7 External Territories
These 7 territories are home to unique cultures, rare wildlife, and stunning natural beauty. Where are they are located? How are they governed? What are they are famous for?
Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands
Located in the Indian Ocean, Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands are known for their diverse marine life, pristine beaches, and unique flora and fauna. Christmas Island is famous for its annual red crab migration, where over 50 million crabs make their way to the ocean to breed. The Cocos (Keeling) Islands are a popular destination for snorkelling and diving, with over 600 species of fish and 150 species of coral.
Both Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands are classed as external territories, with their own unique governance structures. However, they are administered by the Australian government and are part of the Australian domain.
Located in the Pacific Ocean, Norfolk Island is famous for its rich history, stunning scenery, and relaxed island lifestyle. The island was initially settled by Polynesians, before being used as a British penal colony in the 19th century. Today, Norfolk Island is known for its world heritage listed buildings, delicious local cuisine, and friendly locals.
Norfolk Island has its own legislative assembly and governance structure, although it is also administered by the Australian government. Visitors to the island can enjoy cultural tours, outdoor activities like hiking and fishing, and delicious local fare.
Ashmore and Cartier Islands
Comprising of two small uninhabited islands, Ashmore and Cartier Islands are located in the Timor Sea between Indonesia and Australia. The islands are known for their diverse marine life, including turtles, sharks, and over 250 species of coral. They are also home to important migratory bird species and support significant fisheries resources.
Ashmore and Cartier Islands are governed by the Australian government, with limited access for tourists due to their remote location and lack of infrastructure.
Heard and McDonald Islands
Located in the southern Indian Ocean, Heard and McDonald Islands are uninhabited volcanic islands known for their unique wildlife and geological features. The islands are home to penguins, seals, and albatross, and feature towering cliffs and volcanic landscapes.
Heard and McDonald Islands are administered by the Australian government and are accessible to scientists and researchers but not tourist visitors due to their remote location.
Australian Antarctic Territory
Covering over 5 million square kilometres of the southern continent, the Australian Antarctic Territory is known for its extreme environment, unique wildlife, and important scientific research. The territory is home to penguins, whales, and seals, and features stunning icy landscapes and historic research stations.
The Australian Antarctic Territory is governed by the Australian government, with strict regulations on tourism and research activity due to its fragile environment and status as a global commons.
Australia's external territories are a diverse and fascinating collection of islands and territories, each with its unique history, culture, and natural beauty. From the rugged landscapes of Heard and McDonald Islands to the rich history of Norfolk Island, these territories offer visitors a chance to explore some of the most unique and remote parts of the world. Although they may not be as well-known as the mainland, Australia's external territories are a fascinating part of this vast and beautiful country.
04 Oct 2023