Antarctica has no owner and no country can lay any claims on the continent. However, Antarctic bases are under the jurisdiction of the appropriate country making these remote places always a bit like the homeland. Recently, penguins living near the Australian Antarctic station Davis became witness of an unusual ceremony: The Australian Citizenship Ceremony.

The Australian station Davis is situated in East Antarctica directly on the coast of the Vestfold Hills, an ice-free area. It consists of 29 buildings, many of which are not in use anymore but counted to the Commonwealth Heritage list. Credit: AAD, Matt Low
The Australian station Davis is situated in East Antarctica directly on the coast of the Vestfold Hills, an ice-free area. It consists of 29 buildings, many of which are not in use anymore but counted to the Commonwealth Heritage list. Credit: AAD, Matt Low

What’s the coolest way to become a citizen of the country you love? Do it in Antarctica of course! Icebergs, penguins and elephant seals were a unique backdrop for the Australian Citizenship ceremony on the icy continent. Plumber Terry Barrell recited the Australian Citizenship Pledge on the shore of Prydz Bay in front of Australia’s Davis research station in the Australian Antarctic Territory. Mr Barrell was born in the United Kingdom and applied for Australian citizenship in late 2016. He has been working as a plumber at Davis station since November 2017, when he arrived on the Australian icebreaker Aurora Australis. “I was granted my citizenship while going through my pre-departure training in Hobart, and was hoping to become an Australian citizen before I left for Antarctica, but there wasn’t time to arrange a ceremony before the ship left,” Mr Barrell said.

Station leader Robb Clifton (right) presented the certificate to Terry Barrell under perfect conditions. Prior, Terry had to recite the official Australian Citizenship Pledge. Credit: Jason Burgers/Derryn Harvie
Station leader Robb Clifton (right) presented the certificate to Terry Barrell under perfect conditions. Prior, Terry had to recite the official Australian Citizenship Pledge. Credit: Jason Burgers/Derryn Harvie

“Being able to hold the ceremony in Antarctica is amazing. It’s a beautiful place down here with views of the glaciers and out to the ocean with passing icebergs, it’s a day I will always remember. Becoming an Australian citizen in Antarctica is a great privilege, to be connected to this great place in any way is an honour,” said the newest Southernmost citizen Terry Barrell. Davis station leader Robb Clifton conducted the ceremony and said the weather was perfect for the ceremony, with clear blue skies and a temperature of −2.7 °C. “At Davis research station we are one of Australia’s most remote and smallest communities, so to welcome Terry as a new Australian citizen while we are here is a unique experience that I feel honoured to be part of.” Deputy Secretary of Visa and Citizenship Services Group from the Department of Home Affairs, Malisa Golightly, said Australian Citizenship ceremonies are an important part of our nation’s history. “There are hundreds of ceremonies scheduled around the country this week, however this is truly the most unique being nearly 5000 kilometres from the nearest Australian capital city, and offers Antarctic expeditioners a perfect opportunity to celebrate what’s great about being an Australian”.

Terry, who proudly presents his Australian Citizenship Certificate, is curiously watched by some of the local natives Adélie penguins. Credit: Jason Burgers/Derryn Harvie
Terry, who proudly presents his Australian Citizenship Certificate, is curiously watched by some of the local natives Adélie penguins. Credit: Jason Burgers/Derryn Harvie

Source: Australian Antarctic Division