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We have obtained wide-field thermal infrared (IR) images of the Carina nebula, using the SPIREX/Abu telescope at the South Pole. Emission from polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) at 3.29 μm, a tracer of photodissociation regions (PDRs), reveals many interesting well-defined clumps and diffuse regions throughout the complex. Near-IR images (1-2 μm) , along with images from the Midcourse Space Experiment (MSX) satellite (8-21 μm) have been incorporated to study the interactions between the young stars and the surrounding molecular cloud in more detail. Two new PAH emission clumps have been identified in the Keyhole nebula, and have been mapped in 12CO(2-1) and (1-0) using the Swedish-ESO Submillimetre Telescope (SEST). Analysis of their physical properties reveals that they are dense molecular clumps, externally heated with PDRs on their surfaces and supported by external pressure in a similar manner to the other clumps in the region. A previously identified externally heated globule containing IRAS 10430−5931 in the southern molecular cloud shows strong 3.29-, 8- and 21-μm emission, the spectral energy distribution (SED) revealing the location of an ultracompact (UC) H ii region. The northern part of the nebula is complicated, with PAH emission intermixed with mid-IR dust continuum emission. Several point sources are located here, and through a two-component blackbody fit to their SEDs we have identified three possible UC H ii regions as well as a young star surrounded by a circumstellar disc. This implies that star formation in this region is ongoing and not halted by the intense radiation from the surrounding young massive stars.