Territory

Wonders of Heard Island and McDonald Islands

King Penguins at Corinthian Bay, Heard Island
King Penguins at Corinthian Bay, Heard Island / laikolosse, Flickr / CC BY 2.0

WorldBlue  Highlights

Heard Island and McDonald Islands (external territory of Australia) are some of the most remote islands in the world. Very few people have visited them but these islands represent a truly remarkable sights.

Islands were included in UNESCO World Heritage List in 1997 and represent a unique site with unusually fast geomorphological processes and undisturbed ecosystem.

The most amazing wonders of Heard Island and McDonald Islands are:

  • Volcanic processes – here are active… very active volcanoes. As a result of their action, the islands form very impressive mountains rising tall above the ocean. Heard Island is 368 km² large – twenty thousand times smaller than Australia – but it has got taller mountain than Australia.
  • Pristine ecosystems – islands are located in a comparatively cold climatic zone, climate here is very harsh but, nevertheless, unique ecosystem has developed here. This is one of the very few ecosystems in the world without human-introduced species and without any notable human impact.

Map with the described wonders

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WorldViolet Top 7 wonders of Heard Island and McDonald Islands

Geological wonders

McDonald Islands

An active volcano, at least 230 m high. The interesting feature of this volcano is that over the last decades it has turned two of the McDonald Islands into a single island. Through the eruptions the area and height of the main island increased, connecting it with Flat Island.

Mawson Peak of Big Ben

An active volcano, last eruption took place in 2008, but there have been many more eruptions over the last decades, mostly fixed only by satellites from space. The tallest part – Mawson Peak – is the highest mountain in the territory of Australia (2,745 m). Satellite data shows that there might be located lava lake with a diameter of 100 – 150 m.

Mawson Peak, Heard Island
Stephenson Lagoon

Large glacial lagoon that is unusual due to hundreds of floating and stranded icebergs from Stephenson Glacier.

The Sentinels of Red Island (Cape Pillar)

Spectacular, vertical granite cliffs – pillars standing on peninsula.

Lava tunnels of Laurens Peninsula

Extensive network of lava caves.

Biological wonders

Doppler Hill King Penguin colony

Colony with more than 25,000 breeding pairs of king penguins (Aptenodytes patagonicus). This colony is not the largest in the world but nevertheless it is certainly impressive.

Cape Lockyer Macaroni Penguin Colony

One of the largest colonies of macaroni penguins (Eudyptes chrysolophus) worldwide. Here they live on a steep slope.

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