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"Austral leader"arriving in Lyttelton early on 25th January 2003 from Macquarie Island.

The "Austral Leader" is a 85 metre long steel hulled fishing vessel owned by Austral Fisheries Pty Ltd and is registered at Fremantle in Western Australia. She was built in 1967 at Bordeaux in France and was previously named "Groenland" (1978), "Southern Leader" (1981) and "Harvest Leader" (1991). Between 1997 and 2000 she was the only vessel licensed by the Australian Fisheries Management Authority to fish for Patagonian Toothfish in the waters surrounding Macquarie Island.

On the 26th December 2002 she uploaded a team of New Zealand conservation Department dogs and handlers from MacQuarie Island and brought them direct to New Zealand offloading them at Nelson before continuing onto Lyttelton where she had a drydock booking scheduled.

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AUSTRAL 1.   2003 (January 25th) Envelope with AAT stamp posted Paquebot at Lyttelton.  Price US$5.

Note: the New Zealand Conservation Department Dog Team and handlers had been on Macquarie Island checking to make sure that the last feral cats had been caught and removed from the island. The Voyage from Macquarie Island to New Zealand by the "Austral Leader" was an official Australian Antarctic Division voyage (number 3.3).

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AUSTRAL 2.   2003 (January 25th) Envelope with New Zealand stamp postmarked Christchurch.  Price US$4.

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The view at left shows the "Austral leader' in the Lyttelton Dry Dock in early February with considerable work being done including hull painting to bring her up to standard after a hard season in the Southern Ocean.

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