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Nickname: Mewstone Island; The Mewstone
Shy albatross in flight
Mewstone is an important breeding site for shy albatrosses
Mewstone is located in Tasmania
Location off the south coast of Tasmania
EtymologyGreat Mew Stone, an island near Plymouth, United Kingdom
LocationSouth coast Tasmania
Coordinates43°44′17″S 146°22′16″E / 43.73806°S 146.37111°E / -43.73806; 146.37111Coordinates: 43°44′17″S 146°22′16″E / 43.73806°S 146.37111°E / -43.73806; 146.37111
ArchipelagoPedra Branca
Adjacent bodies of waterSouthern Ocean
Area13.1 ha (32 acres)[1]
Highest elevation150 m (490 ft)
RegionSouth coast

Mewstone is an unpopulated island, composed of muscovite granite, located close to the south coast of Tasmania, Australia. The 13.1-hectare (32-acre) island has steep cliffs and a small flat summit and is part of the Pedra Branca group, lying 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) southeast of Maatsuyker Island, and 22 kilometres (14 mi) off the south coast of Tasmania. Mewstone comprises part of the Southwest National Park and the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Site.[1][2]

The highest point of the island is approximately 150 metres (490 ft) above sea level.[2] Mewstone has abundant bird life and has been identified by BirdLife International as an Important Bird Area (IBA) because it supports over 1% of the world populations of shy albatrosses and fairy prions.[3]


In 1642 it was described by Abel Tasman, who said it "resembles a lion".[4] In 1773 it was named by Tobias Furneaux[5] in HMS Adventure. It is likely that Mewstone was named after the Great Mew Stone, an island about 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) south-southeast of Furneaux's birthplace in Plymouth, United Kingdom. The Great Mewstone got its name from the old English name for the herring gull; mew.[6]

Although it is sometimes referred to as Mewstone Island or The Mewstone, its official name is simply Mewstone.[7]

Flora and fauna[edit]

There is very little flora due to the rocky nature of the island. What little plant life there is grows in crevices in the rocks where soil has accumulated.[8]

Recorded breeding seabirds include fairy prion (20,000 pairs), silver gull, black-faced cormorant and shy albatross (7,500 pairs). Mewstone is the largest of only three shy albatross breeding colonies in the world, the other two being Albatross Island and Pedra Branca.[1] Australian fur seals haul-out on small ledges. The Tasmanian tree skink is also present.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Small Southern Islands Conservation Management Statement 2002" (PDF). Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service. 2002. p. 14. Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 August 2006. Retrieved 20 July 2006.
  2. ^ a b c Brothers, Nigel; Pemberton, David; Pryor, Helen; Halley, Vanessa (2001). Tasmania's Offshore Islands: seabirds and other natural features. Hobart: Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery. ISBN 0-7246-4816-X.
  3. ^ "IBA: Mewstone". Birdata. Birds Australia. Archived from the original on 6 July 2011. Retrieved 15 August 2011.
  4. ^ Heeres, J. E., ed. (2006). "Abel Janszoon Tasman's Journal of his Discovery of Van Diemen's Land and New Zealand in 1642 with Documents Relating to his Exploration of Australia in which are added his Life and Labours, 1898". Gutenberg of Australia. Retrieved 9 July 2006.
  5. ^ Sprod, Dan (2005). "Furneaux, Tobias (1735 - 1781)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Melbourne University Press. ISSN 1833-7538. Retrieved 5 May 2008 – via National Centre of Biography, Australian National University.
  6. ^ "The Great Mewstone". South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Retrieved 13 June 2015.
  7. ^ "Place Name Search for Mewstone, Tasmania". Geoscience Australia. Archived from the original on 1 October 2007. Retrieved 24 July 2006.
  8. ^ White, Gary (1980). Islands of South-West Tasmania. Sydney: self-published. ISBN 0-9594866-0-7.

External links[edit]