The little TERRORS

Jun 25, 2001 (Updated Jun 27, 2001)

The Bottom Line All of these islands and land masses are used by illegal fisherman and drug cartels from time to time and all have strategic importance.

Australia's Territories are off shore islands for which Australia accepts a Defence and support Role.
Some are part of Australia, others only supported by us. The Territories and there size in square miles are as follows;
Australian Antarctic Territory 3,800,000 *Coral Sea Islands Territory 490,000
Territory of Heard and MacDonald Islands 240 Christmas Island 85
Macquarie Island (Administered by Tasmania) 82 *Norfolk Island 21
*Lord Howe Island (Administered by N.S.W.) 10 *Cocos (Keeling) Islands 9
Ashmore and Cartier Islands 1.2

*Please note those with an asterisk have been reviewed separately.

In addition to the larger and/or more populous territories, Australia has a number of much smaller ones spread over a hugely wide area from South of South Africa to the Antarctic, north to near Indonesia and well into the Pacific. This massive area takes in most of the Indian Ocean, all of the Southern Ocean and about a third of the Pacific.
Well I guess it gives the Navy something to do, since all of these islands and land masses are used by illegal fisherman and drug cartels from time to time and all have strategic importance.
Therefore they are all visited on a very regular basis - even unmarked and camouflaged ships are used by the Australian Navy and specially built ships capable of withstanding sixty five foot seas for extended periods. "Standard" Warships, being built as light as possible for higher speed, are not really suitable in these conditions, although they are used whenever necessary.
The small territories, in no particular order are;

Heard Island and McDonald Islands
These Islands are in the Indian Ocean, about two-thirds of the way from Madagascar to Antarctica. They together have an area of about 240 square miles, slightly more than twice the size of Washington, DC .
The usual Australian Maritime claims apply, being an exclusive fishing zone of 200 nm with a territorial sea of 3 nm.

With an Antarctic climate, bleak and mountainous terrain it is little wonder these two islands are unpopulated. There is an extinct volcano of 9,000 feet that must stand up making the islands visible from a long distance.
Defence is the responsibility of Australia, even though the islands lie to the south of South Africa.

Ashmore and Cartier Islands

The Territory of Ashmore and Cartier Islands comprises West, Middle and East Islands of Ashmore Reef, Cartier Island and the 12 nautical mile territorial sea generated by those islands. The islands are uninhabited, small, low and composed of coral and sand, with some grass cover.
The Territory is located on the outer edge of the continental shelf in the Indian Ocean approximately 200 miles off Australia's north-west coast and ninety miles south of the Indonesian Island of Roti. The Jabiru and Challis oil fields are adjacent to the Territory.
In early May 1996, Indonesian and Australian officials, at the request of the Indonesianís, visited the Territory with the objective of satisfying Indonesian officials that the Territory does in fact include islands generating a 24 nautical mile boundary. This has important implications for negotiations between Australia and Indonesia on the maritime boundary.

Christmas Island

Christmas Island is located in the Indian Ocean, approximately 240 miles south of Java, Head at the southern entrance to the Sunda Strait, approximately 840 miles from Singapore and approximately 1,600 miles from Perth. The nearest point of the Australian mainland is Northwest Cape which lies approximately 1,000 miles to the south east. The island has an area of 80 square miles.

The Island is the summit of a submarine mountain. It rises steeply to a central plateau dominated by stands of rainforest. The plateau reaches heights of up to 1,200 feet and consists mainly of limestone with layers of volcanic rock.

The Island's 50 mile coastline is an almost continuous sea cliff, ranging in height to 65 feet. In a few places (about 13) breaks in the cliff give way to shallow bays and small sand and coral beaches. The largest of these bays forms the Island's port at Flying Fish Cove.

The Island is surrounded by an encircling coral reef. There is virtually no coastal shelf and the sea plummets to a depth of about 16,500 feet within 190 yards of the shore.
The climate is tropical and temperatures range from 75 to 88. Humidity is around 80-90% and south-east trade winds provide pleasant weather for most of the year, although during the wet season, between November and April it is common for some storm activity to occur, producing a swell in seas around the island. The average rainfall is 80 inches per annum.

Christmas Island was named on Christmas day 1643 by Captain William Mynors, the master of a passing ship. The first landing was recorded by William Dampier in 1688. For the next two centuries, little interest was shown in the island due to its rugged coastline.

Following the discovery of phosphate deposits, the island was annexed by Britain in 1888.
Christmas Island was occupied by Japanese forces from March 1942 until the end of the Second World War, and in 1946 became a dependency of Singapore.

By agreement with the United Kingdom, sovereignty was transferred to the Commonwealth of Australia on 1 October 1958 under the Christmas Island Act 1958.
The extensive phosphate deposits on Christmas Island have been mined for many years. The Phosphate Mining Corporation of Christmas Island ceased business in late 1987. The mine was reopened in 1990 by a local consortium and is now operated by Phosphate Resources Ltd (trading as Christmas Island Phosphates).

Christmas Island has just been announced the new rocket launch site for the Asia-Pacific Region.

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