Torres Strait Islands - Tropical North Queensland Holiday Destination
The Torres Strait Islands are comprised of 274 small islands north of Cape York but south of Papua New Guinea. Out of all of these islands only 17 are inhabited with the majority of people choosing to live on Thursday and Horn Islands.
These islands are full of tradition and culture that was brought from Melanesia and Polynesia around 2000 years ago. The Islands have stunning, untouched beaches which lead into sparkling, crystal clear waters. The underwater habitats are varied and full of reefs which are home to an amazing array of marine life like dugongs and sea turtles.
Torres Strait Islands are a hidden wonder and visitors will enjoy being into a tropical paradise which offers a laid back holiday with lots of things to do and see.
Torres Strait Islands Accommodation
You'll find a mix bunch of accommodation on on the Islands with modern, casual resorts, thatched roof suites, motels and plenty of wonderful camp sites. Many of the other islands have guesthouses which are run by the council. However, you must remember that you can't visit these islands without being granted permission from the Torres Strait Regional Authority.
When staying in the Torres Strait Islands you must adhere to certain guidelines. Many of the communities have alcohol restrictions put in place so please check with the council before you leave to see what the current protocol is. Also, please be aware where you walk as many private residences are not fenced off.
Things to Do or Places to Visit at the Torres Strait Islands
Thursday Island is the busiest in the region as it is the main administration hub and covers an area of just over 3 square kilometres. Thursday Island (or TI as it's known to locals) offers visitors an amazing experience with plenty of history and a wonderful insight into one of Australia's Indigenous cultures.
The island has had a varied history and you can take yourself on a tour of all the sites starting at Green Hill Fort which was built in 1893 due to fear of Russian invasion. In that same year the merchant ship, the Quetta, struck uncharted reef just off Thursday Island which ripped a hole from the bow to the engine room leading to the death of 134 of the people on board. In commemoration of this horrible event the All Souls Quetta Memorial Church was also built in 1890. Next, you can visit the Japanese Pearl Memorial which is dedicated to the hundreds of pearl divers who risked their lives in pursuit of these rarities. The town still is a pearling centre but the locals now stick to culture farms which is much less dangerous. While you walk through town you can also admit the colonial architecture which is left over from World War II.
Make sure you stop and take in the local culture and enjoy the local art and markets. There's a number of restaurants on the island's who serve up some of the freshest and tastiest seafood in all of Australia. You can also go and catch your own seafood and join up with one of the many fishing charters.
Horn Island is located around 150 kilometres off the coast of Queensland and is home to the only airstrip in the Torres Strait Islands. Visitors to Horn Island will have an amazing experience which will include a look into a rich and varied history and insight into the island's mix of Melanesian and Australian Aboriginal cultures.
In the 1890s the island was used to mine Gold and then by the start of the 20th century it became a flourishing centre for the pearling industry, the industry waned at the start of World War II when many of the island's residents were evacuated and is now on the up and up. During World War II an allied airbase was built called the Horn Island Aerodrome.
As the airbase was a major one it came under fire from Japanese air raids a total of 8 times which caused much destruction to the island. Don't miss taking a look at the historic WWII sites that remain on the island today and to learn more about the island's history and its special culture you can visit the museum and the art gallery which are located in the tiny town of Wasaga.
Getting to the Torres Strait Islands
You can get to the Torres Strait Islands a number of ways. The easiest is by air and each day a 2 hour flight services the region between Cairns and Horn Island. You can also choose to charter a small plan or use a helicopter service. You can also choose to take the local ferry which regularly departs from Seisa to Thursday Island. If you don't mind taking the long way than you can drive your 4WD onto the ferry at Cairns and cruise your way up the east coast to Thursday Island. These boats leave once a week from Cairns.