Macquarie Island lies in the southwest corner of the Pacific Ocean, about half-way between Australia and Antarctica. Politically, it has formed part of the Australian state of Tasmania since 1900 and became a Tasmanian State Reserve in 1978 then in 1997 became a world heritage site. It was a part of Esperance Municipality until 1993, when the municipality was merged with other municipalities to Huon Valley.
The Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) maintains a permanent base on the island. The base's residents, the island's only inhabitants, range in numbers from 20 to 40 people throughout the year.
The Australian/Briton Frederick Hasselborough discovered the island accidentally in July 1810 when looking for new sealing grounds. He claimed Macquarie Island for Britain and annexed it to the colony of New South Wales in 1810. The island took its name after Colonel Lachlan Macquarie, Governor of New South Wales from 1810 to 1821. Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen, who explored the area for Alexander I of Russia, produced the first map of Macquarie Island. Bellingshausen landed on the island on November 28, 1820, defined its geographical position and traded his rum and food for Macquarie Island's fauna with the sealers.
In 1890 New South Wales transferred the island to Tasmania, which leased it to Joseph Hatch (1837 - 1928) between 1902 and 1920. Between 1911 and 1914, the island became a base for the Australasian Antarctic Expedition under Sir Douglas Mawson. George Ainsworth operated a meteorological station between 1911 and 1913, followed by Harold Power (1913 until 1914) and by Tullock from 1914 until its shutdown in 1915. In 1933 the authorities declared the island a wildlife sanctuary, and eventually transferred it to the Commonwealth of Australia under the administration of the Australian Antarctic Territory on December 26, 1947. The Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions (ANARE) established its expedition headquarters on May 25, 1948 on Macquarie Island.
On December 23 2004 an earthquake measuring 8.1 on the Richter magnitude scale (one of the largest earthquakes ever recorded) rocked the island, but caused little damage. Some considered this event part of the prelude of earthquakes prior to the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake, but seismologists have largely discounted this theory.
View over Macquarie Island beach (with Royal and King penguins)
Photo of a plant on Macquarie Island