Australia’s orange icebreaker sails to icy symphony


An Antarctic symphony of penguin calls and ship engine rumbles will pay tribute to Australia’s icebreaker as it nears the end of its career.

The Aurora Australis left Hobart on Thursday for its second re-supply trip to the frozen continent this summer season.

Aside from food, fuel and equipment for Australia’s Casey research station the orange icebreaker is also carrying composer Gordon Hamilton.

He’ll spend a four-week voyage recording an array of sounds, natural and industrial, to put in a symphony dedicated to the ship.

“The 20-minute orchestral work will capture the essence of the icebreaker, as well as the sounds, energy and landscape of Antarctica,” he said.


The icebreaker Aurora Australis.

The Aurora Australis will in 2020 be replaced by the billion-dollar-plus Research Vessel Nuyina, currently under construction in Romania.

Since being launched from a Newcastle shipyard in 1989, the Aurora Australis has carried 13,000 expeditioners across the Southern Ocean on 140 research and re-supply voyages.

This summer marks its penultimate season.

In a twist of fate, Mr Hamilton watched the launch of the Aurora Australis with his parents.

“I got splashed by the Aurora Australis at its birth and at the end of its service I’m here taking a ride and writing a piece about it,” he said.

Composer Gordon Hamilton at work.Photo: WDR Viersen concert

Composer Gordon Hamilton at work.Photo: WDR Viersen concert

Once it’s written, Mr Hamilton’s work will be jointly premiered by the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and The London Mozart Players.

Mr Hamilton is the artistic director of The Australian Voices and has previously composed a concerto that includes beatboxing.

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