World Heritage islands

A view of Macquarie Island station from North Head
A view of Macquarie Island station from North Head (Photo: A. Williams)
Aerial shot of Heard Island and Elephant Spit.King penguins at Macquarie Island

World Heritage areas are set aside for their natural and/or cultural values. Antarctica is not on the list, but Macquarie, Heard and McDonald islands are.

The international importance and values of World Heritage sites are recognised through their inscription on the World Heritage List. The World Heritage List includes over 469 sites worldwide. Australian areas inscribed on the list (such as The Great Barrier Reef, Kakadu, the Tasmanian South West Wilderness and Shark Bay) compare with other well known overseas World Heritage sites such as the Pyramids of Egypt, the Grand Canyon of the United States, the Taj Mahal of India, Westminster Abbey in England and the Great Wall of China.

In 1997, Australia's Macquarie Island and the Australian Territory of Heard and McDonald islands were inscribed on the World Heritage List; Macquarie Island mainly for its special geological values and Heard and McDonald islands mainly for their unique animals and plants.

  • Ask students to research what World Heritage means and why Macquarie Island and Heard Island have been selected for World Heritage status.
  • The Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities website provides access to information on all Australian World Heritage properties.
  • The UNESCO World Heritage List has details of the sites in more 100 countries, including virtual site visits, sites in danger and travel diaries.
  • Why is Antarctica not on the list? (One reason is that there are no unchallenged territorial claims on Antarctica, which means that it cannot be nominated according to current rules.)
    • Does Antarctica have World Heritage qualities? If so, what are they?
    • If Antarctica was inscribed as World Heritage, would it make any difference to what happens?
  • Can you think of another Australian site with exceptional natural and/or cultural values? Identify what it is that you want to protect so that your children can enjoy it. Prepare an argument for this site to be included on the list.
This page was last modified on July 1, 2014.