Voyages to Antarctica

Exhibition Date: March 31, 2018 to April 25, 2018

Location: Mission Arts

A collection of photographs from Dr Thomas Bauer's private collection

Dr. Thomas Bauer – Voyages to Antarctica

After the completion of his Master of Business in Tourism Development degree at Victoria University (VU) in Melbourne, Thomas thought that he had enough qualifications to last him a lifetime but not so! He had been appointed as a lecturer in tourism at VU and the new rules were that staff were required to enrol into doctoral studies with the aim of obtaining the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD).

Initially Thomas had no idea what topic to research that would keep him interested and motivated for 6 years of part-time study. His masters thesis dealt with the lack of German speaking tourists to Southern Australia and this topic had potential to be expanded into a PhD thesis but for Thomas this would have been to easy.

Instead, and for no good reason, he decided to write the thesis on Tourism in Antarctica. In the Department of Geography and Environmental Science at Monash University he found two supervisors with polar interests and so, in 1991, he enrolled into the PhD programme.

At this stage very little was known about commercial tourism in Antarctica. In 1993 Thomas was granted study leave and for three months he had the keys to the library at the Scott Polar Research Institute at Cambridge University. In those pre-internet days research meant physically checking in books for references to tourism in Antarctica. Very few could be found. Some articles were critical of tourism taking place in Antarctica but Thomas discovered that the authors of those articles had never been to Antarctica and he set himself the task of going there so he could observe how tourism in this remote part of the world is conducted.

Well, he achieved his objective. In 1998 he was awarded his degree of Doctor of Philosophy and in 2001 his thesis was published a book, the first book by a single author on tourism in Antarctica.

His first voyage to Antarctica took place in 1994 and in January 2018 he has just returned from his 31st voyage. All but one of the voyages has taken him to the Antarctic Peninsula as well as the Falkland Islands and South Georgia.While aboard ship Thomas works as an expedition guide, lecturer, naturalist, historian and Zodiac driver. Most of his voyages were on ships with fewer than 100 passengers but during the last season he shared his enthusiasm for Antarctica with 200 Chinese travellers per voyage.

Thomas looks forward to the opening of the Voyages to Antarctica photo exhibition and is always happy to answer questions about travel to the last great wilderness area on the planet.

Photographic Bio

Thomas has taken photographs throughout his life. As a university student in the late 1970s he travelled in North Africa and South America and after his return from these trips used his images to illustrate the lectures on his travels that he was asked to give at adult education centres in his native Bavaria.

After graduation Thomas continued his travels around the world and from 1980 to 2005 supplied the Gruner and Jahr Photo Service in Hamburg with high quality photographs. Many of these were used in publications and advertising campaigns. One of his images was used as a poster in a national marketing campaign by a German bank.

During 1981 Thomas travelled up the East Coast of Australia on his bicycle. On his bike he carried a slide projector, screen and three hundred slides (that is as in Kodakchrome not Powerpoint ) of Siberia in the winter and Japan in winter and spring.

His plan was to give slide presentations at the campgrounds along the way but good old fashioned Australian bureaucracy prevented this plan from coming to fruition – he made many friends though.

In 1982/83 he found himself in the Fiji Islands where he established the South Pacific Photo Service and where he carried out photographic work for resorts such as The Fijian, Regent of Fiji, Mocambo Hotel and Hyatt Hotel as well as for Blue Lagoon Cruises.

To deliver the photographs to the clients required the films to be sent to Hawaii and it took three weeks before the slides came back!

After migration to Australia in 1986, Thomas and his family spent a year in Hervey Bay where he was engaged by the local tourism promotion board to take photographs. His images also graced the cover of several issues of the local paper and he went on assignment to photograph the Gold Coast from a helicopter.

During his time in Melbourne during the 1990s,Thomas was kept busy carrying out aerial photography work including an assignment to photograph the National Rose Garden at Werribee from above.

Thomas has been involved in Antarctic tourism for over a quarter century (he holds a PhD in Antarctic Tourism from Monash University) and since the first of his 31 voyages to Antarctica in 1994 has taken thousands of images of this beautiful part of the world.

After returning from two voyages to Antarctica in 1995 Thomas collaborated with the Computer Aided Learning Centre at Victoria University in Melbourne in the production of the Voyage to Antarctica video and in the creation of one of the very first CD-ROM's of images and video clips of Antarctica. Both products were successfully sold commercially including at the National Geographic Society in Washington D.C.

The larger images in the exhibition formed part of a solo exhibition that Thomas had at the Press Club in Bremen some years ago.

Anyone interested in travelling to Antarctica can contact me by e-mail thomasgbauer(at)gmail.com