes for Antarctica. The three winners each received a notebook computer valued at $1600, and a certificate. Their schools received a multimedia Antarctic resource package consisting of books, DVDs, videos and CD ROMs, valued at $500.