Macquarie Island, Australia

Macquarie Island

Macquarie Island , -54.616667 , 158.85°E 54°37′ S. 158°51′ E. / 54.616667°S. 158.85°E (G) ) – is an island in the South Pacific Ocean (about 1,500 kilometres southeast of Tasmania), the overlying part of the oceanic volcanic ridge of the same name, about 120 km² in area and up to 420 metres above sea level. The island has the southernmost point of Australia.

It was discovered in 1810 by the schooner captain Frederick Hasselborough. In 1820, the island was visited by the famous expedition of F. F. Bellingshausen. The island was named in honor of the famous Governor General of the British colony (at the time) of New South Wales, Lachlan Macquarie.

There is no permanent population on the island, which is under the jurisdiction of the Australian state of Tasmania. However, the island is frequently visited by scientists. In addition, there is an Australian station Macquarie Island, which employs from 25 to 40 people depending on the season.

Nearby Macquarie is a small archipelago, the Bishop and Clark Islands.



The climate on the island is humid sub-Antarctic with strong winds. Average monthly temperatures range from +3.4°C to +7.1°C (annual average +4.9°C). The amount of precipitation is 912 mm per year, mostly in the form of drizzle and throughout the year. [1]

Flora and fauna.

Plant life is represented only by herbaceous vegetation, mainly sedges and tussock. The McCuori cabbage (Stilbocarpa polaris, family Araliaceae), endemic to the sub-Antarctic islands, occurs occasionally. At the northern tip of the island there are rookeries of sea elephants. On the coast colonies of penguins – king ( Aptenodytes patagonicus), donkey ( Spheniscus demersus), papua ( Pygoscelis papua) and the endemic penguin Macquarie. There are whales in the waters near the island. In coastal waters – thickets of large brown algae (Lessonia spp.).

The island is also inhabited by birds. Until 1890, the island was home to the endemic Makkuori leaping parrot, which disappeared after the introduction of cats to the island. Albatrosses are also common.

As a result of human influence on nature, rabbits and cats have been settled on the island. While the cats were declared exterminated in 2002, the rabbit population is estimated at about 100,000 individuals. Their extermination at the beginning of 2007 is only planned.

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World Heritage



  1. ↑ Macquarie Island

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Macquarie Island

Macquarie Island is a small island located in the sub-Antarctic in the southwestern Pacific Ocean about halfway between the islands of New Zealand and Antarctica. The island is named after Colonel Lachlan Macquarie, governor of New South Wales from 1810 to 1821.

Not far from Macquarie Island are two small island groups, which are the above-water part of the rock of an underwater volcanic ridge. The Judge and Clerk Islets (54°21′ S. 159°01′ E.) are situated 14 kilometers north of Macquarie Island and occupy an area of no more than 0.2 square kilometers. In turn, the Bishop and Clerk Islets (55°03′S 158°46′E) extend approximately 34 kilometers southward and occupy an area of no more than 0.6 square kilometers.

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The total land area of Macquarie Island is approximately 128 square kilometers.

The geographic coordinates of Macquarie Island are 54°37′ S. 158°51′ E.

At present the Macquarie Islands, Bishop and Clark and Jude and Clark belong to Australia and are administratively part of Tasmania. It is worth noting that Bishop and Clark Islands are the southernmost point of the Commonwealth of Australia.

View of the northern part of Macquarie Island from a helicopter.


It is believed that Macquarie Island may have been visited around the 13th or 14th centuries by Polynesians, who may have established temporary settlements there. But documentary evidence of these assertions at this time has not been found.

For Europeans Macquarie Island and presumably the adjacent islands were discovered on July 11, 1810 by the Australian whaling ship Perseverance, commanded by Captain Frederick Hasselborough. Frederick Hasselborough (in addition to Macquarie, he also discovered the Campbell Islands) declared them part of the territory of New South Wales and the property of Great Britain.

In 1820, Macquarie Island was visited by an expedition of the German navigator Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen under the Russian flag. On November 28th of that year, several sailors of the expedition landed on the island and raised the Russian flag over it. Subsequently, Russia repeatedly made territorial claims to Macquarie Island.

In 1877 the schooner Bencleugh was wrecked near Macquarie Island and the crew that survived lived on the island for 4 months. In 1912, the schooner’s captain and owner, John St. Inches Thompson, published a book, Voyages and Wanderings in Distant Seas and Lands, in which he described the episode in detail.

View of Macquarie Island from the southeast.

Between 1911 and 1914, Macquarie Island became a base for the Australian Antarctic Expedition led by Sir Douglas Mawson, which explored the adjacent islands and coast of Antarctica.

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In 1933, Australian authorities declared the island a wildlife refuge under the administrative jurisdiction of Tasmania.

On May 25, 1948, the Australian National Antarctic Research Committee (ANARE) established its base and meteorological station on Macquarie Island.

In 1972, founded in 1933, the reserve on Macquarie Island received state status and administratively came under the control of the Australian Government Department.

On December 5, 1997, Macquarie Island was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List mainly because of its unique geological and natural features.

On December 23, 2004 and April 2, 2008, submarine earthquakes of magnitude 8 and 7 on the Richter scale, respectively, struck the area of Macquarie Island, triggering massive tsunamis in the region. Human casualties in this case were only avoided due to the lack of population on the adjacent islands.

The east coast of Macquarie Island.

The origin and geography of the island.

Macquarie Island, Jude and Clark Islands, and Bishop and Clark Islands are the peaks of the underwater volcanic Macquarie Ridge that protrude above the surface of the ocean. This underwater ridge is located along the eastern edge of the tectonic plate at the boundary between the Indo-Australian platform and the Pacific plate. All of this gives reason to judge about the volcanic origin of these islands.

Macquarie Island has an elongated shape from north to south. Its coastline is relatively straight on the east and winding on the west, forming several bays and inlets extending into the land. Noteworthy among these are Sandell, Caroline, Hasselborough, and Bower bays. The coastline is full of rocks and underwater reefs, making it difficult for ships to dock. In fact the island consists of two parts: northern and southern plateaus, which reach a height of about 150-200 meters above sea level. The southern and northern parts of the island are connected by a narrow, flat isthmus. The highest point of the island is Mount Elder (385 metres) in the north-eastern coastal ridge, as well as Hamilton and Fletcher (about 410 metres each) in the southern ridge. There are several small lakes on the island, among which it is worth noting Faterful, Medger, Ellin, Iceland and Prion. Several small freshwater rivers and streams that flow into the ocean originate in the mountainous areas. Of these, Sauver Creek, which flows into the Pacific Ocean on the island’s east coast, stands out for its size and fullness.

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The islands of Jude-and-Clark and Bishop-and-Clark are peaks of submarine rocks protruding from the water by about 50-60 meters. They are all rock formations, which explains their lack of vegetation. Sometimes during high tides, most of them sink under the water.

View of the Bishop and Clark Islands from the sea.


The climate on Macquarie Island is classified as humid subantarctic. Strong gusty winds, which blow from the east throughout the year, are not uncommon on the island. Macquarie Island is classified as one of the places on earth that receives the least amount of sunlight because of cloud cover. In terms of this indicator (856 hours), Makkouri is second only to the Faroe Islands. The average monthly temperatures do not have significant fluctuations during the year and are in the range from +3 ° C to +8 ° C, with an annual average of +5 ° C. The amount of precipitation in the form of drizzle is a little more than 900 millimeters per year throughout the year.

Residential buildings and working complexes of the Macquarie Island weather station in the north of the island.


At present Macquarie Island has no permanent population. This is explained by the severe climate and remoteness of the island from the mainland. The maintenance staff of the ANARE-operated Macquarie Island weather station resides on the island on a watch basis. A group of 25 to 40 staff are stationed here at all times, depending on the season. The islands of Jude and Clark and Bishop and Clark are naturally uninhabited.

Sea elephants on the north coast of the island.

Flora and Fauna.

The flora of Macquarie Island is represented exclusively by herbaceous vegetation. Mainly sedges and tussockoms dominate here. Though rather rare, but still there is a herbaceous plant of the Araliaceae family, Stilbocarpa polaris, which is emdemic to these places.

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Sea elephants rook on the island’s northern coast and adjacent rocks. In the south and west of the island, on the coast of the bays there are huge colonies of penguins, among which stand out royal (Aptenodytes patagonicus), donkey (Spheniscus demersus), Papuan (Pygoscelis papua) and penguins Macquarrie, which are emdemic.

Whales approach the coastal waters of the island in winter. A large number of non-target fish live in the brown algae thickets (Lessonia spp.) off the coast.

Macquarie Island, like Jude and Clark and Bishop and Clark Islands, is home to a large number of seabirds, with cormorants and albatrosses predominating. On Bishop and Clark Islands in 1965, the largest colony of black-browed albatrosses in the southern seas was discovered. It is worth noting that the Macquarie Parrot, an emdemic species for the island, lived on Macquarie Island until 1890, but it is now considered completely extinct. This was due to the introduction of humans to the island and the subsequent acclimatization of cats, which after some time went feral. In 2002, the Australian environmental organizations announced the extermination of cats on the island, but at the same time there are still inhabited by the same people brought in rabbits, the number of which by the end of 2012 exceeded 100 thousand individuals.

Penguin colonies on the west coast of Macquarie Island.


Officially, Macquarie Island is closed to widespread human visitation. The number of people visiting the islands include employees of the meteorological station and naturalist scientists. However, three groups of tourists were reported to have visited Macquarie Island in 2011-2012 under the auspices of the Transantarctic Cruise, organized by an American tour operator. The total number of tourists who visited the islands is about a hundred people.

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