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 culture, breathtaking scenery and WWII history.

Roko Island Pearl Farm in the Torres Strait
Roko Island Pearl Farm

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.

Torres Strait Islands scenic flight with Nautilus Aviation
Scenic flight with Nautilus Aviation

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.

Island Stars Dance Troupe performing on the beach at Prince of Wales Island in the Torres Strait
Island Stars Dance Troupe performing on Prince of Wales Island

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.

Green Hill Fort on Thursday Island
Green Hill Fort

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.

Torres Strait Eco Adventures fishing tour
Torres Strait Eco Adventures fishing tour

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; or take to the skies on a scenic helicopter flight.

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 Nautilus Aviation, and Helitours North Queensland. Private charter services are also available.

    #exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR

    We 🩵 waterfall season!

No matter how many times you see it, a beautiful snap of the famous #EnllinjaaFalls is undeniably breathtaking 💦🍃 This @wettropicsworldheritage listed plunge is just one of the incredible stops along the Waterfall Circuit 🚘🌴 While you’re here, don’t forget to explore the other gems of the @athertontablelands - #MillaaMillaa & #ZillieFalls just to name a few 💫

📸 chloe_purchase.x #exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR #ThisIsQueensland #SeeAustralia
    Where else would you rather be this weekend? 💁‍♀️ For arts, culture and incredible lush rainforest, set your sights on @MossmanGorge 🌴✨

🎥 @sarahjanegriffiths #exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR #PortDouglasDaintree
    In the wise words of our friend Dory, "I shall call him squishy and he shall be mine and he shall be my squishy" 🪼🪼

🎥 @reefencountercairns #exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR
    Michaelmas Cay isn’t just a picture perfect sand cay, it’s also a significant breeding site for many species of birds including noddies, boobies (yes, really) and terns with up to 20,000 breeding pairs on the island at one time 🐦✨🏝️

📸 @theverticalpixel #exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR 

Note: Filmed under permit. Outside the cay/reef area. Image cropped and zoomed. @theverticalpixel has GBRMPA permit.
    Would you dare to swim with the crocs? 🐊

While you definitely shouldn’t try it in the wild, here at @wildlifehabitat you can get up close and personal safely at the CrocArena 🤩

🎥 @mish_loves_fish #exploretnq #explorecairnsgbr
    Where better to kick back and relax than in a real-life volcanic crater (aka #LakeEacham) 🌴✨ 

🎥 @passaporte_portugues #exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR
    Are you ready to rendezvous with the Great Barrier Reef Drive once again? 🚗🌴
 
The coastal road from Cairns to @portdouglasdaintree is open and here are just a few of the experiences you’ve been waiting for, but there’s so much more to explore to grab the keys and hit the road!
 
✨ @ellisbeachbargrill
✨ @hartleyscrocodileadventures
✨ Rex Lookout
✨ @thalabeach
✨ @big4_portdouglas
✨ @choochoosatthemarina
 
Head to @tropicalnorthqueensland’s bio link for all the holiday tips & tricks! #exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR #ThisIsQueensland #SeeAustralia
 
[ID: There is a mixture of footage captured from drove and in point of view format. The footage features a young family on a road trip from Cairns to Port Douglas, stopping at locations including Ellis Beach, Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures, Rex Lookout, Thala Beach Nature Reserve, BIG4 Port Douglas Glengarry Holiday Park and Choo Choos at the Marina.]
    Take a moment to enjoy the colours of sunrise on the Cairns Esplanade 🌅✨

📸 @s_well85 #exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR
    @daintreetours is ready to take you into the rainforest with their NEW Southern Daintree Explorer tour 🌴

Join the team of experienced guides on this exclusive small group experience as you explore some of the most breathtaking locations in the southern side of the #DaintreeRainforest 🙌

Book your tour now!

📸 @daintreetours #exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR
    Happy World Wetlands Day 🌴🙌

One of our favourite wetlands to explore near #Cairns is the Cattana Wetlands. Originally a sugar cane farm, this site has been a protected wetland for over 20 years, with hundreds of thousands of native plants (and incredible bird life) flourishing 🌿

Settle in for the day with bbq and picnic areas, beautiful boardwalks and incredible birdwatching 🦜

⚠️ This image is not recent, however the Cattana Wetlands are currently open, accessible and just as beautiful as ever! 🌴💙

 📸 @shazspannenburg #exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR #wetlands #birdwatching

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