SYDNEY Dec 6 There are times when the sun never
sets on Antarctica, but a long-term Australian programme
encouraging people to "live the dream" and work in the vast
frozen landscape is having to extend a deadline for the project
due to a shortage of applicants.
For decades a potential job for adventurous youth seeking to
see a part of the world most people never get to, the programme
has been going for nearly 100 years since the first Australian
explorer, Sir Douglas Mawson, sailed into Commonwealth Bay in
East Antarctica in an expedition from 1911 to 1914.
But the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD), which each year
offers employment stints ranging from six months for a summer
season to 16 months that include a winter, said that
applications for 2013-2014 fell by roughly 1,000 from last
year's 2,200, and so the deadline is being extended.
Though the reasons for the drop are unclear, Australia's
current mining boom, with its high salaries, is likely to be
siphoning off a number of potential applicants, said Rob Bryson,
AAD Territories, Environment and Treaties Section Manager.
"The people we are targeting are heavily sought after,
particularly in the mining and the oil and gas industry,
especially trades people," he said.
But the overall recruiting goals are relatively broad. In
addition to most trade requirements, including carpenters,
plumbers, builders and mechanics, the AAD also seeks chefs,
field training offers and logistical and medical staff.
The average trade salary is approximately A$150,000
($156,700) compared to a fly-in fly-out miner whose average
salary is A$200,000 ($209,000).
Two main categories of applicants are young people who
haven't started families yet and those whose children are ready
to leave home. Both are looking for a challenge and can fit into
a team of people capable of building and sustaining a community
in a remote and hostile environment.
Bryson said that despite hardships such as isolation and
long times away from family and friends, the job offers
immeasurable intangible benefits for the right people to come
and "live the dream".
"We may not offer the same money as the fly-in fly-out
miners are getting, but we can offer a breathtaking environment
to operate in. Very few people in the history of humanity have
actually been to Antarctica," Bryson said.
"Remoteness is the big issue and being away from family
plays on people's minds. However, these things haven't changed
in the last 70 years since the Antarctic Division has been
Applications, which now close on Jan 10, 2013, are normally
confined to Australian citizens but Bryson said they would look
at all opportunities.
Details are on
($1 = A$0.957)
(Reporting by Pauline Askin; Editing by Elaine Lies and Nick