Sealers, shipwrecks and survivors inspire new names on Heard Island

King penguins on a beach on Heard Island, with the Big Ben volcano in the background.
Thirteen prominent features along the rugged shore of Heard Island have been named after sealers, shipwrecks and survivors. (Photo: Matt Curnock)

Prominent features along the rugged shore of sub-Antarctic Heard Island have been named after sealers, shipwrecks and survivors.

The Australian Antarctic Division’s Place Names Committee officially named 13 places on Heard Island, 5355 km from Hobart, and six in Antarctica, in August.

Heard Island’s rich history is reflected in the new names, which were suggested by a range of individuals with an interest in the island.

“Alfred Point is named after the whaling schooner, Alfred, which was wrecked on Heard Island in 1854,” Committee Chair, Ms Gillian Slocum, said.

“Watson Rock and Kelly Rock are named for survivors of the shipwrecked whaling bark, Trinity, which ran aground in 1880.”

In Antarctica, the Committee named an island near Mawson research station Maggs Island, after the late Tom Maggs, who contributed to the Australian Antarctic Program for more than four decades as a station leader, voyage leader and leading Australia’s involvement in the Antarctic Treaty system (Australian Antarctic Magazine 34: 25-27, 2018).

Other Antarctic place names include Wild Nunataks in Queen Mary Land, named in recognition of John Robert Francis ‘Frank’ Wild, a member of five Antarctic expeditions including the Australasian Antarctic Expedition (1911-14).

Mukluk Island near the Vestfold Hills is named after a soft book traditionally made by Inuit people from sealskin, and was a style of footwear worn by Australian expeditioners in the early days of the Australian Antarctic Program.

Eliza Grey