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

    Ever wanted to swim with the crocs? 🐊😳

Yeah neither have we, that’s why @wildlifehabitat built the croc tank where you can safely swim next to some magnificent saltwater crocodiles and see them in action right up close

Did you know that saltwater crocodiles don’t always live in salt water? Also known as the estuarine crocodile, these guys are more likely to be spotted in freshwater creeks and mangroves but are sometimes found travelling from one place to another through the ocean 🌊

🎥 @amys.camera.lens #tropicalnorthqueensland #wildlife #crocodile #exploretnq #explorecairnsgbr
    Yee-haw partners 🤠🤠

📍 Send this to someone you want to take to @kurcowbarnwellfarm 

#exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR #kurand
    We hear that the Cardwell Spa Pool in @cassowarycoastaustralia has been looking particularly blue this week 🩵🌴

Have you been out to visit? Don’t forget to tag us in your photos so we can follow along on the adventure 💫🚙

📸 @ranijayzee #exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR #thisisqueensland #seeaustralia #cassowarycoast

[ID: Two people swimming in the bright blue water of the Cardwell Spa Pool, surrounded by green trees. The ground and trees are damp from recent rainfall.]
    If only every day could finish on a high like this 💫 

@yagurlitours and @balloonaloft have teamed up to give you the chance to experience a breathtaking hot air balloon float over  spectacular Gulf country 🌅✨

Australia’s largest salt pans can be found in Burketown in the Gulf of Carpentaria, country of the Gangalidda & Garawa peoples. This incredible tour teaches guests about connection to the land & how the intricate weave of patterns & textures below closely resemble the beautiful art they create 👣🌺

Tours are currently scheduled through July and August, so don’t miss your chance to experience the beauty of the outback from a balloon basket ☀️

🎥 @bronni #exploretnq #explorecairnsgbr #gulfsavannah #outback
    As much as we love chatting to you all online, don’t forget to look up from your screen sometimes…we’ve got some pretty great stuff to see out there! 🌴✨

📍@skyrailcairns

📸 @_sarahlatham #exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR
    Immerse yourself in the rich First Nations cultures of Tropical North Queensland at @ShineOnGimuy from 3-13 October 2024! With mesmerising light sculptures, cultural dance, educational conversations, workshops, live music, and more – this is one event you don’t want to miss ✨👣
 
Make your trip a little more special by heading to the Great Barrier Reef aboard @DreamtimeCairns, cruise the Trinity Inlet around Gimuy (Cairns) with @Mandingalbay or explore further with one of our welcoming First Nations tour guides 🌴
 
#ExploreTNQ #ExploreCairnsGBR #ShineOnGimuy #QldMusicTrails #TropicsTrail
    Holy croc-amole 🐊

If there’s one place where spotting crocs is a crowd favourite, it’s Tropical North Queensland! There’s a lot to learn about these prehistoric creatures & around here you don’t just have to read it in a book! 🌿

Catch a croc presentation at one of our awesome wildlife parks, or try a wildlife spotting cruise to safely visit our scaly friends 🌴✨

You might even be lucky enough to spot one in the wild on your own travels, but remember to always be Croc-wise ⚠️

📍 Rinuirru (Lakefield National Park) is home to nine different Aboriginal clans - the Lama Lama and Kuku Thaypan peoples, the Bagaarrmugu, Mbarimakarranma, Muunydyiwarra, Magarrmagarrwarra, Balnggarrwarra and Gunduurwarra clans and some related families. 

🎥 @overlandtravellers #exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR #thisisqueensland #seeaustralia #capeyork
    Looking for some art that rocks? Look no further! 😉

Tropical North Queensland is home to a huge array of breathtaking Indigenous rock art sites, so we thought we’d bring you along to explore some in #Chillagoe ✨ 

There are two publicly accessible Aboriginal art sites here, the Wullumba and the Mundane site (pictured in post). We know Chillagoe is a great destination for all you history buffs, so why not make it a little more special with a trip to see this historic art 👣

#exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR #Indigenousrockart #rockart #naidocweek

    Subscribe to
    our newsletter

    Opt in below to start receiving inspiration straight to your inbox

    Subscribe

    * indicates required