Quentin Bryce has become the first Australian Governor-General to visit Antarctica.
Ms Bryce took a day trip to Australia's Antarctic Territory as part of the ongoing centenary celebrations of Douglas Mawson's 1911-14 expedition.
The Governor-General toured the Wilkins Aerodrome where she used a hammer to "unveil" a plaque commemorating Mawson's journey by cracking the ice set around it.
"As a little girl I grew up with the stories of those men - Scott, Amundsen and Shackleton - but mostly Mawson," she told travelling media.
"Their courage and bravery, fortitude and determination were values that we grew up with and they were awesome and we admire them.
"It was an enormous pinnacle of human endeavour."
Ms Bryce left Hobart at around 4am (AEDT) for the four-and-a-half hour flight south on a government Airbus A319 which included a fly-over of Casey station.
She spent nearly three hours in the -8C temperatures before leaving after midday and arriving back in Tasmania at around 5pm.
The Governor-General had attended an Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) briefing on Monday where she was told about safety arrangements and what she could expect.
In Antarctica, instead of her usual designer ensembles, she donned a black and yellow AAD-issued survival suit as she toured Wilkins and spoke with scientists and workers from Casey, situated 70km away.
"It's overwhelming," she said.
"The word pristine is exactly what this is."
Ms Bryce flew back to Hobart with a group of expeditioners who have completed their summer work on the frozen continent.
She will visit Tasmania's bushfire-affected areas on Wednesday.