RSV Nuyina

Australian Antarctic Program

Discover what the Australian Antarctic Program does and more about science at sea.

The Australian Antarctic Program is led by the Australian Antarctic Division.

How do you get to Antarctica and the Southern Ocean?

Antarctic research and resupply voyages depart Australia each year during the Antarctic summer (October to February). 

Most Antarctic voyages leave from Hobart in Tasmania, which is home to the Australian Antarctic Program. Australian Antarctic research ships serve as icebreakers and floating science labs. They also resupply Australia’s Antarctic research stations, at Casey, Davis and Mawson, and a sub-Antarctic station on Macquarie Island. Scientific expeditions occasionally visit Australia’s external Territory of Heard Island and MacDonald Islands (HIMI). 

An example of routes

An example of routes from the Australian mainland to sub-Antarctic islands and the Antarctic continent, with distances noted. While a commercial tourist vessel can make it from Hobart to Antarctica in 10–14 days, research voyages can take longer, because they are often undertaking research on the way down and back.

Adapted from: Map showing the distance between each station and major Australian ports. Courtesy Australian Antarctic Division

How much is Australia's responsibility?

Nobody owns Antarctica. The icy continent is managed by an international agreement called the Antarctic Treaty (1958).  There were 12 original signatories to the Treaty, including Australia, who agreed to oversee, study and protect all living and non-living resources on the continent and within the adjacent Southern Ocean (all waters south of 60o South latitude).

Australia has the biggest piece to care for.



The Australian Antarctic Territory is about 42% or 6 million square kilometres of the continent, plus 2 million square kilometres of the Southern Ocean. Together, these zones are approximately the same area as the entire continent of Australia. 

The Australian Antarctic Division, which leads the Australian Antarctic Program, administers all research and expedition activities within the Australian Antarctic Territory, including the sub-Antarctic islands.
The Australian Antarctic Territory

The Australian Antarctic Territory covers all land and water between 60° South latitude to the South Pole and between longitudes 160° and 45° East, except the French territory of Terre Adélie (between longitudes 136° and 142° East).

Adapted from Territorial Regions of Antarctica © Australian Antarctic Division 

What does the Australian Antarctic Program do?

  • Maintains Australia's role in the Antarctic Treaty
  • Protects Antarctic land and water environments
  • Works to understand Antarctica's role in the global climate system
  • Conducts scientific research on everything from marine ecosystems to the polar atmosphere
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How will RSV Nuyina support the Australian Antarctic Program?

Nuyina has unparalleled scientific, cargo and icebreaking capability to explore one of the last frontiers on Earth. It will be the workhorse of the Australian Antarctic Program during its 30-year life span, capable of resupplying more than one station at a time, with capacity to carry 117 expeditioners, 32 crew, 1200 tonnes of cargo and 1.9 million litres of fuel.
CTD under ice. Courtesy CSIRO Marine National Facility. Photographer: Rod Palmer

Science at Sea

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Created in collaboration with and sponsored by the Australian Antarctic Division to mark the arrival of new Australian icebreaker RSV Nuyina.

For more information visit the Australian Antarctic Division's dedicated webpage on RSV Nuyina