The Greater Hobart community has hailed the importance of Antarctica to Hobart’s identity, as the city prepares to officially farewell the much-loved RSV Aurora Australis.
According to a new survey commissioned by the Antarctic Cities Project, more than 72% of Greater Hobart residents feel Antarctica is important to Hobart’s identity.
The survey also found that more than one in three people (36%) believe Hobart should prioritise becoming a leading international scientific centre for the icy continent.
The survey quizzed locals in Antarctica’s five gateway cities of Hobart; Cape Town in South Africa; Christchurch, New Zealand; Punta Arenas in Chile and Ushuaia in Argentina.
The findings underline Hobart’s love affair with Antarctica with almost one in five respondents (18%) having attended an Antarctic-related cultural activity.
A total of 82% of respondents also agreed or strongly agreed that local government should lead the development of a plan to integrate Antarctica into the future of Hobart.
The survey comes as Hobart prepares to farewell the P&O owned RSV Aurora Australis after more than three decades of service.
The distinctive and much-loved orange vessel chartered annually by the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) will be farewelled at a Town Hall reception this evening to celebrate the ship and reflect on its service.
Lord Mayor Anna Reynolds said Hobart had long been recognised and celebrated globally as an Antarctic gateway city.
“These new survey results underline just how much the people of Greater Hobart also value our links to the frozen continent,” Cr Reynolds said.
Cr Reynolds said that our passion for our Antarctic connections was also reflected in our deep affection for the RSV Aurora Australis.
“When we farewell the vessel, we will be closing an important chapter in our relationship with Antarctica while also looking forward to the arrival of the new vessel.”
Cr Reynolds said City of Hobart was proud to play its part in promoting Hobart’s Gateway City status.
“As well as being immensely important to our identity, the Antarctic link also supports employment opportunities and brings economic benefits to our city.”
2020 was due to be a big year of celebration over our Antarctic connection but multiple events have been cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The events include July’s Australian Antarctic Festival, the 10th Council hosted reception for Antarctic expeditioners in October, the Scientific Community on Antarctic Research (SCAR) and Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programs (COMNAP) events, plus the 4th International Sub Antarctic Forum.
But Hobart’s status as a gateway to Antarctica will still be celebrated next month when several Hobart landmarks are lit up in an icy blue, along with Antarctic themed street banners and Antarctic content playing on The Loop digital art screen.
A total of 1659 people were surveyed across the five gateway cities for the Antarctic Cities Project with 276 responses from residents of the Greater Hobart region.
The Antarctic Cities Project is funded through an Australia Research Council Linkage Grant and partner contributions from institutions in Christchurch, Punta Arenas and Hobart including the City of Hobart and the Tasmanian Government. The project is a collaboration between these local partners, Western Sydney University and the University of Tasmania.