World Travel GuidesHeard and McDonald Islands, Australian Territory

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Heard and McDonald Islands are barren volcanic islands which are part of Australian territory. They comprise Heard Island and McDonald Islands, which consists of McDonald Island, Flat Island and Meyer Island. They are located directly south of the Indian subcontinent, close to Antarctica, in an area referred to by differing definitions as Southern Ocean or Indian Ocean. Heard Island, the biggest of the group, has the tallest mountain in the whole of Australia, Mawson Peak, which is 2545 meters (9,006 feet) tall. It is one of the two volcanoes on Heard Island, the only volcanoes on Australian territory.

The uniqueness of Heard and McDonald Islands was the reason that they were inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites during the 21st session of the World Heritage Committee, held in Naples, Italy, on 1-6 December, 1997.


Heard Island, Australia
Heard Island, Australia

The island group has a total size of 372 square kilometers, of which almost 99% of the land area is taken by 368-sq km Heard Island. The McDonald Islands are small rocky islets with a total size of only 2.5 square kilometers.

What to See in Heard and McDonald Islands

Removed and isolated from the rest of the world, Heard and McDonald Islands exhibit a rare, pristine ecosystem. The islands are only visited by scientists.


World Heritage Site Inscription Details

Location: S 53 6 0 E 73 31 0
Inscription Year: 1997
Type of Site: Natural
Inscription Criteria: VIII, IX

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