The Territory of Heard Island and McDonald Islands, also known as HIMI, are barren islands near Antarctica, about 2,300 miles south of Madagascar. These islands are volcanic, uninhabited and some of the most remote places on the planet. Heard Island is the larger of the two territories, while the McDonald Islands are a group of small, rocky islands. The majority of Heard Island is taken up by the 9,000 foot volcanic peak of Mawson Peak.
The Territory of Heard Island and McDonald Islands are external territories of Australia and thus the official flag of the islands is also the official flag of Australia. They were previously claimed by the United Kingdom in 1910 and the Union Jack was then the official flag of the islands. The country transferred ownership and administration of the islands to Australia in 1947.
The flag of Australia, and thus of HIMI, is a dark blue ensign with the Union Jack depicted in the upper left-hand corner. In the lower left quadrant of the flag is a white seven-pointed star called the Commonwealth Star. The star is in the exact middle of this portion of the flag and much larger than the other five stars in the right half of the flag. The stars on the right half of the flag form the Southern Cross constellation. Four of the stars have seven points and the fifth star has five points. The arrangement is somewhat like the Dipper constellations with the handle on the bottom right side and only containing one star. The star directly above this is the smaller five pointed star.
The Southern Cross constellation has traditionally been used to represent Australia since the earliest days of British colonization. This is due to the fact that the constellation is the most distinctive one visible in the Southern Hemisphere. The seven-pointed star represents Australia’s six states with six points and the seventh point represents its territories. The top point of the star is aligned with the bottom of St. George’s Cross in the Union Jack.
The flag was adopted in September of 1901, but as early as the 1980s it has been debated by Australians whether the Union Jack should continue to be a part of the flag.