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.

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    Kicking your week off with breathtaking sights of the @athertontablelands 🍃🦋

Around here, you’ll be treated to an abundance of waterfalls, lakes, local produce and more! 🌴✨ It’s time to explore the rolling hills that stretch for miles, and one of the best places to do it is Millaa Millaa Lookout, also known as the McHugh Lookout 🌱

P.S. get your sightseeing started as the sun rises to catch the golden skies over the Tablelands - and don’t forget your jacket, it’s starting to get chilly 🥶

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    We’re telling you, you WANT to be waiting at the finish line to cheer on our champs in #IMCairns tomomorrow! 🏃‍♂️🌴

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    In case you didn’t already know, @queensland has some pretty epic locations right here on our own shores…especially in Tropical North Queensland 🌴⛵️

Did you know that all of this and more lies just a 2 hour drive from Cairns!? Say hello to the incredible @cassowarycoastaustralia ☀️🏝️

🎥 @_chelseacavo_ #exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR #thisisqueensland #seeaustralia #cassowarycoast #missionbeach

[ID: clips of Mission Beach and Cassowary Coast including: Resort entry overlooking the pool with a pink and yellow sky in the background; boating experience showing snorkelling, blue ocean waters and golden sandy beaches]
    Shout out to @crystalbrookflynn for reminding us that winter in the tropics is unlike anywhere else 🌴❄️

Head to our bio link to find winter activities to book on your next holiday ☝️

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    Happy World Oceans Day! 🌊🐠

Around here, the ocean isn’t just celebrated one day a year - it’s everyday! And here are just a few ways you can dive in while you’re exploring Tropical North Queensland 🩵

Head to our bio link to find more ways to explore ☝️

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    Hey you, time to update your holiday itinerary to include a few of Mareeba’s hidden gems! 🌴✨ 

From quaint museums, epic views over farmlands and incredible waterfalls there’s more to Mareeba than meets the eye! 

Keep an eye out on @visitmareebashire for all the tips and tricks to make your next trip away the best it can be 🙌

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[ID: couple exploring Mareeba including hot air ballooning, feeding wallabies at Granite Gorge Nature Park and going to the heritage museum with antiques from the region]
    Happy World Environment Day! 🦋 

This years theme of #generationrestoration is a fitting one for Tropical North Queensland, with so many awesome initiatives in place to help regenerate our environment - from reef to rainforest and so much more! Here are just a few ways you can get involved 🩵🌴 

📍 Book a tour with an eco-certified operator (we have lots!)
📍 Plant a tree in the rainforest (try @ReforestYourFootprint)
📍 Reduce your waste and help clean up rubbish on our shores
📍 Take part in coral restoration projects and tours
📍 Volunteer at a wildlife rescue facility
📍 Donate to your favourite environmental cause

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    Where better to get your party on this pride month than Tropical North Queensland? 🌈✨

Head to our bio link to join in the festivities and celebrate Cairns’ colourful LGBT+ community ☝️

🎥 thanks to @turtlecoveresort @cairnspridefestival @calypsoclubcairns for footage #exploretnq #explorecairnsgbr #pride #lgbt

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