Gadget and Ginger are Australia’s newest Antarctic recruits — and they'll be based at Australia’s new ice runway at Casey station, to be known as Wilkins.

The Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, today announced the winners in the Antarctic Division’s nationwide student competition to name two new aircraft bound for service in Antarctica.

The specially-modified CASA 212 planes are undergoing final safety checks in Sydney before heading south to support Australia’s research program in Antarctica.

Gadget and Ginger are the names of the last two huskies that served with Australian scientist and polar explorer Douglas Mawson on his 1911–14 expedition.

Fourteen-year-old Gracie Falkenmire from the Presbyterian Ladies College at Croydon, New South Wales chose Ginger and seven year old Luke Clifton, of St Monica School, Kurrajong, also in New South Wales, selected Gadget.

Both students emphasised the important support role played by the dogs to Mawson’s team in carrying equipment and sharing the hard times the men were subjected to in the hostile conditions.

Gadget and Ginger will use the new ice runway at Casey station which has been named Wilkins by 12-year-old Joe Weiley of Broken Head, New South Wales. Joe is a student at St Finbars School in Byron Bay.

Joe’s reasons for choosing Wilkins: “It would have to be named after Sir Hubert Wilkins, the amazing Australian adventurer and pioneer of Antarctic aviation."

Senator Campbell said the Australian Government was proud of its research program in Antarctica and the competition was a great way of involving young Australians in that work.

“Hundreds of students from all states took part in the competition with many of them going to great lengths in their research,” Senator Campbell said.

“Antarctica has always held a special place in the hearts of Australians so it was no surprise that our young people were keen to get involved.

“Gadget and Ginger will now become prominent players in Australia’s proud Antarctic aviation history. Wilkins will be a major landmark in Australia’s Antarctic Territory.”

Senator Campbell said that the new aircraft would enable scientists to travel more easily and quickly to remote locations and transfer expeditioners between stations more efficiently than by ship.

Further information

Aircraft details

CASA — a subsidiary of European Aeronautic Defence and Space company (EADS), makers of Ariane, Airbus and Eurocopter.

CASA 212–400

  • is the latest light-transport aircraft to be produced by EADS.
  • is a twin turbo-prop featuring digital cockpit to reduce pilot workload.
  • has a comprehensive communication and navigation suite.
  • is equipped with the latest generation turbine engines, it can move larger payloads over longer distances with a fuel efficiency that now allows non-stop flights between all Australian stations.

Operators — Sydney-based Skytraders Pty Ltd will operate the aircraft for the AAD on a 12-year contract.