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

    It's beginning to look like Christmas on the #CairnsEsplanade 🎄☀️ Palm trees are swaying, lights are twinkling & the decorations have been dusted off for another year as we count down the days until Santa arrives 🎅Where better to get a view of this magnificent tree than from atop Oaks Cairns Hotel at @oakandvinerestaurant? 🍹
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Did you see the Christmas tree light up last week? ✨​

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    There’s something sow amazing about gardens, right? 😉

If you’re a little bit of a green thumb, you might want to spend a little time exploring this beauty in Cairns 🍃 The Flecker Botanic Gardens are home to an incredible array of plants & wildlife (mainly birds, but we could watch them all day! 🦜) Try a tour of the garden, check out the visitor information centre & let the kids explore their inner nature fanatic with the fortnightly activity program for children under five - there’s crafts, stories, sing alongs & garden discovery walks! 🌿

If you’re looking for a little more action, just a short walk or drive down the road you’ll find the Tanks Arts Centre & the many arrow walking trails 🥾🎭

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    A new perspective on a old classic...like, really old 🌴🙌 If you’d prefer your history lesson taught outside the classroom, then point your compass west & get ready to step back in time ⏱👈 The Chillagoe-Mungana Caves began to form 400 million years ago when the landscape was covered by a shallow sea 🌊⛰️ No, you won’t find batman hiding out in here, but you might be lucky enough to spot some bats! 🦇 Ripe with natural & cultural heritage, this incredible place is only a 3hr drive from #Cairns on the @athertontablelands 🚙
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    Out of the reef & onto the beach, in #MissionBeach no less! 🌴

Though the reef is still pretty close! Did you know that Mission Beach was the birthplace of the @gbrmarinepark & is the closest access point to the reef, making it the ultimate spot for snorkelling, diving & boating ⛵️🌊 Our tip: Ask the locals for some epic places to explore!

If underwater wonderlands aren’t quite your scene, there’s plenty to see above ground as well, from beautiful beaches to raging rapids & cool waterholes 🍃🏝
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    If you weren’t already aware, we’ve got some epic stays in @tropicalnorthqueensland & @riley.crystalbrookcollection might be up there with the best! 🐚🥂 This weekend’s forecast is all blue skies & poolside cocktails 🏝☀️ Click the bio link to find out why you need Riley in your life ✨

Who are you staying here with? 👇
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    Hanging out for the holidays 🌴 ​In case you weren't already aware, drop bears are a pretty famous resident of @australia 🐻 Turns out they're a lot cuter than we thought they were 😉
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​Just kidding! This furry friend is actually a Lumholtz's Tree Kangaroo, one of two tree kangaroo species in Australia, both of which are only found in @tropicalnorthqueensland 🦘🤩 ​Did you know that the tree kangaroo is the only species of kangaroo that is capable of moving it’s hind legs separately (& they can walk backwards!)? 🚶‍♂️
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    You might not find frozen lakes in the tropics over the Christmas holidays, but you will find perfectly glassy crater lakes 🌳 #LakeEacham on the @athertontablelands was formed almost 10,000 years ago when molten magma from the Earth's mantle rose to the surface causing the water table to boil & explode to release the pressure 🌋 Now it's the perfect summertime playground - just don't forget your floaty! ☀️

If swimming doesn't tickle your fancy, take a stroll through the forest walking trail & keep an eye out for the incredible wildlife in the area 🦋
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​📸 @wheresmongone #exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR #seeaustralia  #thisisqueensland
    If magic is what you’re longing for, then it’s time to visit @mossmangorge 💚 Hailed for its sparkling streams, cascading waterfalls & stunning rainforests, this breathtaking gorge holds more secrets than you could ever imagine 🌴 Not only will you find amazing art, great food & an incredible gorge 🦋 But you can learn all about the Kuku Yalanji people & their connection to the land 👣🌿✨
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​📸 @whereiroam_ #thisisqueensland #exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR #seeaustralia

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