In December 2004, an 8.1 earthquake – one of the largest quakes ever recorded -- rocked the island along this fault, causing little damage to this tough little plot of land. No woodland plants or trees grow here, but the island is covered with grasses, herbs and wetlands.
Home to seasonal migrations of penguins and seals, the harsh weather conditions on Macquarie have kept it largely safe from human habitation. Discovered and claimed for Britain in 1810, then annexed to Australia’s New South Wales, the island was used as a occasional base of operations and weather station (and only briefly at any one visit) by an Australian team of Antarctic explorers from 1911 to 1914. Closed in 1915, the station’s buildings remain here, abandoned and intact.
Since 1933, Macquarie has been considered a Tasmanian wildlife sanctuary due to its rotating population of approximately 3.5 million seabirds, spread across 13 different species. In 1972, when it became clear that feral cats, rats and rabbits (all brought by explorers’ ships) were causing harm to these seabird populations and their breeding grounds, the island was officially named a Tasmanian State Reserve. In 2000, the last of these cats was culled, and by 2012, the rabbits and rats had been eradicated, as well.