Macquarie Island is a long, narrow, steep-sided plateau. It is only 34 km long and 5.5 km wide at its broadest point. The island is cold and windy, with frequent low cloud and strong westerly winds. Its nickname of ‘The Sponge’ is well earned: it has over 300 rainy days a year.
Macquarie Island was declared a World Heritage Area in 1997. The reserve is surrounded by the Australian Government Macquarie Island Marine Park. This is the second largest marine protected area in the world.
Of Australia’s 4 permanent research stations, the ANARE station at Buckles Bay on the northern isthmus of the island is the oldest. It is now the only permanent sub-Antarctic station for ANARE.
The first women to travel south with ANARE as expeditioners visited Macquarie Island in 1959. They collected scientific data in the field for their research. In 1976, the island was also home to the first woman to overwinter at an ANARE station.
Walking tracks lead from the station at Buckles Bay, to field huts in other parts of the island. Scattered reminders of past lives include objects from the earlier sealing industry and remains of the first scientific station established by Douglas Mawson.
Scientists on Mawson’s 1911–14 Australian Antarctic Expedition (AAE) studied many aspects of the island. During this period, the first meteorological reporting and magnetic recordings were undertaken as well as extensive biological and botanical studies.
Macquarie Island was also used by Mawson as a relay post for the first radio link between Australia and Antarctica.
Management plans aim to preserve the rich cultural heritage and natural beauty of Macquarie Island. One of the most significant conservation plans has been the Macquarie Island Pest Eradication Program (MIPEP). Completed in April 2014, MIPEP successfully eradicated pests such as rats, rabbits and mice from Macquarie Island.