Places are similar and different: Macquarie Island world heritage area

Topic: Places are similar and different
Learning Activity
Schools & Teachers
Stage 2
Geography: Year 3 and Year 4
Students examine natural and human features of Australia. Students consider how people’s perceptions of places are the basis for actions to protect places and environments.

Key inquiry question #1

How and why are places similar and different?

Key inquiry question #2

How do people’s perceptions about places influence their views about the protection of places?

Content summary

The Australian continent 

  • investigate Australia’s major natural and human features for example:  (ACHGK014, ACHGK015)
    • description of natural features of Australia eg deserts, rivers, mountains  

Perception and protection of places

  • investigate how the protection of places is influenced by people’s perception of places, for example:  (ACHGK018)
    • description of how and why people perceive places differently 
    • discussion of how people’s perceptions influence the protection of places in Australia eg sacred sites, national parks, world heritage sites

Student Activities

Macquarie Island World Heritage Area

Students examine photographs of young sea-elephants and Royal Penguins taken 100 years apart

Number of set tasks:

Macquarie Island Australasian Antarctic Expedition

Students view sources relating to the survey of Macquarie Island as part of the Australasian Antarctic expedition in 1911 and contemporary images of the Island. They discuss why it was included in the World Heritage list.

Number of set tasks:

Frank Hurley's Perceptions

Students imagine that they are photographer Frank Hurley and respond to his images

Number of set tasks:

Background notes for teachers:

Macquarie Island World Heritage Area
“On 3 December, 1997 Macquarie Island was listed as a World Heritage Area - the second Tasmanian World Heritage Area. Macquarie Island is a site of outstanding geological and natural significance on a world scale.

The island is one of only a very few in the Pacific sector of the Southern Ocean where fauna in the region can breed. Around 3.5 million seabirds and 80,000 elephant seals arrive on Macquarie Island each year to breed and moult. Fur seals are beginning to re-establish populations on the island after nearly being exterminated in the early 19th century.”

“Macquarie Island is the only island in the world composed entirely of oceanic crust and rocks from the mantle, deep below the earth's surface. Macquarie Island provides evidence of the rock types found at great depths in the earth's crust and of plate tectonics and continental drift, the geological processes that have dominated the earth's surface for many millions of years. It is an island of unique natural diversity, a site of major geoconservation significance and one of the truly remarkable places on earth.

Notes on Leslie R. Blake’s Relief Map, 1913
“Relief shown by contours and spot heights. 

Map of the topographic survey which commenced on 22 October 1911, when the Australasian Antarctic Expedition (AAE) team of five landed on Macquarie. The main objective being the establishment of a radio station to relay between Antarctica and Australia. Leslie R. Blake was the cartographer and geologist in the team.

Blake's map remained the most accurate survey during the twentieth century, as it rains, snows or hails 308 days a year on the island, precluding remote sensing.

Blake's main contribution to AAE as a geologist and cartographer on leave from the Geological Survey Dept., Brisbane was the topographical survey on foot and by sea, and description of the island's geology. He collected rock specimens, and photographed royal penguins who breed only on Macquarie Island. (A royal penguin egg collected and signed by Blake October 20, 1912 is now in Aberdeen University' Zoology Museum.)

In 1914 Blake returned from Antarctica to carry out geological work in Queensland goldfields, but soon volunteered as a gunner, later a sergeant, lieutenant, and captain. He died in action on the Somme four weeks before the end of the war. Contours at 50 feet north of Lake Prion; bathymetric contours and soundings from Judge and Clerk Islands to South East Reef.” 

Additional resources

Picture books
One Small Island by Alison Lester and Coral Tulloch

Videos and Webcams
Macquarie Island station webcam 
Macquarie Success – Behind the News  

Teaching unit
Save One Island Save Them All 

Macquarie Island World Heritage Area 
Australian Antarctic Division: Leading Australia’s Antarctic Program 
Classroom Antarctica

NSW Syllabus for the Australian Curriculum Geography K - 10

A student:

  • GE2-1 examines features and characteristics of places and environments
  • GE2-2 describes the ways people, places and environments interact
  • GE2-3 examines differing perceptions about the management of places and environments
  • GE2-4 acquires and communicates geographical information using geographical tools for inquiry

Acquiring geographical information

  • develop geographical questions to investigate (ACHGS019, ACHGS026)
  • collect and record relevant geographical data and information, for example, by observing, by interviewing, conducting surveys, or using maps, visual representations, the media or the internet (ACHGS020, ACHGS027)

Processing geographical information

  • represent data by constructing tables, graphs and maps (ACHGS021, ACHGS028)
  • represent information by constructing large-scale maps that conform to cartographic conventions, using spatial technologies as appropriate (ACHGS022, ACHGS029)
  • interpret geographical data to identify distributions and patterns and draw conclusions (ACHGS023, ACHGS030)

Communicating geographical information

  • present findings in a range of communication forms, for example, written, oral, digital, graphic, tabular and visual, and use geographical terminology (ACHGS024, ACHGS031)
  • reflect on their learning to propose individual action in response to a contemporary geographical challenge and identify the expected effects of the proposal (ACHGS025, ACHGS032)
  • Place: the significance of places and what they are like eg natural and human features and characteristics of different places and their similarities and differences; how people’s perceptions about places influence their responses and actions to protect them.
  • Space: the significance of location and spatial distribution, and ways people organise and manage spaces that we live in eg. settlement patterns within Australia, neighbouring countries and other countries.
  • Environment: the significance of the environment in human life, and the important interrelationships between humans and the environment e.g how climate and environment influence settlement patterns; interconnections between people and environments; differing ways people can use environments sustainably.
  • Interconnection: no object of geographical study can be viewed in isolation eg interconnections between people, places and environments; influence of people’s values on the management and protection of places and environments and the custodial responsibilities of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.
  • Scale: the way that geographical phenomena and problems can be examined at different spatial levels eg types of settlement across a range of scales; the influence of climate across a range of scales.
  • Sustainability: the capacity of the environment to continue to support our lives and the lives of other living creatures into the future, e.g ways in which people, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, use and protect natural resources; differing views about environmental sustainability; sustainable management of waste.

Learning across the curriculum

  • Sustainability
  • Ethical understanding
  • Literacy
  • Personal and social capability
  • Civics and citizenship