Antarctica calls: The Canberra trio set off for the icy continent for dream adventures

Aurora Australis over Davis Station in Antarctica

Three Canberrans will soon embark on separate epic journeys to Antarctica. Photo: M Brill; Australian Antarctic Division.

Two Canberra high school students and a former Australian Border Patrol official are fulfilling their dreams of traveling to Antarctica.

Former Australian Border Patrol Commander Danielle Yannopoulos is set to take on her new role as Davis Station Commander.

“I have always wanted to go to Antarctica, but have always thought that one should be a scientist or have some special technical skills,” she says.

“It was highlighted to me that they have station manager roles, which was right up my alley.”

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Danielle has been training in Hobart for 10 weeks, meeting her team and learning about her role in the Australian Antarctic Division and why Australia is in Antarctica.

Going to the southern continent is a whole new experience for her.

“I have not lived and worked so secluded somewhere before,” says Danielle.

“I have worked abroad – I lived in Malaysia for three years, but it was a completely different environment.”

Danielle Yannopoulos with the team from the Australian Antarctic Division

Danielle Yannopoulos (back row, seventh from left) has trained intensively with her team in Hobart. Photo: Australian Antarctic Division.

Danielle grew up in Canberra and attended St Jude’s Primary School in Holder, then Padua High School and Daramalan College.

However, the many local winters she has experienced will prepare her for the minus-40 degree temperatures she will encounter in Antarctica when she leaves on November 3rd.

“I wanted to say yes, but I do not think so,” Danielle says with a laugh. “But I guess in Antarctica, like Canberra, if you have good heat inside, you should be okay.

“You just have to make sure you have the right equipment to wear outside. It’s all about layering.”

Davis Station in Antarctica

Temperatures at Davis Station in Antarctica can reach minus-40 degrees in winter. Photo: Greg Stone; Australian Antarctic Division.

The technology will allow Danielle to stay in close contact with family and friends while she’s away.

But she takes a few small luxury items to make life in the remote region a little easier.

“I’ve taken some of my favorite toiletries and packed an extra pair of my favorite jeans to be able to pull out in six months and have some new clothes,” says Danielle.

“Hair color is another thing I’ve packed.”

Naomi Leszczynska and Toby Davis

Canberra students Naomi Leszczynska and Toby Davis are on their way to Antarctica. Photo: Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions.

Meanwhile, two ACT college students will be on their way to Antarctica after winning an essay competition.

12-year-old Naomi Leszczynska of Gungahlin College and Toby Davis of Hawker College each won a seat on a 12-hour sightseeing flight on the frozen continent.

The Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions (ANARE) essay competition was open to all ACT secondary and university students.

Naomi, 18, struck with the opportunity to attend.

“I always wanted to spend a season working in Antarctica,” she says. “It’s a beautiful place.”

Her essay focused on the history of science and exploration in Antarctica, and how to help it deal with human influences such as climate change.

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“It’s such a unique and beautiful place, but it also has some extreme conditions that are the perfect place to push the boundaries of science and really test the limits of what we know,” Naomi says.

Toby, 17, is excited to win the trip.

“It’s crazy and super exciting,” he says. “I still don’t quite believe it.”

Toby’s essay focused on how art and science can help heal the world.

“I believe that through both art and science we can bring people together across shared experiences and stories,” he says.

Toby will fly on the first Qantas Dreamliner flight from Canberra to Antarctica in 2022, while Naomi’s flight is set for 2023.

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