The Australian Antarctic community is mourning the death of one of its expeditioners.

Paul Saxby from Kiama in New South Wales died during a diving accident at Eaglehawk Neck on the Tasman Peninsula at the weekend.

Mr Saxby was a carpenter who was to have spent next winter at Mawson station, helping to maintain the facilities.

Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) Director Dr Tony Press said that Paul had spent several summers at Australia’s Antarctic stations and this would have been his first winter.

“It was something he had wanted to do for a long time and had worked very hard to make sure he met the stringent requirements for those who spend winter in Antarctica.

“Paul made many friends within the Antarctic community over the years and his death has come as a shock,” Dr Press said.

“Our expeditioners for the 2003/04 summer and winter seasons have been training at the AAD for the past month and getting to know the colleagues they'll be spending time with in Antarctica. This week they are undergoing more extensive training at Bronte Park, and this news has obviously affected them.

“Our condolences go to Paul’s family at this very sad time,” said Dr Press.