r/todayilearned May 24 '22

TIL Australia has 2 active volcanoes on Heard & McDonald Islands, one of the remotest places on earth. It is very cold, mostly barren, erupts frequently and has many wrecks around it. It has 71 species of fungi and was recently involved in legal proceedings between two entities (Australia & the UK).



u/mygoldfishaccount May 24 '22

I saw a doco and part of it involved a tribe in nth Australia that had a story of how some rocks near a mountain had been spat out by the mountain.in fire. Scientists confirmed the rocks were volcanic and had been spat out of the mountain…….about 40,000 years ago.


u/winnipeginstinct May 24 '22

its crazy how long humans have been in australia, especially when you consider people only crossed to the americas 10-15k years ago


u/Quadrassic_Bark May 24 '22

At this point it’s basically a sure thing that is was minimum 15,000. There are plenty of sites along the west coast of the Americas in the 13-14,000 year range.


u/saxmancooksthings May 24 '22 edited May 24 '22

To follow up; there were footprints found in white sands national park that are dated to 23kbp

Edit: love the downvotes that are likely from some layman that still thinks the Clovis first they were taught in 1995 in high school is still correct.


u/lysianth May 24 '22

People made it to Hawaii

Like, think about it, how in the flying fuck did they find it?


u/oioioiyacunt May 25 '22

Imagine all the ones that missed it


u/Less-Market9641 May 25 '22

I have often thought about that.....


u/Thrallov May 25 '22

Pure luck they got dragged in stream that goes there


u/buttlickka May 25 '22

I believe it was the Maori people from New Zealand. They were the people who populated alot of the island nations around these parts.


u/Specific-Syllabub969 May 25 '22

Strangely enough, New Zealand was the one of the last Pacific Islands to become inhabited. The Maori did not arrive until the mid 14th century. Native Hawaiians arrived shortly before that, but there may have already been inhabitants from the 3rd century.


u/saxmancooksthings May 24 '22

The white sands footprints show they were there for 23kbp.


u/VisVirtusque May 24 '22

I mean, it's also possible that they were able to recognize that those are the types of rocks that would "come from a mountain in fire" and then either created the story around that, or the story already existed and those rocks were just attached to it.....


u/mygoldfishaccount May 24 '22

Of course but Mungo man has been dated to the same sort of age so it is possible an oral history survived in that Dreamtime story. I’d love to visit Australia pre colonisation, there’d be ample surprises I’m sure. As a teen we used to sometimes visit a rock platform in the local bush. It had carvings of different animals including kangaroos. That bush is extremely thick though, definitely not roo country which told us fire stick farming happened in the area, a technique where the undergrowth would be regularly burned to encourage grass eating mammals like kangaroos to feed there. If you look at early colonial pictures of the NSW coast (especially Sydney where they were based) the coast is mainly grassland where as today anywhere not developed is bush due to the absence of regular burns. They’d even do tricky stuff like leave the scrub around waterholes except for one narrow passage where they’d club the animals as they came down to drink.


u/unlikelyandroid May 24 '22

Heard island is 517m taller than any mountain on Australia's mainland.


u/Quadrassic_Bark May 24 '22

It’s 517m taller than one mountain. It’s even more taller than the rest.


u/chrisbkreme May 24 '22

Knowing these are Australian islands is very deceptive. It’s roughly the same distance between US and Hawaii. It’s also nearly halfway between Australia and South Africa. So it’s nowhere near Australia’s mainland borders.


u/chakalakalakalaka May 24 '22

Closer than the UK though


u/Fuego_9000 May 24 '22

If it exists, it is potentially an overseas British territory.

Just like the moon.


u/bob-the-world-eater May 24 '22 Silver

We aren't interested in The Moon as the climate isn't very good for growing tea. Even if it was, there aren't any natives for us to farm it with.


u/broom-handle May 24 '22

Yeah, like that's stopped us before.

This is not meant to sound positive btw.


u/wedontlikespaces May 24 '22

That's not how it works. Territory doesn't belongs to a country simply because it's nearer. It is a good rule of thumb but it's not automatic.

Look at Pearl Harbour.

Also precedent is important. If a territory has been claimed by one country for long enough it kind of becomes automatic. Regardless of how legitimate that claim may or may not have originally been.

This is kind of the situation with the Falkland Islands. Regardless of what Argentina may think there have been people who have been British citizens living on the islands for decades before Argentina even became an independent nation state, so as far as the international community is concerned it's British, end of discussion.


u/KypDurron May 24 '22

It's a lot easier to say "This island is part of X country" when you have a community of people living there, and the majority of those people repeatedly express their desire to remain part of such-and-such a country.

But these are uninhabited islands. You can't go to the residents and ask them what country they want to be a part of, when there's no residents.

But anyway, the title is really misleading. The entire history of the islands and their legal status and ownership is as follows. None of it is "recent".

  • 1910: Claimed by the British

  • 1947: Legal transfer of ownership to Australia, ahead of the establishment of Australian bases for Antarctic expeditions

  • 1950: Transfer confirmed by letter (Not sure why it took that long - mail was slower back then, but not that slow)

  • 1953: Placed under the jurisdiction of the ACT (Australian Capital Territory). Just a paper thing, really - if someone breaks the law there, they'd be tried under the courts that govern Canberra and the immediate surroundings, rather than needing to convene a special court, but this hasn't ever come up, and probably never will, because nobody lives there. Same applies to Australia's territory in Antarctica - commit a crime there and you'll be tried under the ACT courts.

So I'm really not sure what the "recent legal proceedings" were, unless the 1950's are recent.


u/Sparriw1 May 24 '22

The only likely legal proceedings are probably about fishing rights or potential mining rights.


u/Opposite_Door5210 May 25 '22

Was the whaling station there before it became British Territory?


u/chakalakalakalaka May 25 '22

I never said it was how it works, just made the correlation similar to what you said about US and Hawaii


u/NinDiGu May 24 '22

It's hilarious how far away they look on a standard Mercator projection.


u/TikkiTakiTomtom May 24 '22

Considering how Australia lies smackdab in the middle of a central tectonic plate and all


u/its-not-me_its-you_ May 24 '22

That's how we roll champ


u/Theultrablue May 24 '22

and was recently involved in legal proceedings between two entities (Australia & the UK)

Where does it say that in the article? What was the legal proceeding?


u/_Niel_ May 24 '22

There were not any….. OP confused


u/VisVirtusque May 24 '22

I'm sure it's regarding which country owns it so that they can claim the surrounding waters and any resources that are found in them.


u/pilgrimtohyperion May 24 '22

"The United Kingdom formally established its claim to Heard Island in 1910, marked by the raising of the Union Flag and the erection of a beacon by Captain Evensen, master of the Mangoro. Effective government, administration and control of Heard Island and the McDonald Islands was transferred to the Australian government on 26 December 1947 at the commencement of the first Australian National Antarctic Research Expedition (ANARE) to Heard Island, with a formal declaration that took place at Atlas Cove. The transfer was confirmed by an exchange of letters between the two governments on 19 December 1950."


u/KypDurron May 24 '22

1950 is "recent"?


u/GlimmervoidG May 24 '22

That's an awful title then because that quote doesn't support it at all.


u/_Niel_ May 24 '22

What legal proceedings between Australia and the U.K. ?

I think you’re confused.

Claimed by the U.K. in 1910 and transferred to Australia in 1947 quite peaceably and informally……. It was done by mail in a “this is closer to you than us so it’s all yours”…….. no legal issues in any way


u/generaltsao May 24 '22

Did you find this after a Worldle disaster like I did? Fucking Kerguelen Islands...


u/EmperorHans May 25 '22

Worldle is either too easy when it's an actual country or absolutely fucking impossible when it isnt.

Why the fuck would I know about Bouvet Island?


u/SashaWoodson May 24 '22

But how’s the real estate market there?


u/Opposite_Door5210 May 25 '22

Couple of wooden huts, in not bad condition. Lots of talkative neighbors (penguins).


u/krais0078 May 24 '22

Judging by the description, Heard Island must be named after Amber Heard


u/otterdroppings May 24 '22

'cold, barren, erupts frequently and surrounded by wreckage.'

Have an upvote.


u/imsuperserialrn May 24 '22

I looked it up on Google maps and then checked out the reviews for Mawsons peak on the island, quite funny yall should check it out. Also why is it heard island and Mcdonald islands, it all looks like one island


u/Washoogie_Otis May 24 '22

This review was really useful:

*!!!!!!!!WARNING!!!!!!: VERY EMOTIONAL!!!!!***** one day i was sitting on a lake doing google maps. Then, I came across this beautifurifous place. I told my whole family about it. When I did my blind uncle said that's a beautifurifous picture. And then my paralyzed mom jumped out of her wheel chair and started running to the island. (I would recommend taking a car!!!) While we were walking to the island we came across beyonce in the ocean. So then I sacrificed my mute dad to queen beyonce. He then started screaming so loud that the earth shook and now it was snowing and raining at the same time. The ocean was drowning and the police showed up. We started running from them and ended up on the island. Once we got on the island penguins greeted us. They then plucked out my mother's hair. Now she was bald. Great views though. When we climbed to the top of the mountain there was a hole and my uncle fell. It was satisfying though. After that my paralyzed mom ran to find the Mcdonalds. Once we got there we screamed so loud that the "M" sign on the Mcdonalds building broke off as well as the ovens. Once we got in we ordered the entire menu. When we ate the burger our teeth fell out because it was ice. 10/10 would recommend.


u/imsuperserialrn May 25 '22

Lol ya that one is so random


u/sexsex69420irl May 24 '22

There is a McDonald Island?


u/shanaely May 24 '22

where they serve McDonald’s all day


u/johnny_nofun May 25 '22

Breakfast all day? Does the ice cream machine work?


u/dukeofnes May 24 '22

This TIL title reads like a dating classified


u/-g-man_ May 24 '22

"cold, barren, erupts frequently and surrounded by wreckage"

That's what she said


u/Thecna2 May 25 '22

No one thinks of Heard and McDonalds as 'being part of Australia'. Theyre just some remote islands administered by us.


u/grubbugs May 25 '22

They call it erupts they call it the McSplosion


u/mrsmith2929 May 25 '22

So the real question is there any amber on Heard Island? And is there a McDonald’s on McDonald island?