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Nella Dan Club Project


Nella Dan 1962-1987

Nella Dan sailed to the Antarctic every year of the twenty-six years she was chartered by the Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions (ANARE).

Built as an ice breaker by the Aarlborg Shipyard Pty Ltd, Denmark, in 1961, at the time of her construction, the Nella Dan was regarded as setting the standard for polar vessels. Her specifications included:

  • length overall 75.5 metres
  • breadth moulded 14.3 metres
  • draft fully loaded 6.268 metres
  • main engine turbo charged Burmeister & Wain diesel, with an output of 2500 IHP (Indicated Horse Power) at 300 rpm. The propeller blades were reversible.
  • speed 12.5 knots


On her last fateful voyage in December 1987, during resupply operations, Nella Dan dragged her anchor and was driven aground just metres off Macquarie Island. A decision was eventually made to scuttle her and at 05.42 pm on 24 December 1987, she was sunk in deep water off Macquarie Island.

*Source: About Antarctica, Department of the Environment, Australian Antarctic Division

Nella Dan Model 1970-1973

The concept for a club or joint build model model was introduced to the Ship Modelling Society of Victoria (SMSV) by Mr. Norm Neale at the November Meeting 1970. He proposed: “to construct a sailing model of a ship as a joint project for members”.

The choice of the Nella Dan as the subject of this model was taken in early 1971 with support being provided by ANARE in the provision of plans. The project was undertaken as a club build with the following members meeting two hours ahead of the main monthly club meetings to complete the model. The recorded (club newsletters) participants in the build include: Les Gooch, Norm Neale, Phil Molyneux, Tom Hadley, Kevin Lang, Bill Middleditch, Don McGraw, Denis Kendall and later Sid Rose.

The “remotely controlled” model took some 3000 hours to build and was constructed to 1/25 scale from Western Red Cedar, brass windows and portholes (with glass inserts) and the hull laminated externally with fibreglass. The overall dimensions of the model were 10ft x 18inches by approximately 18 inches draft. The model was powered by a 6V aircraft starter motor and controlled using a model aircraft RC unit. The model was capable of turning to port or starboard but restricted to forward motion only due to the complexity of trying to simulate “reversible pitch” propellers.

The model was launched by Mrs. Sid Rose at Albert Park Lake at 10:00 am on Sunday, 2nd December 1973. There were 14 SMSV members and 8 guests in attendance with Channel 2 providing TV coverage which was aired in the evening news a few days later.

The model was initially loaned to the National Trust (Polly Woodside) for display but in 2009, the model was returned to the SMSV. It was then donated to ANARE who shipped it to Tasmania where it is now part of the Australian Antarctic Division Library Special Collection. It is currently in storage between exhibitions.