7 must-do experiences in the Torres Strait
Just beyond the northernmost tip of mainland Australia lies some of the most electric blue water, incredible islands and a region rich with fascinating culture and history. Welcome to the Torres Strait, 274 islands clustered above Cape York.
Come and see why the breathtakingly beautiful Torres Strait Islands are a must-do destination.
1. Peddells Thursday Island Locals Guided Tour
Starting at the main wharf, you’ll take a scenic drive around the island with the first stop being the Green Hill Fort and museum.
The fort was originally built in the 1890s to guard against the possible threat of a Russian invasion and was an important military headquarters for the Torres Strait in World War II. The underground tunnels and rooms of the fort are now a museum that pays homage to the military and pearling industries.
Allow enough time to soak in the sights from the top of the fort before jumping back on the bus. The views out over the water and neighbouring islands are mindblowing (on a clear day you can even see mainland Australia!)
From here, you’ll visit the Japanese Pearl Divers Memorial at the cemetery and finish with a drive through the residential areas of the island.
2. Gab Titui Cultural Centre
Located on the esplanade at Thursday Island, the Gab Titui Cultural Centre is home to local Indigenous artworks, Torres Strait Islander artifacts and also includes a shop where you can purchase some of this amazing work.
The centre also hosts a number of cultural performances but make sure you book as they regularly sell out!
3. Horn Island Tour – Torres Strait Museum and WWII site tour
The Torres Strait’s military history is relatively unknown to most, however, it was quite an important strategic location in World War II. The Japanese identified Horn Island as a launching base for aircraft and it was the first place in Queensland to be attacked during the war.
Over the course of the war, around 500 bombs were dropped on the island, making it the second-most attacked location in Australia.
Vanessa Seekee and her husband Liberty run the ‘In Their Steps’, which includes an air-conditioned bus tour of military sites on the island. You’ll stop at trenches, aircraft wreckages and underground command posts. A visit to the museum is also a part of the tour with over 400 exhibits containing military, pearling and Indigenous displays.
Personally, I’ve always wanted to visit Horn Island as my grandfather served here during WWII. It was a very touching experience to retrace his steps, see first-hand the old military sites and learn more about the history.
4. Torres Hotel – Australia’s northernmost pub
After a big day exploring the islands, what better way to unwind than with an icy-cold beer.
The Torres Hotel is just a short walk from the town centre with great pub meals, friendly service and you can even pick up a souvenir stubby holder celebrating the fact that it’s Australia’s northernmost pub!
5. Island-hopping with Lax Charters and Tours
Most people visiting the TI group of islands only get to see Horn Island and Thursday Island but if you’d like to get out on the crystal-clear water and explore a bit more of this beautiful region, give Dirk at Lax Charters and Tours a call.
Dirk can take you to some of the most pristine beaches around Friday Island, the waterfall on Prince of Wales (during wet season) or out to see the shipwrecks on Goods Island.
If you’re into fishing and can keep a secret, then Dirk’s fishing charters will take you to the best local hot spots around the islands.
6. Kazu Pearl Farm
Besides its stunning beaches, Friday Island is also home to one of the last pearl farms in Queensland.
Kazu Takami has been running the Kazu Pearl Farm for over 30 years and offers tours with a live demonstration on pearl shell seeding.
You’ll enjoy a delicious Japanese-style lunch and to finish it off you can even buy pearls and pearl shells from the on-site shop. I bought a pearl shell with love heart shapes inside, earning me some serious brownie points with my girlfriend!
7. Sunset at the Green Hill Fort
One of the most popular ways to end a day up here in the Torres Strait is with sunset drinks and nibbles at the Green Hill Fort.
With spectacular views over Horn, Prince of Wales, Hammond, Goods and Friday Islands, locals flock here to unwind and catch up with friends.
It’s only a short 15-minute walk from town and is the premier sunset location on Thursday Island. Don’t forget to bring your wine and cheese!