Australia’s Antarctic research and resupply vessel Aurora Australis has edged closer to Davis station, after breaking free from heavy pack ice over the weekend.

The ship was stalled 160 nautical miles off Davis by thick ice and blizzard conditions last week, forcing a rescheduling of Australia’s Antarctic program, including voyages to Macquarie Island.

The Australian Antarctic Division’s Operations Manager, Robb Clifton, said the Aurora Australis is now only 28 nautical miles from Davis.

“Good weather conditions and an easing of ice concentration over the weekend allowed the vessel to clear the heavy ice and we are hoping to start a fly-off to retrieve expeditioners from Davis today,” Mr Clifton said.

“Depending on how the fly-off goes in the next 24 hours, we’ll then make a decision whether the Aurora continues as planned to Casey or whether we send the resupply ship L’Astrolabe instead.”

Prospective departure dates for Voyages 5 and 6 to Macquarie Island will be known in the next few days.