Pearl farm

Where to go

Torres Strait

The Isolated Beauty of the Torres Strait

Blessed with coral reefs, deserted beaches and pockets of rainforest, the 274 islands of the Torres Strait off the tip of Cape York are a fascinating mix of Indigenous and Melanesian cultures.

Boat tied up at Friday Island

A WORLD AWAY

There are few relatively undiscovered places left in the world, yet one of them starts just off the coast of Tropical North Queensland. The Torres Strait Islands are impossibly beautiful and virtually untouched, a series of stepping stones reaching from Cape York towards Papua New Guinea.

Sea turtle in ocean

WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE

White beaches, volcanic peaks covered in forest and rocky islets emerge from turquoise water teeming with dugongs, dolphins, sea turtles and giant marlin. The northernmost fringes of the Great Barrier Reef lie to the east, although you’ll find none of the crowds that exist further south.

Dancers in the Torres Strait

INTO THE ANCIENT

It’s a region with a rich history, dating back 70,000 years when the first Torres Strait islanders migrated from the Indonesian archipelago. The people are still intrinsically tied to their ancient culture and each of the islands’ small communities has their own distinct practices, beliefs and customs. Practices they share include colourful dance, distinctive masks and headdresses, traditional carving and modern printmaking.

Cannon

IT MUST BE THURSDAY

Less than 20 of the islands are inhabited and just a few permit visitors, including the administrative capital, Thursday Island. The island is tiny (about 3 sq km) and there are just two sleepy main streets and a handful of hotels. In the late 19th century, it was a bustling pearling hub with hundreds of ships and divers based here. More than 600 Japanese divers are buried in the island’s heritage-listed cemetery. You’ll also find one of Australia’s oldest military fortifications on the island, Green Hill Fort, built in 1891.

Remote island in the Torres Strait

THE OUTER REACHES

On the more remote islands, tourism is almost non-existent. That doesn’t mean you won’t be able to get around – friendly locals will be happy to take you out in their dinghies to fish in hidden coves or invite you to join them for a celebratory meal.

Tips

  • During World War II, 5000 troops and airmen were stationed on Horn Island, which was the second most-attacked location in Australia after Darwin. Visit the Torres Strait Heritage Museum on the island to uncover its fascinating and little-known military history.

  • See historic artefacts and contemporary works from local communities at the award-winning Gab Titui Cultural Centre. The centre promotes only ethical sales of Indigenous work and supports some 70 artists across the islands.

  • Visit a modern working pearl farm at Roko Island, a private island just off the mainland that produces high-quality Australian South Sea pearls. Take a tour of the farm, see pearls being harvested and buy jewellery made on the island.

  • The fishing on the islands is exceptionally good. Throw a line in off the wharf at Horn Island, or take one of the many available fishing charters in search of coral trout, sail fish, mackerel, golden snapper and red emperor.

  • The Torres Strait Islands can be tricky to get around, so plan ahead with flights and inter-island transfers, book accommodation in advance and carry cash, as banking facilities are limited.

Discover More

Learn more about the individual islands, their unique communities and the region’s fascinating history – and explore the untouched tip of the Great Barrier Reef.

Getting here

  • Skytrans aircraft on tarmac

    By air

    Skytrans connects Cairns with the main communities on Cape York and the Torres Strait Islands and offers the most diverse route options. Qantaslink offers daily return flights from Cairns to Horn Island.

  • Peddels ferry service on water

    By boat/ferry

    Peddell’s Ferry offers transfers from Seisa to Thursday Island as well as providing island tours by bus on Thursday Island. Private boat charters are also available. McDonald Charter Boats and Rebel Marine/Torres Strait Tours offer ferry services between Horn Island and Thursday Island.

  • MV Trinity at sea

    By ship

    Sail to the islands with Ahoy Buccaneers or take the cargo ship MV Trinity Bay to the tip of Australia. You’ll cruise 1,000km along the Great Barrier Reef on a vessel destined for the azure-blue waters of the Torres Strait Islands. A stunning, unique, bucket-list experience like no other. Why not put your 4WD on the vessel heading north, and drive back to Cairns through Cape York – an untamed wilderness that has to be seen to be believed.

  • By helicopter

    Multiple scenic and fishing tours are available from Seisa, Cape York to the islands of the Torres Strait with GBR Helicopters, Nautilus Aviation, and Helitours North Queensland. Private charter services are also available.

    #exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR

    After shooting to stardom on social media in 2016, the #CardwellSpaPool has remained one of the most famous stops in @tropicalcoastqueensland thanks to its beautiful blue waters 💙🌿

If you’ve ever wondered what causes these bright blue waters, we’re here to help! The science behind the colour can get a little complicated but geological experts suggest that the blue colour is from the chemistry of the rocks & water resulting in high levels of dissolved magnesium & calcium in the water 👩‍🔬

To get her & check it out for yourself, hop in the car & head about 2.5 hours south of #Cairns to #Cardwell & follow the Cardwell Forest Drive to the spa pool 🚙💦

Click the bio link to learn more 👆
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​📸 @thedailyluxe  #exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR #thisisqueensland #seeaustralia
    Who needs teeth anyway? 🦷

Much like other iconic animals in @tropicalnorthqueensland, the crocodile is special to many Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people 🐊 Known to a number of Indigenous language groups near Cairns as Ganyarra, the crocodile is portrayed in stories, dance, music & is a totem to some Traditional Owner groups. 

If you’re interested in learning about some of the traditional stories of these incredible creatures, join one of the many Indigenous tours around Tropical North Queensland & ask your friendly guide 🌴💚 

📸 @solar_whisper #exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR #thisisqueensland #seeaustralia
    Tucked into the upper-most point of @australia lies a fascinating world of unforgettable adventures & endless activities 🌴🌺 Here’s some unmissable sights in the Torres Strait 👇

1. Delve into the art world & explore the Gab Titui Cultural Centre. Here you’ll find sculptures, paintings, prints, jewellery & more, plus many works illustrating local myths & legends. If you visit during an exhibition opening, you might see & hear traditional dancing, music and songs.
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2. Take a scenic helicopter ride for an aerial view of the islands. On a Torres Strait tour with @helitoursnq you’ll fly over Thursday & Prince of Wales Islands, as ell as the spectacular formations of the @gbrmarinepark. As you admire the view, your guide will tell you stories about the area’s major landmarks.
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3. Learn about the islands’ pasts at one of the many historical landmarks, including Green Fort Hill, or at the Torres Strait Heritage Museum.
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4. Try your hand at pearl farming on @rokoisland. Arriving on the island’s floating jetty, the farm’s pearl technician shows you the art of making pearls before taking you on a tour of the island where you’ll not only learn about the local history but also be asked to keep a lookout for the island’s resident crocodile 😉

Click the bio link for more things to do in the Torres Strait Islands 👆 

📸 @kantesha_takai #exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR #thisisqueensland #seeaustralia
    If this isn’t the cutest creature you’ve ever seen, you’ve got to be echidding yourself 😉🦔 Spotted strolling along the waterfront in Yarrabah, this echidna might be heading into town to explore some of the incredible cultural events & exhibitions 🌺

If there’s one stop you want to make while you’re here, it’s the Yarrabah Arts & Cultural Precinct! The precinct showcases Aboriginal culture, art, identity and history through authentic handmade pottery, painting, woven baskets, placemats and textiles 🖌 

Planning a trip for later in the year? Get involved in the festivities of the Yarrabah Music & Cultural Festival. Harking back to 1901 when people gathered to hear the Yarrabah Brass Band, the festival now plays host to a full day of music, arts and food to celebrate local talent, who perform alongside national music acts. You can expect hands-on demonstrations like spear making, shield making & weaving 🪕🎶

📸 FB/myPolice Greater Cairns #exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR #seeaustralia #thisisqueensland

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