Almost 1,500 km southeast of Tasmania and within the ‘Furious Fifties’, Macquarie Island was officially discovered in 1810 and named after the then Governor of New South Wales, Lachlan Macquarie. The amount of fur seals seen at that time led to extensive sealing in the early 19th century. When the Russian southern polar expedition under Bellingshausen went ashore in November 1820, the sealers had already depleted the fur seal colonies and started turning their attention to elephant seals. Eventually even penguins were hunted for oil.
As the island is about half-way between Tasmania and Australia, several expeditions to Antarctica have stopped there and either set up bases or collected specimens. Douglas Mawson had a wireless station set up acting as relay at what today is known as Wireless Hill. After Macquarie changed from NSW to Tasmanian jurisdiction, it was made a wildlife sanctuary (1933), a conservation area (1971), a state reserve (1972) and finally in 1978 became the Macquarie Island Nature Reserve. Since 1947 a continuously operating research station (Macca Station) exists in Buckles Bay.
Although Macquarie is home to up to 100,000 seals and close to 4 million seabirds, including Rockhopper, Gentoo, King and Royal Penguins, as well as Wandering, Grey-headed, Black-browed and Light-mantled Sooty Albatross breeding there, the island was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998 for its geological importance as it is an uplifted portion of seabed at the edge of two tectonic plates.