This year marks the 30th year of service of Australia’s icebreaker RSV Aurora Australis. Launched in 1989, the distinctive bright orange vessel was built by P&O Polar, in Newcastle, New South Wales, specifically for the Australian Antarctic program. The 94.9-metre-long, 3,911-tonne ship provides the principal link between Australia and its one sub-Antarctic and three Antarctic research stations.

The Aurora Australis has berths for 116 passengers and is well equipped for marine science research, with a commercial-sized trawl deck and a hydro-acoustic system to help researchers study Southern Ocean organisms such as krill. Science conducted in on-board laboratories includes biological, oceanographic and meteorological experiments and observations. The ship is fitted with a helipad and hangar facilities for three helicopters. After 30 years of regular service in the harsh environment of the icy Southern Ocean, the Aurora Australis will shortly be replaced by a new custom-built icebreaker with state-of-the-art facilities.

The stamps, designed by Stacey Zass of Page12 Design, highlight various aspects of the ship and her surrounds.

The stamp and minisheet photographs are by Doug Thost, save for the $2 aerial view, which is by Sandra Zicus of the Australian Antarctic Division.

Products released in this issue

  • Minisheet
  • First day cover (blank, gummed, minisheet)
  • Stamp pack
  • Maxicards

Technical specifications

Issue date
25 September 2018
Issue withdrawal date
31 March 2019
2 x $1, 2 x $2
Stamp design
Stacey Zass, page12desig
Product design
Stacey Zass, page12desig
Printer - gummed
RA Printing
Paper - gummed
Tullis Russell
Printer: minisheet
Printing process
Offset lithography
Stamp size
37.5mm x 26mm
Minisheet size
B170mm x 80mm
13.86 x 14.6
Sheet layout
Module of 50
FDI postmark
Kingston TAS 7050
FDI withdrawal date
24 October 2018

Stamps in this issue

$1 RSV Aurora Australis
$1 RSV Aurora Australis and Adélie Penguins

Current AAT research is examining the feeding and breeding patterns of Adélie Penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae). Discovered in 1840, these medium-sized penguins are very adept at swimming. This penguin species is one of the five that live on the Antarctic continent.

$2 RSV Aurora Australis in high seas

Here we see the incredibly rough conditions faced by Aurora Australis, as enormous waves crash onto the ship. While designed to cross thousands of kilometres of the world’s stormiest seas, Aurora Australis has been known to roll up to 45 degrees in huge ocean swells.

$2 RSV Aurora Australis, aerial view

In the aerial view, we see the ship make her way through the ice-filled Southern Ocean. She has been especially designed to break through the thick ice. In fact, Aurora Australis can break through 1.2-metre-thick ice at a speed of 13 knots.

This content was produced at the time of the stamp issue release date and will not be updated.