After 31 Years And 14,000 Trips The 'Orange Roughy' Is Retiring

After more than three decades of service, Australia's bright orange icebreaker is setting sail on its final voyage south.

The Aurora Australis will on Tuesday afternoon depart Hobart for its last re-supply mission to sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island.

More than 14,000 expeditions have sailed aboard the ship in about 150 research and supply trips spanning 31 years.

Aurora Australis in the Southern Ocean, 2016. Image: Doug Thost/Facebook AusAntarctic

"It has a really special place in the heart of expeditioners," Australian Antarctic Division operations manager Robb Clifton said.

"There will be a lot of people, myself included, who are sad to see the ship retire.

"I've had some amazing voyages exploring the food web and predator-prey interactions around the remote oceans at Heard Island in the sub-Antarctic."

The Aurora Australis will be replaced by a new and bigger $529 million icebreaker 'Nuyina' which is currently under construction in Romania.

Delays have pushed back the vessel's expected start date until January 2021 and it won't arrive in Hobart for trials until November,

The AAD is searching for an interim ship to fill in for 90 days during the summer research season at the end of the year.

Expeditioners holding up flares to farewell the Aurora Australis, as it departs Mawson research station in February. Image: Matt Williams/Facebook AusAntarctic

While Aurora Australis will soon hang up her Antarctic hat, she is expected to be given a different assignment by owner P&O Maritime.

The 95-metre-long vessel, which was built in NSW and launched in September 1989, may also be open to the public for a period of time.

Aerial of Aurora Australis during resupply, 2009. Image: Kym Newbery/Facebook AusAntarctic

"It's an iconic part of the Hobart fabric and landscape. I hope that Tasmanians maintain that connection over a long period of time," AAD general manager of operations Charlton Clark said.

Aside from a batch of expeditioners, the Aurora Australis will ferry cargo, fuel and food on its two-week trip.

Aurora Australis at Macquarie Island, 2015. Image: Richard Youd/Facebook AusAntarctic

Although alcohol is usually off-limits on board, a toast and on-deck BBQ will be held to celebrate the voyage.