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The Greatest Story of Survival Thin Ice VR opens at the Australian Museum

Australian Museum 4 mins read

6 July, 2024, Sydney: Thin Ice VR opens at the Australian Museum (AM) on 6 July, taking visitors on one of the world’s greatest against-all-odds adventures following in Sir Ernest Shackleton’s footsteps on the ill-fated Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition. Shackleton’s ship, the Endurance, was trapped in Antarctic ice and had to be abandoned by the crew; what followed is regarded as one of the greatest survival stories of all time.


Created by adventurer, environmentalist and documentary filmmaker Tim Jarvis AM, the immersive virtual reality experience, which won the Best VR Film at Cannes and Los Angeles Film Festivals 2022, uses cutting-edge technology to allow viewers to experience the monumental challenges faced by Shackleton and his team during the last journey of the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration.


Tim Jarvis AM said Thin Ice VR presents a unique account of humanity asserting its will over the extremes of nature and highlights the environmental challenges faced in the Antarctic today.

“Shackleton’s journey of survival is a lesson in determination, optimism and the leadership needed to prevail against the odds. A hundred years ago, Shackleton’s goal was to save his men from the ice. Today it is the ice that needs saving from the human-induced climate change that threatens it,” Tim Jarvis said.

“The environment traversed by Shackleton has now been radically transformed by the effects of our actions. Just as Shackleton had to change course once his ship Endurance became frozen in the ice, so must we if we are to protect our world – the very foundations we stand upon.”


Australian Museum Director & CEO, Kim McKay AO said Thin Ice VR was a remarkable achievement in storytelling which reimagines an iconic journey for a modern audience.


Thin Ice VR places the viewer into the centre of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s epic journey across high seas on the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition. Supported by a crew of 27, Shackleton’s hopes of becoming the first group of explorers to traverse the Antarctic continent were dashed in dramatic fashion, and the Thin Ice VR demonstrates the courage and conviction these intrepid adventurers had to harness in the fight for their lives,” Kim McKay said.


“This VR experience takes us back in time to a remarkably different environment, but the themes of survival, courage and working collaboratively remain as relevant now as they were more than 100 years ago.”


In 2013, Tim Jarvis re-enacted Shackleton’s open boat voyage from Elephant Island 1500 kms across the southern ocean to South Georgia. His Shackleton Epic Expedition provided the foundation on which Thin Ice VR was created.


“I am privileged to have worked with Tim on his Shackelton Epic Expedition in 2013. Now the Thin Ice VR brings that odyssey to life in a way that can be experienced by visitors to the Australian Museum,” McKay said.


Thin Ice VR will screen in a specially created VR Theatre in the Australian Museums touring exhibition hall. Opening on 6 July until 13 October, Thin Ice VR takes the audience on an unforgettable real-life experience.


Developed with award-winning South Australian studio Monkeystack, and supported by major partner Torrens University Australia, Thin Ice VR is a 22-minute virtual reality film and exhibition which recreates Shackleton’s epic journey across the southern ocean to the extreme cross of the South Georgia Island, blending historical adventure with a powerful environmental message.



  • Antarctica Explorers, Breakfast Behind the Scenes:  Come behind the scenes and join Tim Jarvis in the Australian Museum’s historical boardroom for breakfast and hear of his adventures, set backs and his lessons on the great south pole landmass. Breakfast followed by the Thin Ice VR.

30 Aug 7.30am


  • Eureka Talks, Antarctica: Ocean temperatures around the world have hit record highs and the polar sea ice is receding. Hear the facts from the experts in this lunchtime talk, followed by the Thin IceVR experience. Tim Jarvis will be joined by senior researcher, Antarctica Division, Dana Bergstom, hosted by journalist, Jackson Ryan.  31 Aug 11am.                                                                                                


                                                                                                     #  Ends #                                                  

  • Thin ICE VR dates: 6 July - 13 October, 2024.
  • Tickets: (prices, age limits, sessions) book here
  • Duration: 23 minutes.
  • Facebook: @ThinIceVR / Instagram: @thinicevr / Twitter: @ThinIceVR


  • Editor’s Note: Images, biographies, footage here:
  • Frank Hurley images here


About us:

About the Australian Museum

The Australian Museum (AM) was founded in 1827 and is the nation’s first museum. It is internationally recognised as a natural science and culture institution focused on Australia and the Pacific. The AM’s mission is to ignite wonder, inspire debate and drive change. The AM’s vision is to be a leading voice for the richness of life, the Earth and culture in Australia and the Pacific. The AM commits to transforming the conversation around climate change, the environment and wildlife conservation; to being a strong advocate for First Nations cultures; and to continuing to develop world-leading science, collections, exhibitions and education programs. With 22 million objects and specimens and the Australian Museum Research Institute (AMRI), the AM is not only a dynamic source of reliable scientific information on some of the most pressing environmental and social challenges facing our region, but also an important site of cultural exchange and learning.

 About the South Australian Museum

The Museum cares for a wealth of treasures with national and international significance – it is admired for its world class collections, which have been amassed over more than 150 years and encompass everything from fossils of the first known life on Earth to pieces of Martian meteorites. The Museum’s collections are still growing and used each day in scientific and cultural research.

The Museum is one of Australia’s most successful research museums, with 152 scholarly publications and presentations in 2020/2021 and is a strong partner, with strategic relationships across the resources sector as well as with state and federal governments.

 About Monkeystack

MONKEYSTACK makes animation, experiences and games that entertain, engage, and educate. Proudly South Australian, they work locally, nationally and internationally across broad industries from entertainment, education, corporate and health; to research, manufacturing and defence. Over an 18 year history, the studio has produced award winning animation series, gamified entire theme parks, built apps and games, captured places and people in VR and AR, produced learning experiences and developed experiential spaces. They’re good people who like to work with good people to produce good things.

 About Tim Jarvis AM

Tim Jarvis AM is an environmental scientist, author, film-maker and adventurer, committed to finding pragmatic solutions to major environmental issues related to climate change and biodiversity loss. In 2013, Tim led the first authentic retracing of polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton's “double” – sailing a replica James Caird boat 1500kms across the Southern Ocean from Elephant Island, Antarctica to South Georgia.


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