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Heard and McDonald Islands

Some 4,000 km off the South-West coast of Western Australia lie the mysterious Heard and McDonald Islands in the wild waters of the Southern Ocean. The islands’ origin is volcanic, they are a habitat for sub-Antarctic plants and animals. The islands were added to the World Heritage List in 1997. Consequently in 2002, a Marine Reserve was added so that conservation values of not only the islands, but the waters surrounding them could be better guaranteed. The islands are so inhospitable, that individuals can not reach them; only scientists and naturalists can set foot on what might be some of Australia’s most fragile landmass. Heard, the biggest island of the territory, is 370 km2 large, whereas McDonald, with just 1 km2, is minute. The territory of the islands and waters surrounding them are overseen by the Federal Government in Canberra; the Australian Antarctic Division of the Department of the Environment and Heritage acts as caretaker.