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Penguins at Macquarie Island
Photograph: Supplied/Shutterstock

A rugged Australian island was just named the third most beautiful and remote place on Earth

It's so isolated, you can only access it via boat

Maya Skidmore
Leah Glynn
Written by
Maya Skidmore
Written by
Leah Glynn

Here's one for the travel bucket list, especially if you enjoy visiting far-flung locations where the only permanent residents are penguins, seabirds and seals. Global travel site Big 7 Travel has just dropped its list of the 50 most remote and beautiful places in the world, and coming in at third spot is a pristine, mostly untouched island located right between Australia, New Zealand and Antarctica: Macquarie Island.

If you haven't heard of it, you're not alone. Hidden away in the southwestern part of the Pacific Ocean, this UNESCO World Heritage site and pristine nature reserve is located approximately 2,143 kilometres from Melbourne and has no permanent human inhabitants.

Politically, Macquarie Island is managed by Tasmania, while regionally it's part of Oceania. Curious as to why exactly this tiny island closest to New Zealand is not, in fact, part of New Zealand? Well, Tassie and NZ had a fight over who got to exploit the island’s huge penguin population for oil in the 1900s and the Apple Isle won. Classic. 

Aside from its gnarly history, Macquarie Island is a rugged outpost full of stunning rock formations, misty cloud coverage and a diverse array of incredible wildlife, including being the only known breeding ground of the royal penguin in the world. It is also one of the only places on the planet where you can see the Earth’s mantle above sea level. This is cool, because if you were to see the Earth’s mantle anywhere else, you’d have to swim down to the very bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. 

If you don’t have the time, resources or respiratory power to do this, then you could think about making a voyage out to this wild destination. Only accessible by sea, and only open to a select number of commercial educational tourist groups each summer, a trip to Macquarie Island is for those who love nothing more than observing an untouched stretch of wilderness and getting up close to thriving seal, penguin and bird populations with nobody else around. 

In case you were wondering about what other locations made the list, Blue Eye in Albania took out the top spot, and White Desert Whichaway Camp in Antarctica came in second. The full top ten looked like this:

  1. Blue Eye, Albania
  2. White Desert Whichaway Camp, Antarctica
  3. Macquarie Island, Australia
  4. Laya, Bhutan
  5. Pinnacles of Gunung, Mulu National Park, Borneo
  6. Sandibe Okavango, Botswana
  7. Pitcairn Island, British Overseas Territory
  8. Anegada, British Virgin Islands
  9. Ivvavik National Park, Canada
  10. Marble Caves, Patagonia, Chile

Not bad, Australia/New Zealand/Antarctica. Not bad at all.

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