Smuggled on board a Danish ship in 1961, Nelle Law was the first Australian woman to set foot on Australian Antarctic Territory. The first Australian man, Louis Bernacchi landed on continental Antarctica 66 years earlier in 1895.
Nelle 'Nel' travelled there with her husband Phillip 'Phil' Law who was the Director of the ANARE (Australia National Antarctic Research Expedition) program.
At this time Australia chartered Danish supply vessels to support our Antarctic stations. For the Danish captains it was normal practice to have their wives accompany them on voyages. This was not something that conservative Australian politicians endorsed.
Being somewhat less conservative, Phil smuggled his wife aboard the MV Magga Dan in Perth without the knowledge of Minister Casey who was there to see the ship depart. After her discovery Nel was permitted to remain aboard. This was to avoid negative publicity arising from her being removed from the ship.
Senator Gorton later replied to criticism of Nel accompanying Phil with;
I can see no reason in the world, when it causes no expense to the Commonwealth and no upset to anyone at all, why the wife of a man who for 13 years has done such a good job for Australia, should not have a chance to see Antarctica.