More domain name craziness – .hm this time

The Royal family should get it

Following on from Tuvalu, which has the top-level domain name ".tv", a reader has drawn our attention to the Heard and McDonald Islands - situated about 1,500 km north of Antarctica, 4,100 km south-west of Australia, and about 4,700 km south-east of Africa. These two islands have the TLD ".hm" - not quite as sexy as "tv" admittedly, but then it is being sold as a shorthand for "home". We reckon that the royal family should snap up some of the domain names quick smart.

The interesting thing here is that no one does, has and probably never will live on either island. The nearest human gathering is 4,000km away. Both are volcanic and Heard boasts its own active volcano. If you were to hang around, aside from the snow, ice and the odd seal you'd have to make do with some interesting fauna as recreation. If you're lucky, you might catch one of the totally infrequent scientific expeditions that pop down for a few days.

Which makes it incredible that you can buy a domain name representing the islands. The information certainly won't be held in servers on the island because there aren't any. And since there is no whois database for hm domains, we're unsure who exactly is running www.start.hm - the registering board (hang on shouldn't the registrar actually live on the island?). It's an Australian outfit, that's for sure.

So what if you fancy a .hm? Well, it's a little dear - they want $50 a name plus $50 every year as an annual fee. Not many people seem to have taken them up on the idea. Aside from registrar domains, we could only find one site up and running - ishop.hm - and that directs all its traffic to .com sites. Links to other sites were found but none of them seem to work.

Another odd thing - despite its utter rejection by humankind, it still has an annual budget of US$234,000 from the Australian government. Eh?

Wanna know the history? First discovered by a British sealer, Peter Kemp on 27 November 1833. In 1849 it was rediscovered by an American whaler, Thomas Long. Neither of these discoveries was published, and credit for discovery went to Captain John Heard of the American merchant vessel Oriental on 25 November 1853.

The first recorded landing was by a sealing expedition in March 1855. During the sealing period from 1855-1880, various people spent a year or more on the island collecting oil and a good percentage of them died (drowning, capsize, frostbite, scurvy, general illness). By 1880, nearly all the seals were dead, so people gave up on it. It was part of the British Empire at this time, until in 1947, the UK gave it to Australia. Which promptly forgot all about it until 1953, when the Heard and McDonald Islands Act was passed. Nothing then until an Australian helicopter landed in 1971. Another expedition went there in 1980.

And there you have it. ®

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