Narelle Campbell's life in Antarctica

Narelle Campbell with her dog Gus during a chat at Coopernook School in 2013.
Narelle Campbell with her dog Gus during a chat at Coopernook School in 2013.

“It’s like a ski resort without the tourists.”

That  is how Harrington’s Narelle Campbell described living in the Antarctic.

Speaking on Antarctica Day, Narelle has spent five of the last 10 years living in the remote community, working as general manager of Australian stations in Antarctica, including Mawson, Davis Station and Casey.

Limited accessibility, seven to nine months of winter, meant a tenure of 12 months.

December 1 is Antarctica Day, celebrating the signing of the Antarctic Treaty in 1959.

The Antarctic Treaty was adopted by 12 nations, including Australia, to ensure Antarctica was used for 'peaceful purposes'.

Having spent so much time there, Narelle has a personal connection to the continent with fond memories of its beauty and the camaraderie she felt with the people she shared life in the stations with.

At the stations she stayed at there could be anywhere from 15 to 22 people living there over the winter months up to 130 in the summer.

She said Antarctica was stunningly beautiful and well protected.

“The treaty is there to protect it and keep it in its natural state,” she said.

“It’s the only place in the world you can get clean research because it has been untouched.

“There is no pollution or industry down there.”

Map of the Antartic research stations.

Map of the Antartic research stations.

The Antarctic Treaty was signed in Washington on December 1, 1959 by the 12 countries whose scientists had been active in and around Antarctica during the International Geophysical Year of 1957-58.

It entered into force in 1961 and has since been acceded to by many other nations. The total number of parties to the treaty is now 53.

Some important provisions of the Treaty:

  • Antarctica shall be used for peaceful purposes only
  • Freedom of scientific investigation in Antarctica and cooperation toward that end … shall continue 
  • Scientific observations and results from Antarctica shall be exchanged and made freely available 

Among the signatories of the treaty were seven countries - Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, New Zealand, Norway and the United Kingdom - with territorial claims, sometimes overlapping.

Protection of the Antarctic environment has been a central theme in the cooperation among Antarctic Treaty Parties.

In 1964, the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM) adopted Agreed Measures for the Conservation of Antarctic Fauna and Flora.

These Measures laid the basis for a regulatory system of general rules and specific regulations that provided extra protection in Specially Protected Areas.

Subsequently the ATCM adopted a number of measures on various issues to widen, complement and strengthen the protection of the Antarctic environment.