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‘Mini Orange Roughy’ Free to Good Home

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Media conference with Dr Michael Stoddart, Maritime Museum of Tasmania & Aurora Australis Foundation, and Andrew Wilkie independent MHR for Clark at Prince of Wales Bay, 30 September 2021. Andrew Wilkie I’ll say a few brief remarks. And then hand over to Michael from the Maritime Museum. Who really is the star of the show. […]

Media conference with Dr Michael Stoddart, Maritime Museum of Tasmania & Aurora Australis Foundation, and Andrew Wilkie independent MHR for Clark at Prince of Wales Bay, 30 September 2021.

Andrew Wilkie

I’ll say a few brief remarks. And then hand over to Michael from the Maritime Museum. Who really is the star of the show. I just want to say this look, it was a terrible missed opportunity. A while ago, when we lost the Aurora Australis, I was one of many people who did our best to have it stay in the state. At least it hasn’t been scrapped. It’s gone off to the Middle East for who knows what. But we have an opportunity obviously, to keep the Aurora Australis two, which is a little workboat from the Orange Roughy. The challenge is to find a place for it to call home. Now, a number of us have lobbied the Macquarie Point Development Authority, the Hobart City Council, Tas Ports, everyone we could think of, to try and find a home, a permanent home, for this striking piece of heritage. So far, no one’s come up with a place for it. So I’m taking this opportunity to call again on the Hobart City Council, Tas Ports, Mac Point, anyone out there who can think of a suitable place to make a permanent home for this fabulous piece of Tasmanian and Antarctic maritime heritage. We can’t let this be lost at the state. It is too important a piece of maritime and Antarctic heritage history. Thank heavens that local businesses have been prepared to host it. They can’t host it indefinitely. So that’s the purpose of today calling on all the stakeholders around Hobart to put their thinking caps on and put their hand up and be prepared to host his fabulous little boat.

Dr Michael Stoddart

Thank you, Andrew, this little boat behind us is indeed a lovely opportunity to be able to grab a bit of what Hobart is good at, and that is going to Antarctica, running an excellent Antarctic program. The Maritime Museum is keen to work with all these organisations, as Andrew mentioned, to find a place where we can put this little boat on public display, along with some panels to explain not just about the boat and it’s lovely features. If you look carefully at it, you’ll see all sorts of funny little things you don’t see on many other boats, but also to to tell people something about Hobart’s role in actually doing the work in Antarctica. Hobart’s been a port for Antarctica since 1840s. Since the 1840s many many expeditions have gone from Hobart not just in modern times but way back centuries ago. So here’s an opportunity to have a focus point somewhere in the area where tourists will come to, can walk around and can see this little boat and can wonder at all the things it’s it’s done and all the places it’s been, a lovely little piece of maritime history

Journalist – Alex Johnston

So ideally have it in the water people will say … oh well you tell me what the plan is?

Dr Michael Stoddart

No it wouldn’t wouldn’t be in the water, it’s working days are over. It wouldn’t be in the water, boats in the water take a lot of maintenance and you’ve got to keep at it all the time. This would be displayed as you see it behind us here on land somewhere presumably with some sort of security panels around it maybe glass I don’t know but no, kept on land. An exhibition like this ship, a little boat on the land, needs very minor minor maintenance only. It’s in very good condition now, it’s well painted up, it’s probably got 10 years looking like this. It’s no longer having to battle the Antarctic ice and the snow and the salt. So no, it’ll be sitting on a hard stand somewhere.

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Journalist – Alex Johnston

What are some of those quirks?

Dr Michael Stoddart

Well, if you look underneath it, you’ll find some radiator pipes. So when the water starts to freeze, and there’s a danger that the little boat might get trapped, it just pumps water, hot water from the engine, through these pipes, melts the ice and off it goes.

Journalist – Alex Johnston

It had quite a vital role? I mean, it’s big sister or brother was the star but it was pretty important as well?

Dr Michael Stoddart

It was used a great deal. It was used on maybe not every voyage but many many many voyages for a lot of things. It was used to ferry people from the boat to the station. It was used every time they refuelled the station with a floating hose pipe who needed that little boat to be pushing little bits of ice out of the way or mini icebergs out of the way. And it was used for hydrographic work, anything that you just need a little runabout, this was the Aurora’s runabout. And a lot of people have used it. A lot of people have very, very fond memories of it.

Tasmanian Times

You said you’ve spoken with a number of organisations Is it space, is it money, is it interest, what are the issues?

Dr Michael Stoddart

It’s not money, it it’s not money, it’s not it’s not interest, it’s finding a piece of space, the all the good space around the waterfront to run Hobart, there’s always something going on there or something about to happen there. We need 35 square meters that for a period of time is not going to be used for for anything, that’s the footprint of this boat, it’s about 10 meters long, about three meters wide. So about 35 square meters is what we need. Space, that’s that’s the only issue here.

Journalist – Alex Johnston

And the whole purpose is put it somewhere so people can see it, not have it tucked away in a shed.

Dr Michael Stoddart

Put it on display. Absolutely. That’s right. Because this is same colour as the Aurora Australis and the loss of that lovely orange bow sticking out there, right down the centre of town, is something that people are going to miss. Here will be an opportunity for them to sort of reconnect as it were to the last 30 years when the Antarctic program has grown from a little thing to a massive thing.

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Journalist – unidentified

Do you have an earliest memory of seeing Australis 1 or Australis 2?

Dr Michael Stoddart

Well, the first occasion that I saw the Aurora Australis was the first time I got on the Aurora Australis to go to Antarctica, and that was actually in Perth, in Fremantle. It had had a fire, and had been repaired in Fremantle, and I flew over and got on the ship there, that was the first time I saw it. I had a wonderful vision once some years later of flying in a helicopter in Antarctica, for a long way, maybe an hour and a quarter. And there far far away in the distance was a tiny little orange blob, which got bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger, we landed on the deck, and suddenly you’re back in this massive ship, with all the things that we have in civilisation or anything, get at my computer again, I could make a nice cup of coffee. And here it was, such an insignificant little spot. And it had taken us so long to get there. So it’s a it’s a pretty incredible trip.

Journalist – unidentified

And how long ago was this? How young were you at the time, if you don’t mind me asking?

Dr Michael Stoddart

Well, it was about 20 years ago, when I first joined the Antarctic program. And I’ve been a few times since on it and on other vessels too. Thank you.

Andrew Wilkie

I do I do have a boat footnote here. Look, we need to be fair dinkum about whether or not we are Australia’s Antarctic gateway. You know, we need to accelerate the development of the science precinct at Macquarie Point. We need to do everything in our power to be seen to be an Antarctic gateway that includes preserving our heritage. You know, people come into Hobart, thinking about our role in the Australian Antarctic program. They want to see things that reflect that. They want to see things like this, you know, if we if we don’t take every opportunity, including preserving the heritage of our involvement in Antarctica, then we weaken our position as the the national Antarctic gateway and we risk giving it up to places like Fremantle.

Journalist – Alex Johnston

What did you make the Premier’s comments yesterday talking about when to reopen Tasmania’s borders? He was learning on the side of caution saying modelling shows … (inaudible)

Andrew Wilkie

The Premier has my full support that we should take a cautious approach to reopening. That is certainly the feedback I’m getting from most people in the community, so long as that figure of 90% or whatever it eventually is, is firmly based in science and medical advice that I feel that the Premier is taking the right approach.

Journalist – Alex Johnston

What about the flip-side argument that if we don’t open by Christmas that businesses are going to go under?

Andrew Wilkie

If we open up too soon, then the businesses that are in very weak position at the moment, they will be crushed by the pandemic that will follow in the state. The Premier has my full support that we take a cautious approach. And we only open up when we are satisfied that the vast majority of Tasmanians have been vaccinated, the vast majority of Australians have been vaccinated. I would though call on the Premier to do more on the health front. It’s not just about our vaccination rate. It’s also about our preparedness of our public health system. Because whatever we open up, infections will come. And we need to be confident that our public health system is ready to cope for that; I am not confident that it is that it is ready for that. I’m not confident that enough work has been done over the last 18 months to ready us for opening up. So that really is the challenge for the Premier now.

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Tasmanian Times

In other jurisdictions they’ve done a lot of work on indoor air quality. Do you think that’s something that’s been adequately addressed in Tasmania, for example the improvement of ventilation in classrooms, government buildings and so on?

Andrew Wilkie

I’m not across that level of detail. I’ll link it to the point I just made though, about what have we been doing over the last 18 months to ready the state for opening up. We don’t appear to have bolstered the public health system. We don’t appear to have done all of the other things that should be considered such as ventilation in schools and in other public places to ready us. It won’t be enough just to say 90 or 95% vaccination, we have to have done everything else in our power to make sure that we are as ready as possible. And the circumstances will be as safe as possible. And I think in some of those other areas, the government has been lagging.

Journalist – unidentified

I’d love to take a U-turn back to the boat if I could. Tell me how old is this boat and what happens if it can’t find a home?

Dr Michael Stoddart.

Dr Michael Stoddart

Well, this little boat was built at the same time as the Aurora Australis. So it’s now a little over 30 years old, it hasn’t had a great lot of work. The engines have only got 1700 hours on them. And if you know anything about motors in boats, that’s really not a long run for 30 years, but it is 30 years old. If we’re unable if – and I don’t think that this is going to happen – but if we are unable to find any place where it where it can go on display, then I’m afraid it’s probably the scrapyard, which is where it was going to go. But for the public spiritedness of the owner of the land that it’s currently sitting on.

Journalist – unidentified

Where would you like to see it? Where would you like to see it have pride of place in Hobart?

Dr Michael Stoddart

There are lots of places I’d love to see it in Hobart. We’re working together with the City Council and with Tas Ports to identify where might be possible, and I’m sure that process is going to result in us having a good outcome. I feel good about it.

Source: Tasmanian Times https://tasmaniantimes.com/2021/09/mini-orange-roughy-free-to-good-home/#utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=mini-orange-roughy-free-to-good-home

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