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Opened a seminar on the Antarctic

Today, His Majesty The King undertook the formal opening of a seminar on the Antarctic at the Australian National Maritime Museum. King Harald and Queen Sonja are spending the second day of their State Visit in Australia’s largest city, Sydney.


After completing the first day of their visit in the capital city of Canberra, the King and Queen travelled to Sydney, where their programme will continue over the next days.

Seminar on the Antarctic

Antarctica plays an important role in the relations between Norway and Australia, as both are polar nations that have territories in the Antarctic.

“Since the 19th century, seafarers, explorers and scientists from our two countries have been involved in mapping and exploring Antarctica and adjacent waters and archipelagos,” King Harald said in his opening remarks. “In the 1930s, Norway and Australia both presented sovereignty claims in Antarctica. We were two of the seven claimant nations that in 1959 signed the Antarctic Treaty, thus establishing peace and international cooperation as the underlying principles for the continent.”

Norwegian Roald Amundsen also figures in the polar history of both countries. Amundsen sent the telegram announcing that he had reached the South Pole from Hobart in Australia’s island state of Tasmania, and the original photograph of Amundsen at the South Pole is stored in the National Library of Australia in Canberra.

The governments of both countries are currently drawing up new national plans for the Antarctic; in Norway this will take the form of a government white paper. King Harald pointed to the work being done at Norway’s Troll research station in Queen Maud Land, which the King recently visited. The research conducted at the station will help to provide a management framework for the area.

New research fund

A new research fund was presented at the seminar today. The Antarctic Wildlife Research Fund incorporates representatives of Aker BioMarine, WWF Norway and the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition (ASOC). Researchers from around the world may apply to the fund for financial support for their projects.

The objective is to safeguard sustainable utilisation of marine resources in Antarctica. Krill – the most important food source for the majority of animal species in the Antarctic marine ecosystem – will be a key research field. Today, Elisabeth Røkke presented the first contribution to the fund on behalf of Aker BioMarine.

Australian National Maritime Museum

The seminar took place at the Australian National Maritime Museum. Following the opening, King Harald and Queen Sonja were given a guided tour of parts of the museum’s extensive collection. One of the objects they had the chance to view was Norway’s gift in connection with the Australian Bicentenary.

The gift was the yacht Kathleen Gillett. The vessel was built for Jack Earl – one of the founders of the Sydney Hobart Yacht Race – based on a Colin Archer design, and Earl sailed her in the first race in 1945. Two years later she became the second Australian yacht to circumnavigate the globe. The Kathleen Gillett is a ketch, and was named for Earl’s wife.

Reception for Norway in Australia

Some 10 000 Norwegians live in Australia, and more than twice this number of Australians have Norwegian ancestry. Many Norwegian students pursue part or all of their education here.

The Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron sailing club is a popular meeting place for the Norwegian sailing community in Sydney. King Harald and Queen Sonja met many members of the community at a reception held at the club today.

The King and Queen arrived by sailboat, of course. On board the schooner Boomerang, the King and Queen enjoyed the view of Sydney’s famed harbour from the sea, before sailing on to the yacht club.

Following the reception, King Harald and Queen Sonja met the press. Tomorrow’s programme will take place in Sydney as well. Activities include a meeting with representatives of Indigenous Australians and a presentation by the Queen of her artistic impressions of Norwegian nature.



King Harald opens seminar on the Antarctic in Sydney during a state visit to Australia 23 - 27 February 2015. Photo and edititing: Lise Åserud, NTB scanpix.

Facts about Australia

Capital: Canberra
Largest cities: Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth

Total area: 7 692 024 km² (Norway: 385 186 km²)
Population (2013): approximately 23 million
Official language: Australian English

Form of government: Australia is a federal constitutional monarchy under a parliamentary democracy. It consists of six states and two territories and was formed in 1901.
Head of State (2015): Queen Elizabeth II, represented by Governor-General Peter John Cosgrove.

Norway and Australia enjoy excellent relations, and the two countries collaborate closely within the United Nations and the Antarctic Treaty System.

Trade with Australia is growing, dominated by Norwegian exports. There are some 2 000 Norwegian students in Australia, and an estimated 10 000 Norwegians live in the country.

Source: Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs


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