Australia’s season in Antarctica has wrapped up with the return to Hobart this morning of the research and resupply ship Aurora Australis.

Director of the Australian Antarctic Division Dr Tony Press said that a significant milestone had been reached during the 2004/05 season with the introduction of two specially-dedicated aircraft to support Australia’s science program in Antarctica.

“They proved to be a more efficient way of moving personnel and equipment between stations because of their greater range and payload compared with aircraft used in the past,” Dr Press said.

The Australian Antarctic Division’s final voyage saw the successful resupply of Mawson station where unusually thick sea ice previously prevented an earlier trip in February by another ship taking supplies to expeditioners.

However, the ice cleared sufficiently for Aurora Australis to sail unimpeded into Mawson’s Horseshoe Harbour three weeks ago.

“And while the wait for fresh food, domestic products, fuel for vehicles and other station needs, spare parts for machinery, personal effects and mail from family and friends was a little longer than expected, expeditioners are now well-provisioned for the year ahead,” Dr Press said.

Aurora Australis also collected summer personnel from Casey station and resupplied Macquarie Island station at the same time delivering personnel for the coming year and bringing home those who have spent the past 12 months there.

Also returning are three Antarctic Fellows who have spent the past six weeks experiencing Antarctica and the Southern Ocean that will be reflected in their various projects.

Margot Foster, Executive Producer of the ABC’s Bush Telegraph radio program has been collecting the sounds of Antarctica for a series of specialised projects including a soundscape for the Macquarie Island house at the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens and a radio documentary.

Frances Evans, a music teacher and composer from Geelong Grammar School who plays a range of string and keyboard instruments, plans to compose new music inspired by the sounds of Antarctica.

Alison Lester, a teacher and children’s author/illustrator with more than 25 published books, and will produce a book on Antarctica and a travelling, educative project for schools.