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6 — What does Macquarie Island look like today?

This sequence allows students to ‘tune in’ to the conditions on Macquarie Island today. They will locate the island on a world map and also view it using Google Earth. Remind the students that in Sequence 1 they examined a map of the island and another showing its location. Ask them to recall where the island is situated and any other features they noticed. 

Activity 1: Locating Macquarie Island on a map

Using a map of the world or a globe, help the students to locate Macquarie Island. This could be done on an interactive whiteboard. Provide the students with a photocopied map of the southwestern Pacific/Southern Ocean region and ask them to draw in the location of Macquarie Island then paste this into their books for later use. Place the map on the working wall for all to see. Point out the climatic zones and discuss how these affect weather and life on the island.

Activity 2: Locating Macquarie Island on Google Earth

Note: For this activity you will need computers or an interactive whiteboard with access to Google Earth. You will need to download this free program onto the computer if it is not already installed.

Using an interactive whiteboard or individual computers, the students locate Macquarie Island using Google Earth. The students then watch a 48-hour period on Macquarie Island, via the Macquarie Island web cam, as a time-lapse movie. After viewing the movie, the students discuss their observations and the weather conditions shown. ACHASSI105

Looking down at the isthmus and Australian Antarctic Division buildings on Macquarie Island

Above: The isthmus at the northern end of Macquarie Island with the Macquarie Island Station buildings seen from a Google Earth view. Source: © 2013 DigitalGlobe Google Earth

Activity 3: Writing a descriptive passage

The students re-read the descriptions of Macquarie Island in the book One Small Island. For example, ‘A speck of green in the vast, windswept sea, it is a haven for many creatures that live above and below the waves’ (page 2). Model the way a descriptive passage is developed through the crafting of noun groups. Noun groups usually consist of an article – the, a or an – plus one or more adjectives or adverbs, and are an important language resource for building up descriptions. For example, ‘The waterlogged, windswept, coastal region has an extremely low level of human habitation’ (noun groups are in italic type).

Model how adverbial or adjectival phrases and/or clauses can be added after the noun to provide further information. For example:

Work with the class to identify further examples of descriptive language and discuss the effect of the language choices in the text. The students then write a descriptive paragraph about an aspect of the island that reflects how it is being destroyed. ACELT1798

Further information

For more information about the island, watch the video clips from Siege of the South (1931) from Australian Screen, with commentary by Frank Hurley.


Students share their descriptive passage with the whole class or in small groups. They provide peer feedback on the effectiveness of the descriptive language in building up an image of the thing being described using ‘two stars and a wish’ (two areas of strength and one suggestion). This is a lead-in to Sequence 7 where they are required to think carefully about the conditions on the island today in order to produce a radio broadcast about the island.