6 Feb 2013

Festival marks 100 years since Scott expedition

10:32 pm on 6 February 2013

A five-day festival started in Oamaru on Wednesday to mark the centenary of the return of Robert Falcon Scott's ship from its failed Antarctica expedition.

The surviving crew of the Terra Nova sailed into Oamaru on 10 February 1913 from the South Pole with word of the deaths of Scott and his companions.

Several thousand people are expected to visit the Oamaru Scott 100 festival. Waitaki District mayor Alex Familton said it is a celebration of the explorer's accomplishments and has been 18 months in the planning.

Events include an unveiling of a commemorative plaque, a play about the expedition and a dinner attended by seven of Scott's descendants.

On Wednesday, the Navy frigate Otago docked in Oamaru harbour, accompanied by a waka (canoe).

Meanwhile, Quentin Bryce has become the first Australian Governor-General to visit Antarctica, taking part in centenary celebrations marking the first Australian expedition there.

Ms Bryce visited Casey Station, a remote field camp, and took part in ceremonies commemorating the 1911-14 expedition led by Douglas Mawson, the ABC reports.

She spent nearly three hours in Antarctica before returning to Tasmania.