The 2012 Australian Antarctic Arts Fellowship has been awarded to Australian writer Favel Parrett.

Each year, the Australian Government awards an Arts Fellowship to enable outstanding applicants with a non-science focus to experience Antarctica first-hand so that they may communicate this unique experience and understanding to other Australians.

The Director of the Australian Antarctic Division, Dr Tony Fleming, said Ms Parrett would use the Fellowship to research a novel based on the Nella Dan, a supply ship that was used by the Australian Antarctic Division for 26 years.

“The Nella Dan’s service record remains unchallenged as Australia’s longest continuously serving Antarctic ship,” Dr Fleming said.

“This year marks the 25th anniversary of her scuttling off Macquarie Island, and Favel’s novel will draw attention to Australia’s rich Antarctic history and the Nella Dan’s role.

“The Nella Dan visited every one of Australia’s Antarctic stations several times, and supported major exploratory activities along much of the Eastern Antarctic coastline.

“From 1981, she continued to provide a research platform for Australia’s increasingly sophisticated and prestigious marine science program.

“Through this Fellowship, Favel will get the opportunity to experience first-hand what it is like to travel on a working polar and marine science vessel, visiting one of the stations and the areas that Nella Dan worked in.”

Favel Parrett, from Carlton, in Victoria, will travel to Antarctica on Australia’s current icebreaker Aurora Australis, leaving Hobart on 7 November. She will visit Australia’s Davis station before returning in early December.

Ms Parrett grew up in Hobart, and knew the Nella Dan well as a child — even keeping a photo of the ship at Heard Island on her bedroom wall. She has already interviewed many past crew and expeditioners who travelled on the Nella Dan as research for her book.

Ms Parrett was a recipient of an Australian Society of Authors Mentorship in 2009 and has had a number of short stories published in journals including Island, Wet Ink, Griffith Review and Best Australian Stories 2011.

Her first novel, Past the Shallows, was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary award 2012 and also won the Dobbie Literary Prize and Newcomer of the Year at the Australian Book Industry Awards.