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LAUNCH OF BRISBANE ANARE EXHIBITION


Brisbane
9 October 1997

Senator the Hon Ian Macdonald
Parliamentary Secretary to the
Minister for the Environment

Introduction by Syd Kirkby MBE:
Welcome to the Queensland Museum on behalf of the Director Alan Bartholomai and on behalf of the Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions Club of Queensland. You will see set up there the 50th anniversary exhibition to mark the Jubilee of the Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions.

We are particularly pleased to see here this morning representatives of the Queensland Museum Association; Dr Bartholomai, the Director of the museum; and also a couple of old friends. Not that we don't regard the Museum Association people and museum people these days as friends - they have been helping us with this exhibition for some months now. But particularly I'd like to welcome today Dr Alf Howard, who is the sole surviving member of Douglas Mawson's 1929/1931 BANZARE - British Australian New Zealand Antarctic Research Expedition - which undertook such important exploration and discovery throughout the Australian sector in 1929-31.

Welcome Alf, and long may you grace our affairs. And also to a new friend, a new old friend, Charlie Gibbs, who didn't know of us and we didn't know of him until very recently. So if nothing else good came out of our exhibition, it was meeting Charlie. Charlie was with Discovery 2 when it was sent down by the Australian and British Governments to search for Lincoln Ellsworth and Hollick-Kenyon, when they were thought to have gone missing on a major trans Antarctic flight from Graham Land right across to the Ross Sea.

Lincoln Ellsworth very indignantly declared that 'you couldn't have found me because I wasn't lost,' and there was actually some merit in what he said. But, of course, nobody knew where he was. Welcome to you, Charlie - pleased to see you. To our Club members, our Club Executive, welcome also.

I would like to give particular thanks to the museum for making this gallery space available to us. We are a very small organisation, and without your generosity in making the space available to us - and also the very considerable physical help that you have provided over the last week or two in actually mounting this exhibition, we could not have done it without you. Thank you very much indeed.

I will refer quickly to our sponsors. We have had no big sponsors in any real sense. But we have had a number of small sponsors: the Geographic Society, Australian Geographic, Hastings Deering, Education Department of Queensland. Those little fish were very sweet to us. They were also absolutely essential, so that we didn't have to mortgage our houses - well, so far we haven't had to - to pay the costs of the exhibition. So to our sponsors and their representatives here today, I say thank you very much indeed. We could not have done it without you.

I would now like to thank Ian Macdonald - Senator Ian Macdonald for making time available - Senator Ian Macdonald, Parliamentary Secretary for the Antarctic, who has understandably a very busy schedule. He has agreed today to make time available to come and declare the exhibition open. So I will hand over to you. And thank you, Ian.

Senator Ian Macdonald:
Thanks very much, Syd Kirkby, the President - or Chairman, is it - of the Queensland Branch of the ANARE Club, to Dr Alan Bartholomai the Director of the museum, and to your staff. Thank you for all you've done and thank you for doing this. To Dr Alf Howard, who as Syd has said, was on the BANZARE expedition way back prior to 1930 - or during 1930 and before and after. Tremendous to see Dr Howard here. He's Patron of the ANARE Club of Queensland. To museum friends who have assisted considerably, and to ANARE members, and ladies and gentlemen.

It's a real pleasure for me to be with you today to launch this exhibition, Our Frozen Frontier, during the 50th Anniversary of the Australian National Antarctic Expeditions to the Great South Land. And it's an exhibition that the ANARE Club members in Queensland have put together themselves. I almost feel like a bit of a fraud being here on behalf of the Government, because the Government hasn't done much towards this at all. The ANARE Club members themselves have been instrumental in putting it together. And more importantly, to me as a Queenslander, and as a Queenslander who comes from the north, I am particularly grateful to the ANARE Club for taking this exhibition right around the State.

I had the pleasure of catching up with them in Mount Isa, and it was quite incongruous to be right out in the centre of Queensland, a very remote part of Australia, and to see this magnificent exhibition out there. It's delightful, I think, that the ANARE Club of Queensland have got the exhibition around, and let it be able to be seen by many Queenslanders, particularly young people, who perhaps wouldn't have had the opportunity of this almost first hand experience with the Antarctic.

ANARE, as you all know, comprises the men and women who travel to Antarctica and the sub Antarctic regions with Australian expeditions. And this exhibition recognises the considerable distinction that Australia's Antarctic expeditioners have brought to this country since the commencement of these expeditions back in 1947.

The results of the work done by ANARE people over those 50 years have made a significant contribution to Australia's Antarctic reputation. We are seen as leaders in the Antarctic; we make considerable contributions to scientific research emanating out of the Antarctic; and we have maintained a standard of operations of our bases that other national Antarctic programs measure themselves by. And Australia's achievements in this regard are a direct result of the professionalism, the courage, the determination, and the commitment of our expeditioners.

Having mentioned those attributes, it would be appropriate for me to mention that Syd Kirkby is one of those expeditioners who demonstrates all of those qualities. As well as being President of the ANARE Club of Queensland, Syd and his dedicated fellow Club members - and I mention Vice President David Carstens - are responsible for putting this all together and getting it around the State.

Our Frozen Frontier has been - as well as to Mount Isa as I mentioned - also to Longreach, Rockhampton and Townsville, and it's being launched at the end of that tour, here in Brisbane today. If you pardon this pun, this display of selfless effort by the ANARE Club of Queensland, and by Syd, shows that it's really - that what Syd's done is really only the tip of the iceberg of a truly remarkable man, that Syd Kirkby is. Syd has explored more territory than anyone - living or dead - in the Antarctica.

In fact, he personally surveyed more Antarctic Territory than any other explorer, including even Australia's legendary Antarctic forefather Douglas Mawson. His contribution to the survey of the Australian Antarctic Territory was recognised in 1966 with the award of an MBE, and even when he's not there, his presence continues to be felt on the icy continent, with many features named after him. For example, there's a Mount Kirkby feature within the Price Charles mountain range; the Kirkby Shoal near Casey Station; the Kirkby Head on the Tange Promontory, and the Kirkby Glacier in the New Zealand sector of Victoria Land.

Now, are they all named after you, Syd - or do you have a brother, or someone else down there? So he's a really remarkable man. I just wanted to say that about Syd just to indicate the great quality in all of our expeditioners, and Syd is a very good example of all of them, and of the work he's done. And that work continues on today with this exhibition. So thank you, Syd, and thank you to your crew for everything you have done. Thank you to everyone who has come along this morning, and for the help that many people have given to get this exhibition up. And with that, I have very, very great pleasure in officially launching and opening this Antarctic display.

Commonwealth of Australia