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

    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

    Trees so tall, you'll have to stretch back your neck to see the sky 👀🌴 The magical @paronellapark is home to over 7000 trees, including the must-see Kauri Avenue 🌲 From #Cairns, drive 120 kilometres south to Paronella Park to see for yourself the romantic oasis that everyone marvels about 🙌🌿
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📸 @aworldtoexplore.dk  #thisisqueensland #exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR #seeaustralia #paronellapark
    If the only trills you’ve heard in a while have come from notifications on your devices, it’s time to plan your escape from the sounds of the city & replace them with the bird calls of the forest, at @rosegumswildernessretreat on the @athertontablelands 🌿✨
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​📸 @phlipvids #thisisqueensland #exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR #seeaustralia
    Did you know that the fish sculptures at the Cairns Esplanade Lagoon, by Torres Strait Islander artist Brian Robinson, are modelled on smaller fish usually woven with palm leaves in traditional Indigenous artwork 🐠🌴 #Cairns is the perfect place to spend the day on your next tropical holiday - quirky markets, incredible food & luxury stays, this is where your holiday begins ☀️🌊 
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​📸 @danandmoore #exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR #seeaustralia  #thisisqueensland
    Winter is in a few months time, you know what that means...​It's almost dwarf minke whale season! 🐋 
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​While 'dwarf' might not seem like the right word to describe a creature up to 8 metres in length & almost 6 tonnes heavy 🏋️‍♂️ They’re actually much smaller in comparison to their common minke cousins! Little is known about this pocket-sized whale, but the @gbrmarinepark is the only known predictable aggregation in the world & the only place where people are able to swim alongside this majestic animal 🐠🤿 
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​One thing that we do know is that these curious creatures love to hang around boats & divers to show off a little ⛵️ But only for a few months of the year, so if you’re looking to make friends with a minke head on over to @mikeballdive 🐚🌊
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​You'll have a whale of a time 😉

📸 @seajewlz #thisisqueensland  #seeaustralia #exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR #dwarfminkewhale
    When you get the chance, this could be your own personal slice of heaven 🌴☀️ Say hello to one of the most beautiful palm fringed beaches you’ll ever see ⛵️🌴 #PalmCove is a tiny enclave of endless luxury beachfront hotels, fine-dining & relaxing spa retreats 🍝 

Will you be visiting soon? 🐚📍
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​📸 @wherenextnicole  #exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR #seeaustralia #thisisqueensland
    How we feel about the first week back at work 😴

If you’re still out & about in @tropicalnorthqueensland, or are looking for somewhere to spend your weekend (if you’re not in isolation that is! 🥴😷) our friends at @wildlifehabitat are patiently waiting for visitors 🐨

To everyone stuck at home…we miss you & can’t wait to see you back exploring the tropics soon! 💙🌴

#exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR #thisisqueensland #seeaustralia #koala #wildlife
    There’s nothing that stays with you quite like the moment you leap off @australia’s only bungy tower 🪂🤙

At @skyparkcairns, there’s a level of adrenaline suitable for every member of the family, from plunging head first into the natural lagoon below, to swinging amongst the rainforest canopy, or even a simple adventure to the top of the tower for incredible views over #Cairns 🌿✨ If you fancy a little bit of adrenaline with your feet still firmly planted on the ground, the new Walk the Plank experience sees you stepping out onto a plank 140m above sea level 🙌

If you’re not so keen on the adrenaline pumping action, Skypark Cairns is also a great place for lunch and drinks 🍻

#exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR #thisisqueensland #seeaustralia #bungyjump #bungy #adrenaline
    Pool bar anyone? 🌴🍹

Holidays are in full swing at @novotelcairns! Spend the day relaxing by the pool, wander the lush tropical gardens, or head out to discover the best of #Cairns (did someone say @gbrmarinepark trip?) 🐠🌿 Don’t worry, we know you will get tired & hungry after a long day in the sunshine, that’s why you can head straight up to your room at Novotel for a refreshing shower before dinner at @moku_cairns ☀️🥗

A warm welcome awaits 🐚✨
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​#thisisqueensland  #exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR #seeaustralia
    Christmas tree? Nah, Christmas Tree Worm 🎄

There’s plenty of wild & whacky creatures on the @gbrmarinepark but there’s none more festive than this little guy spotted at #MackayCay with @sailawayportdouglas 🥳

Fun Fact: once Christmas tree worms find a place they like, they don’t tend to leave. In fact, while you might be able to see their colourful crowns, most of their bodies are actually anchored in coral burrows 🐚🌊 If you get too close & give them a fright, they’ll disappear into their burrows 🤿

The countdown is on…3 days ’til Christmas 🎁
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​#seeaustralia #thisisqueensland #exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR

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