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Friday Island, Torres Strait Islands, Queensland © Mark Fitz

5 reasons to visit the extraordinary Torres Strait Islands

The remote islands of Torres Strait are home to a unique Aboriginal culture and a virtually untouched natural environment.

By Lucy Jones

The Torres Strait Islands are a world unto themselves. Almost 300 islands dot the ocean like stepping stones from the northern tip of  Cape York  to Papua New Guinea. Very few are inhabited – and only a handful permit visitors – but intrepid travellers who venture to Australia’s northernmost outpost will be rewarded with a glimpse into a fascinating culture, stunning landscapes and a slice of history.

This is a cultural crossroads

Torres Strait Cultural Festival, Torres Strait Islands, QLD © Peter Lik, Tourism and Events Queensland

Torres Strait Cultural Festival, Torres Strait Islands, Queensland © Peter Lik, Tourism and Events Queensland

Two of the oldest cultures on Earth meet in the Torres Strait Islands. Aboriginal Torres Strait Islanders are of Melanesian descent, but have interacted with Aboriginal people from Tropical North Queensland for tens of thousands of years. The result is a rich and vibrant culture with strong traditions of dance, colourful headdresses, masks, carving and printmaking. Each of the islands’ small communities has its own distinct practices, so you’ll discover something new every day. Visit Gab Titui Cultural Centre on Thursday Island to view intricate art from Torres Strait Islander artists.

The fishing is out of this world

Friday Island, Torres Strait Islands, QLD © Mark Fitz

Friday Island, Torres Strait Islands, Queensland © Mark Fitz

Whether you throw a line in from the wharf on Horn Island , fish with your feet in the waves on Friday Island or head out into the crystal-clear waters of the Arafura Sea, there’s a fishing adventure for you in the Torres Strait Islands. With minimal commercial fishing in the region, you’ll find fish like coral trout, sail fish, mackerel, golden snapper and red emperor in huge numbers. Throw out your line on your own, or join one of several local fishing tours, including Lax Charters and Tours  and Nomad Sportfishing Adventures .

The military history is fascinating

Green Hill Fort, Thursday Island, Torres Strait Islands, QLD © Mark Fitz

Green Hill Fort, Thursday Island, Torres Strait Islands, Queensland © Mark Fitz

The Torres Strait Islands sit between Australia and the rest of the world, so have long played a role in Australia’s defence. Green Hill Fort on Thursday Island is one of the oldest military fortifications in the country, built between 1891 and 1893 to defend the colony against a potential Russian invasion. More than 5,000 Australian and American personnel were stationed on Horn Island during World War II and the Japanese regularly bombed the island. Almost 900 Torres Strait Islanders volunteered for service here, and Horn Island was the only place in Australia where Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal soldiers served side by side. Gun emplacements, slit trenches, an RAAF airstrip and even a wrecked aircraft remain on the island, a sobering reminder of how close the war came to mainland Australia.

torres strait tourism

Australia's most beautiful islands

It’s Australia’s original pearling region

Pearls, Friday Island, Torres Strait Islands, QLD © Mark Fitz

Pearls, Friday Island, Torres Strait Islands, Queensland © Mark Fitz

Commercial pearling in the Torres Strait dates back to the 1870s, predating the industry in Broome by about a decade. Pearling in the region had its ups and downs, but was revived in the 1960s and you can now visit two working pearl farms on the islands. Roko Pearls , on private Roko Island, and Kazu Pearls , on remote Friday Island grow cultured pearls in the warm tropical waters. You can walk over the beds on a floating jetty, see how pearls are harvested and even take home a one-of-a-kind piece of jewellery.

The islands are virtually undiscovered

Friday Island, Torres Strait Islands, QLD © Mark Fitz

Forget crowds – in the Torres Strait Islands, there’s a good chance you won’t ever see another tourist. Some of that is down to logistics. Only a few of the islands permit visitors, you may need to arrange permits and transport options are limited. But step foot on these picture-perfect islands and that will all be forgotten. Tiny villages lined with leaves and flowers, blissful beaches and laid-back locals are waiting to welcome you to this little slice of paradise.

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Embark on a Journey to the Remote and Exotic Charm of Torres Strait Islands

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About the Torres Strait Island

Embark on a journey to the Torres Strait Islands, a fascinating group of over 270 islands located in the far north of Queensland, Australia. Steeped in history, culture, and natural beauty, these islands offer a unique and unforgettable experience for travellers seeking a remote and exotic destination.

Immerse in Rich History and Culture

The Torres Strait Islands are rich in history and culture, offering a unique blend of Indigenous Melanesian traditions and contemporary Australian influences. From ancient rock art to vibrant dance festivals, the islands are a living testament to the resilience and creativity of the Torres Strait Islander peoples. 

Explore Breathtaking Natural Beauty

The Torres Strait Islands are a haven of natural beauty, from pristine beaches to lush rainforests and vibrant coral reefs. The islands are home to a diverse array of flora and fauna, making them a paradise for nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts. Discover the natural beauty of the Torres Strait Islands on

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Fitness classes, hand massage, coffee morning, secured parking, airport pick up, daily housekeeping, restaurant and bar’s, things to do in the torres strait island.

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Explore The Torres Strait Islands

The Torres Strait Islands are divided into two main groups: the western islands, which are closer to Papua New Guinea, and the eastern islands, which are closer to the Australian mainland. The islands vary in size and population, but they all share a rich culture and history.

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Thursday Island: The Heart of the Torres Strait

One of the most popular islands to visit is Thursday Island, located in the central part of the Torres Strait. This island is the administrative centre for the region and is home to a diverse population of Torres Strait Islanders, Aboriginal Australians, and people of European and Asian descent. Thursday Island is a great place to learn about the region's history, culture, and traditions, and visitors can explore local museums, art galleries, and historic sites.

Badu-Island

Popular Islands to Visit in the Torres Strait

Other popular islands to visit include Badu Island, which is known for its vibrant arts and culture scene, and Boigu Island, which is the northernmost inhabited island in Australia and offers spectacular views of the surrounding ocean.

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A Unique and Unforgettable Travel Experience

No matter which island you choose to visit, the Torres Strait Islands offer a unique and unforgettable travel experience. From the rich culture and history to the stunning natural beauty, there is something for everyone on these remote and exotic islands.

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Popular activities

To get the most out of your visit, it's recommended to plan ahead and book accommodations and activities in advance. Popular activities on the islands include snorkelling, diving, fishing, and exploring local cultural sites and landmarks.

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Get To know Torres Strait:

Uncover the Answers to Your Burning Questions About Torres Strait: An Exciting Guide for Curious Travellers

The Torres Strait Islands are located in the far north of Queensland, Australia, between the tip of Cape York Peninsula and Papua New Guinea.

The easiest way to get to the Torres Strait Islands is by flying from Cairns to Horn Island or Thursday Island. Alternatively, there are ferry services that operate between the islands and the mainland.

The best time to visit the Torres Strait Islands is during the dry season, which runs from May to October. This is when the weather is mild and the water is clear for snorkelling and diving.

The Torres Strait Islands have a rich and unique culture that is a blend of Aboriginal, Melanesian, and Western influences. Visitors can learn about the local culture through museums, art galleries, and cultural tours.

Popular activities on the islands include snorkelling, diving, fishing, exploring local cultural sites and landmarks, and enjoying the natural beauty of the islands.

Yes, there are a variety of accommodation options available on the islands, including hotels, guesthouses, and camping sites.

Visitors to the Torres Strait Islands may require a permit, depending on the purpose and duration of their visit. It is recommended to check with local authorities before planning your trip.

It's recommended to pack lightweight and breathable clothing, as well as sunscreen, a hat, and insect repellent. Don't forget to bring snorkelling or diving gear if you plan to participate in water activities.

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Queensland Traveller acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Country and recognise their continuing connection to land, waters, culture and community. We pay our respects to Elders past, present and future.

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Torres Strait Islands

torres strait tourism

  • 1.1 Inner islands
  • 1.2 Outer islands
  • 2.1 History
  • 2.2 Geography
  • 4.1 By plane
  • 4.2 By ferry
  • 4.3 By boat
  • 5.1 By plane
  • 5.2 By helicopter
  • 5.3 By ferry
  • 5.4 By water taxi
  • 5.5 By freighter/barge
  • 6.1 Possession Island National Park
  • 11 Stay healthy
  • 13 Stay safe

The Torres Strait Islands are a group of islands to the north of the Australian mainland, stretching nearly as far as Papua New Guinea . There are 14 inhabited islands, but only the two neighbouring islands of Thursday Island and Horn Island have developed visitor facilities. These two islands are the most visited and have regular scheduled air and ferry connections. The other islands are left to the more intrepid voyager or those with business with the indigenous communities. To visit as a tourist, plan ahead, including gaining permission from the island Chairman. Scheduled light aircraft, helicopters, water taxis, barges, and private boats allow access to all inhabited islands or even the possibility of spending a day or night on an entirely uninhabited island.

Many of these islands are however remote – some so remote that they are closer to Papua New Guinea than any other part of Australia , and some are about as far away as 170 km (110 mi) from the mainland. These islands are the only place in internationally recognised Australia where it is possible to see another sovereign country.

Islands and island regions

torres strait tourism

Inner islands

  • Thursday Island is the main population and administrative centre.
  • Horn Island host the primary airport a 10 minute ferry ride from Thursday Island.

Other inhabited islands in this group, are Prince of Wales, Friday Island, Goodes Island and Hammond Island. Possession Island is an uninhabited National Park in this group. These islands are a ferry/water taxi away from Thursday Island, or even Seisia on the mainland.

Outer islands

These islands are less visited, due to their being even more remote than the Inner Islands. Some require permits.

  • Western islands - Saibai, Duaun and Boigu
  • Central islands - Badu, Moa, Mabuiag and Yam
  • Eastern islands - Warraber, Coconut, Yorke, Stephen, Darnley and Murray

The Torres Strait Islanders were the first Indigenous Australians to gain legal recognition of their ownership of the land. Traditionally they were fierce headhunters until the arrival of the missionaries (celebrated yearly throughout the Islands on July 1st as "The Coming of the Light".) Islanders are often very generous and keen to share their culture.

Residents of most of the islands are still Indigenous Australians (with the ratio of around 6 to 1). Non-indigenous residents are primarily on Horn and Thursday islands, and are often temporary, employed in education and health, policing and military, or hospitality.

Torres Strait Islander peoples have a distinct culture, history and lands and do not identify as Aboriginal. In fact, they are more ethnically Melanesian than their southern neighbours, although they were subject to the same kinds of discrimination under British colonialism. Unlike their southern neighbours though, their languages are still spoken today.

Thursday Island is the main administrative centre, with a population of around 4000 people on an island only 3.5 km 2 . It has a permanently manned military barracks. Neighbouring Horn Island has the main airport, with air links to Cairns and light aircraft links to several other inhabited islands. It has a smaller population of around 600, but a much larger land mass of 60 km 2 . Most residents of Horn commute to Thursday for work and education, and there is a regular ferry service between the two.

  • Torres Strait Tourism office , 68 Douglas Street, Thursday Island , ☏ +61 7 4069 1336 , fax : +61 7 4069 1845 , [email protected] . maps and advice.  

On Horn and Thursday Island, English is universally spoken, with Torres Strait Creole considered the local language of the indigenous residents. You can find translations available in local shops, or online. It is in many respects similar to Tok Pisin spoken in Papua New Guinea

There are two main indigenous languages in the islands: Meriam Mir in the Eastern islands, and Kala Lagaw Ya in the rest. Most people on the other islands also speak English, although with a great deal of local slang included.

Learning a few words of Torres Strait Creole may make you quite popular with the locals. Wikivoyage also has a Torres Strait Creole phrasebook .

  • Thank you = Esso
  • Food = kaikai
  • Goodbye = Yawo

Qantaslink has daily flights from Cairns to Horn Island . The two ferry companies that transfer to TI both meet every Cairns flight arrival, with transfers to the wharf, and connecting services to TI. From TI you can arrange a boat to some other islands. For some you'll need to get permission from the land council before you travel. The ferry costs $9 for the McDonalds ferry $10 for the Rebel ferry. The bus transfer to the airport costs more than the ferry, around $12-$13 each way.

Peddell's Ferries provides twice daily passenger transport by boat to Thursday Island from Seisia, on the mainland at Cape York. The services operate 3 days a week during the wet, and six days a week in the dry season. Check their website for up-to-date timetables and fares. Tickets can be booked online. Seisia itself is usually completely isolated by road during the wet season.

Sea Swift operate two freighters to many of the Torres Strait islands from Cairns and down the Cape as far as Weipa . The freighters carry up to eight passengers.

Those intent on a road trip can get a barge from Seisia on Cape York .

You can also get in from Papua New Guinea if you have your own boat. If you do so, you will need to check in with the department of immigration once you land.

Your car can be taken all the way up to Cape York on the mainland, but after that, you'll need to find some other way of getting to those islands. Note that while on a Mercador map the Torres Strait Islands might seem very close to Cairns, it's about 1100km from Cairns, which is greater than the distance between Barcelona and Zurich, or on an Australian perspective, Sydney and Brisbane.

Do mind that most of these roads aren't paved, and most of them are closed during the wet season. Going in dry season is the best time to take your car.

West Wing has scheduled flights to Murray Island, Darnley Island, Yorke Island, Boigu Island, Saibai Island, Badu Island, Kubin Village, Warraber Island, Coconut Island, Yam Island, and Mabuiag Island. These flights work around the Qantaslink flights out to Cairns.

If you have 4 or more people travelling, compare the price of a charter before booking the scheduled service.

By helicopter

The islands without airstrips usually still have helicopter landing pads. GBR helicopters operate charters from Horn Island, and between islands.

Scheduled ferries only between Horn and Thursday Island. These ferries also have bus connections to all points on both islands.

By water taxi

Water taxis are the easiest way to travel from Thursday Island to the neighbouring Inner Islands. Hammond, Prince of Wales, and Friday Island. You can also visit the unpopulated Possession Island and Wednesday Island.

  • Wis Wei Water Taxi .  

By freighter/barge

You can see WWII history on both Thursday and Horn Islands, with old military installations dating back to the early 20th century. The Green Hill fort on Thursday Island has a museum in the old tunnels. Horn Island has a private museum of documented history and relics maintained by a local enthusiast.

You can see cemetery on Thursday Island, including the graves of the pearlers buried down the bottom of the hill, with the island aristocracy at the top.

Friday island has a pearl farm, and has a sushi restaurant and a shop.

  • -10.601844 142.175168 1 Kazu Pearl ( Water Taxi from TI ). $90 including transfer from TI, or $65 if you have your own boat .  
  • Goods Island

Possession Island National Park

torres strait tourism

This island is locally known as Bedanug and Bedhan Lag. In 2001 the Kaurareg people successfully claimed native title rights over the island, and other nearby islands.

Here Captain Cook claimed possession of the entire east coast he had explored for Britain, on 22 August 1770. Endeavour had reached the northernmost tip of the coast and, without disembarking, Cook named the last seen mainland Cape York. Leaving the Australian east coast, the battered ship turned west and nursed his way through the dangerously shallow waters of Torres Strait. Searching for a vantage point, Cook saw a steep hill on a nearby island, from the top of which he hoped to see "a passage into the Indian Seas". He disembarked, named the island "Possession Island", and claimed the entire coastline that he had just explored as British territory.

In his journal, he wrote: "I now once more hoisted English Coulers and in the Name of His Majesty King George the Third took possession of the whole Eastern Coast...by the name New South Wales, together with all the Bays, Harbours Rivers and Islands situate upon the said coast".

Today, it's the centre of a National Park, an area of 5.10 km2 (1.97 sq mi), established as a Protected Area in 1977, and managed by the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service.

The fishing is absolutely amazing in the crystal clear waters of the Torres Strait. Although quarantine regulations control what can be taken back to mainland Australia, freshly caught fish in ice boxes are permitted.

Snorkelling on the reefs is pretty good too, but caution is required as some reefs house sharks and crocodiles.

  • Peddell's Thursday Island Tours , Thursday Island/Waibene , ☏ +61 7 40 691 551 . Peddell's Ferries provide package tours of Thursday Island/Horn Island combined with return ferry from Seisia, Cape York. Tours include the Green Hill Fort and Horn Island WW2 Museum  
  • Walking , Thursday Island/Waibene . There are numerous tracks around Thursday Island that are accessible to the public, and don't take very long. You can walk up to the radio tower/wind turbine for great views of the surrounding islands, and a good sunset. You can walk around the island to Sadies beach, along the road or along an elevated track that starts in the main town. Along this track you can see numerous plants, ant hills, birds, and remains of old war lookouts. Going the other way out of the main township, you can walk to Quarantine Wharf (not well marked on maps so you may have to backtrack once there). There is also a patch of rain forest near Green Hill Fort, both which are nice to walk to.  

General stores are found on all the inhabited Islands, and there are also several restaurants on Thursday island, mainly along Douglas Street. Try "Island Rooster" for nice roast chicken. Behind one of the pubs you can purchase superb "kilogram burgers".

Most of the food available to other Torres Strait islanders is seafood. On Prince of Wales island feral deer can be hunted. If you have made friends with the islanders, you may be invited to join in feasts which include traditional foods such as turtle and dugong. Although it is considered rude to refuse an invitation in Torres Strait Culture, be aware that dugongs are an endangered species. It is illegal to hunt these animals if you are not an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. Turtles are also protected and may not be hunted.

Amazing linocut artworks. Although based on traditional carving methods, this style of art is actually a relatively recent invention. Can be purchased from the Gab Titui culture centre. Cheap pearls. Pearls are farmed on Friday Island, so be sure to take advantage of the low cost, high quality pearls. In Saranealis House (its the big pink building on Douglas street, Thursday Island). They cost about a third of what you would find in Cairns and around a quarter of what you would expect in other major Australian cities.

Developed accommodation is available on Thursday Island and Horn Island, and at Seisia on the mainland.

Stay healthy

Dengue fever occasionally occurs, but shouldn't be much of a problem (there has only been one death in Australia due to dengue in the last 50 years). Just make sure you use insect repellent. Malaria rarely occurs on the islands closest to PNG. Be aware of the tropical climate. It can get very hot and muggy so wear loose clothing and drink lots of water.

Thursday Island has a 32 bed modern hospital, including 24-hour emergency facilities and operating theatre. There are some medical supplies held on the other islands. For serious medical conditions transfer to Thursday Island, or the further 4 hour transfer to Cairns may be required.

Make sure you are very respectful of Islander culture by not going to ceremonies without invitation. Also be aware that the indigenous people here do not identify as "Aboriginal"; just stick to the term "Torres Strait Islander" instead as they are more ethnically Melanesian than Aboriginal. If you are unsure, then just say "indigenous".

Do not go out alone on Friday night. Late on a Friday night you will encounter intoxicated locals. They are usually very friendly, but always exercise caution - plan your return journey home ahead. Most pubs are within walking distance to accommodation but to be absolutely safe, get a cab unless you are walking with a group — including locals if possible.

If you wish to go swimming make sure you go with locals who know where they're going. While snorkelling on the reefs is beautiful, some have resident sharks and/or crocodiles. The locals know which reefs to avoid. Also beware of strong tides and currents.

The easiest way to leave is by plane from Horn Island to Cairns domestic airport. There are some restrictions on what items you can take due to Australia's Quarantine laws.

Peddell's Ferries provides passenger transport by boat from Thursday Island to Seisia, Cape York. Check their website for up-to-date timetables and fares. Tickets can be booked online. Again, Australian Quarantine laws apply.

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  • When To Visit

The Torres Strait has two seasons: wet and dry.

To avoid stinging jellyfish (affectionately known as stingers) and the rain, it’s best to visit during the dry season, from May to September. We believe the seasons of the Torres Strait are best described using Torres Strait Islanders own Traditional Ecological Knowledge which recognise four distinct seasons throughout the year:

  • Naigai – Naigai is the season of hot dry weather and calm winds. The constant wind of Woerr eases during this time and the seas become calm. During Naigai, the sky remains red for a long time at sunset (Kulkanathan), indicating that the weather will be Muthuru (fine).
  • Zei – Zei is the season between Naigai and Kuki. It is a short season, when the wind comes from the south-west and blows in the afternoon. Zei will blow stronger closer to the full moon and the new moon. The Zei wind is described by Masigalgal as a ‘jealous wind’ that ‘fights’ (or alternates) with Naigai and Kuki.
  • Kuki – The coming of Kuki season is indicated by the build-up of Begai (big storm clouds) together with lightning in the far north-west. When Kuki arrives, the wind blows from the north-west and brings heavy rain and squalls with hot and humid weather.
  • Woerr – The Woerr season is named for the Woerr wind (also called Sagerr) which blows from the south-east and is the predominant wind throughout most of the year in the Torres Strait. Woerr is considered by Masigalgal to be a forceful wind with a strong personality- it can blow from April to September.

The timing and duration of these four seasons varies from year to year and for generations, Torres Strait islanders have observed signs in the winds, weather, sea life, plants and animals that tell them when one season is expected to change to another.

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Strait Experience recognises the Traditional Owners of the land on which we operate. We acknowledge the past and present elders of all Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal people in the Torres Strait and Northern Peninsula Area and respect the culture and lore of all Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal people in the region. We acknowledge the traditional owners of the Kaiwalagal area, the Kaurareg Traditional Owners, from which Strait Experience operates from.

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Our primary focus is to ensure our guests experience the natural wonders of the area, whilst fostering environmental and cultural understanding, appreciation and conservation. At all times we will give due consideration and inclusion to the historical and cultural values, protocols, traditions, family and connection to the land of the Indigenous people.

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Torres Strait Eco Adventures recognises the Traditional Owners of the land on which we operate. We acknowledge the past and present elders of all Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal peoples in the Torres Strait and Northern Peninsula Area and respect the culture and lore of all Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal peoples in the region. With special acknowledgment to the traditional owners of the Kaiwalagal area – the Kaurareg people and the traditional owners of the tip of Cape York – the Gudang Yadhaykenu people, as well as the traditional owners from all areas where Torres Strait Eco Adventures operates from.

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HAMMOND ISLAND FERRY

Providing a thursday island and horn island ferry service.

Torres Strait Tours provides fast, reliable transfers between Horn, Thursday and Hammond Islands. We have a modern fleet of vessels, which are airconditioned for your comfort and the TI-Horn ferry services connect with our Horn Island bus to transport you to or from Horn Island Airport. We recommend booking in advance, which can be done on our website, by email [email protected] or phone 07 4069 1586. Travel with Torres Strait Tours and enjoy excellent service and convenience.

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Small is beautiful: the Torres Strait island everyone wants to visit First Nations First

A tiny beach shack on a remote Island in the Torres Strait has become one of the world’s most desired tourist destinations. After making it onto the Forbes top fifty places to visit - Badu Island has put the region on the global tourism map. Traditional Owners say the venture is helping them care for country and grow their island economy.

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Virgin Australia plane bound for Melbourne forced to divert to Invercargill after engine fire

A Virgin Australia plane has landed safely in New Zealand after a fire shut down one of its engines, the nation's fire service said.

The Boeing 737-800 jet was bound for Melbourne, with 67 passengers and six crew members on board, when the engine fire forced a diversion to Invercargill Airport. 

Virgin Australia chief operations officer, Stuart Aggs, said in an emailed statement the incident may have resulted from "a possible bird strike".

Flames were seen shortly after the plane took off from Queenstown Airport at 5.50pm local time. 

No further information about what happened at the time of the incident was known, said Catherine Nind, an airport spokesperson.

"At this time, we are not aware of any physical injuries to guests or crew," Mr Aggs said. 

Passengers will be accommodated in Invercargill overnight and new flights will be arranged, he said.

Queenstown, with a population of 53,000, is a popular tourist destination on New Zealand's South Island, famous for skiing, adventure tourism and alpine vistas.

The rate of birds striking planes at New Zealand's airports is about four in every 10,000 aircraft movements, the country's aviation regulator says on its website. 

The consequences vary in severity depending on where the aircraft is hit, the size of the birds and the pilot's reaction, the Civil Aviation Authority says.

It comes after New Zealand Prime Minister Christopher Luxon was forced to take a commercial flight to Japan on Sunday when a defence force plane broke down.

New Zealand media reported that the Boeing (BA.N) 757 broke down during a refuelling stop in Papua New Guinea, leaving the business delegation and journalists stranded in Port Moresby, while Mr Luxon flew commercial to Japan.

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  • You can now experience the Torres Strait on a day tour from Cairns

One day return trip (ex. Cairns)

Horn & Thursday Islands

7:30am to 6:15pm

April to September

When you think of islands in Australia, the Torres Strait Islands may not be what springs to mind for most people, but with their unique history, culture and untouched beauty, they should be. 

Not only does this archipelago claim the most northerly part of Australia and the closest point to our nearest international border – approximately 5kms between the most northern island and Papua New Guinea – there are at least 274 islands surrounded by fringing reef, turquoise seas and abundant marine life. Of these islands, only 17 are inhabited, of which are divided into five major island clusters (Nations). 

Due to its remote location, limited people have the privilege of seeing this paradise, so two friends Fraser Nai, Traditional Owner of Yorke (Masig) Island, and John Palmer wanted to offer a service that allowed people to visit in an attainable way. And thus, A Strait Day was born.

Strait Experience

Fraser Nai and tour guest on Horn island

Strait Experience - Island Stars

Joey Laifoo's Island Stars

Strait Experience - Crayfish

Enjoy an Island Style feast including local crayfish

Strait Experience’s one day tour allows you to explore two of the more populated islands, Thursday (Waiben) and Horn (Ngarupai), as well as enjoy a scenic flight along the east coast of the Cape York Peninsula, the tip of Cape York and the southern islands of the Torres Strait. The tour departs from Cairns Airport on Skytrans at 7:30am and returns at 6:15pm on the first Saturday of each month (April to September). 

The Torres Strait is an important crossover of cultures and Australia’s only area where both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island cultures intersect on their traditional countries (including the Northern Peninsula Area of Cape York). It’s been a trade route between Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and even Papua New Guinean people for thousands of years.  

With over 90% of the population identifying as Indigenous, culture is understandably a strong theme across the day. Guests will enjoy a song and dance performance by Joey Laifoo’s Island Stars , as well as an island-style feast prepared by Joey and his family – including local staples like fresh crayfish, yams, fried scones, sop sop (coconut, yam and banana stew), nummus (a pickled fish dish similar to ceviche) and sago (tapioca pudding). You’ll also have the opportunity to browse the Gab Titui Cultural Centre and Art Center on Thursday Island with great local arts and crafts available to purchase.

Green Hill Fort on Thursday Island

Green Fort Hill on Thursday Island

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3.7-inch anti aircraft gun on Horn Island

Tour guide Vanessa Seekee showing guests a 3.7-inch anti aircraft gun on Horn Island

Torres Strait Heritage Museum

Torres Strait Heritage Museum

The fascinating WWII history of the Torres Strait is also a strong undercurrent of the day. Learn more of the region’s military (and local) history when visiting key WWII sites and the Torres Strait Heritage Museum with knowledgeable guides – Vanessa and Liberty Seekee, have spearheaded much of the research efforts and restoration of many of the sites.

With its aforementioned proximity to our nearest international border, the Torres Strait (namely Horn Island) was a critical military base during the war and was the second-most bombed location in Australia (after Darwin). Approximately 500 bombs were dropped on Horn Island and sadly over 150 military personnel and 80 civilians lost their lives across the campaign.

Learn more about the Torres Strait Light Infantry Battalion

At the height of the war, over 5,000 American and Australian troops were stationed on the island. To this day the region remains the only place in Australia to have an entirely Indigenous battalion, The Torres Strait Light Infantry Battalion, consisting of over 800 Torres Strait Islander volunteers over its time. These men were integral to the efforts due to their intimate knowledge of the seas and their skill as seamen.

A Strait Day allows for a new and easy avenue to explore this untouched part of the country. While one day will never feel enough, it certainly inspires a love for the Torres Strait and a desire to return. Don’t forget, 272 more islands await.

Strait Experience supports local operators

Strait Experience work with local Torres Strait operators to deliver quality packages and experiences. What to expect on your A Strait Day tour:

  • Return flights from Cairns to Horn Island with Skytrans
  • Join the experienced team at  Torres Strait Heritage for their  In Their Steps WWII history tour on Horn Island
  • Scenic cruise between Horn and Thursday Islands with Rebel Ferries
  • Experience “Ailan Life” (Island Life) on Thursday Island with Lax Charters and Tours who will show you the island through the eyes of a born and bred local
  • Enjoy an island feast, browse local art and buy shop for unique souvenirs at Gab Titui Cultural Centre
  • Be moved by cultural performances with Joey Laifoo’s Island Stars

Discover more

Other ways to explore the Torres Strait and Indigenous cultures.

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

Ways to connect with Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander cultures

Tropical North Queensland is the only region in Australia with two distinct Indigenous cultures, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander. Connect with these ancient cultures 60,000 years in the making.

torres strait dancers on beach

5 Unmissable sights in the Torres Strait Islands

Between Cape York and Papua New Guinea, there’s a fascinating world of unforgettable adventures to be had. Journey to this culturally unique part of Australia and you’ll find vibrant Indigenous communities celebrating their strong connection to land and sea.

Cargo ship

Cargo ship your way to Cape York and the Torres Strait Islands

We’ve rounded up the top reasons why you need to get your ship together and get on the MV Trinity Bay to Cape York and the Torres Strait Islands.

Laura Aboriginal Dance Festival

8 unmissable Indigenous events in Tropical North Queensland

From Cairns to the Cape, you’ll find an annual program of Indigenous events that bring to life a culture 60,000 years in the making. Your ticket not only grants you entry, but a backstage pass to the stories and traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation.

Horn Island at the Torres Strait

More from Strait Experience

There are other ways you can experience the Torres Strait Islands with Strait Experience.

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Cairns & Great Barrier Reef Accessibility Statement

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  • June 18, 2024

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We firmly believe that the internet should be available and accessible to anyone, and are committed to providing a website that is accessible to the widest possible audience, regardless of circumstance and ability.

To fulfill this, we aim to adhere as strictly as possible to the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 (WCAG 2.1) at the AA level. These guidelines explain how to make web content accessible to people with a wide array of disabilities. Complying with those guidelines helps us ensure that the website is accessible to all people: blind people, people with motor impairments, visual impairment, cognitive disabilities, and more.

This website utilizes various technologies that are meant to make it as accessible as possible at all times. We utilize an accessibility interface that allows persons with specific disabilities to adjust the website’s UI (user interface) and design it to their personal needs.

Additionally, the website utilizes an AI-based application that runs in the background and optimizes its accessibility level constantly. This application remediates the website’s HTML, adapts Its functionality and behavior for screen-readers used by the blind users, and for keyboard functions used by individuals with motor impairments.

If you’ve found a malfunction or have ideas for improvement, we’ll be happy to hear from you. You can reach out to the website’s operators by using the following email

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  1. Top reasons to visit the Torres Strait Islands

    The military history is fascinating. The Torres Strait Islands sit between Australia and the rest of the world, so have long played a role in Australia's defence. Green Hill Fort on Thursday Island is one of the oldest military fortifications in the country, built between 1891 and 1893 to defend the colony against a potential Russian invasion.

  2. Local's Guide to the Torres Strait Islands

    The Torres Strait is scattered with pristine beaches and every island offers a different adventure. If you're up for a hike, charter a course to Goods Island and trek up the hillside to see the forts used during WWII, or take a stroll to the historic St Joseph's Catholic Church on Hammond Island. Avid anglers are spoilt for fishing spots.

  3. The Torres Strait Islands

    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 ...

  4. The Edge of Oz: 7 Must-Do Torres Strait Experiences

    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.

  5. Strait Experience

    From $8924. PP Twin Share. Book Now. View All Packages. Strait Experience is a proudly Torres Strait owned business - our trust with community, lived experience in the region and stakeholder network has enabled us to 'unlock' the regions tourism potential with an unmatched level of accessibility.

  6. How to visit Australia's Torres Strait Islands

    How to get to the Torres Strait Islands Image: Tourism and Events Queensland. Most people visit the Torres Strait Islands as part of a 4WD adventure to The Tip - the northernmost point on mainland Australia, some 2,700km north of Brisbane. Thursday Island (Waiben or 'TI') is the main administrative centre for the Torres Strait, and with multiple daily ferries to it from the mainland port ...

  7. Torres Strait Itinerary: 4 Days in Queensland's Untouched Islands

    Dive into the history and culture of the Torres Strait with Peddells Thursday Island Tour, visiting the old fort, cemetary, museums and local township. Or, join local Torres Strait Islander artists, dancers and guides at Island Stars for a celebration of traditional Ailan Kastom (island custom) through dance, song and storytelling. It's a fun ...

  8. Discovering the Remote and Exotic Charm of the Torres Strait

    About the Torres Strait Island. Embark on a journey to the Torres Strait Islands, a fascinating group of over 270 islands located in the far north of Queensland, Australia. Steeped in history, culture, and natural beauty, these islands offer a unique and unforgettable experience for travellers seeking a remote and exotic destination.

  9. Torres Strait Islands

    The Torres Strait Islands are a group of islands to the north of the Australian mainland, stretching nearly as far as Papua New Guinea. There are 14 inhabited islands, but only the two neighbouring islands of Thursday Island and Horn Island have developed visitor facilities. ... Torres Strait Tourism office, 68 Douglas Street, Thursday Island, ...

  10. Torres Strait: A Guide To The Enigmatic Islands In Australia

    The Torres Strait Islands have a tropical climate, with hot and humid summers and mild and dry winters. The average temperature ranges from 25°C to 32°C, and the average rainfall is about 2000 mm per year. The wet season is from November to April, and the dry season is from May to October. Pack light and comfortable clothing, such as shorts ...

  11. Torres Strait Islands

    The Torres Strait Islands are an archipelago of at least 274 small islands in the Torres Strait, a waterway separating far northern continental Australia's Cape York Peninsula and the island of New Guinea.They span an area of 48,000 km 2 (19,000 sq mi), but their total land area is 566 km 2 (219 sq mi).. The Islands are inhabited by the indigenous Torres Strait Islanders.

  12. When To Visit The Torres Strait

    The Torres Strait has two seasons: wet and dry. To avoid stinging jellyfish (affectionately known as stingers) and the rain, it's best to visit during the dry season, from May to September. We believe the seasons of the Torres Strait are best described using Torres Strait Islanders own Traditional Ecological Knowledge which recognise four ...

  13. Torres Strait Heritage

    website by @thestudio. Torres Strait Heritage provides a comprehensive, educational, moving and inspiring encounter that spans all facets of Torres Strait culture and history in a vast array of mediums. Torres Strait Island Tours, Tour Torres Strait Islands, Horn Island Tour, Thursday Island Tour, Vanessa Seekee, North Qu.

  14. Tourism

    Office Address: 68 Douglas Street, Thursday Island 4875. General Inquiries: (07) 4069 1336. P.O. Box 171 Thursday Island, QLD 4875. [email protected]

  15. Thursday Island Tour

    We explored the cultural, geographical and historical aspects of Thursday, Friday, Horn islands and reached "the Tip" of Australia all with a faultless program designed by Vanessa.". ~JOANNE. CALL US. 04 2790 3333. 04 2990 3333. PO Box 10, Horn Island. Torres Strait, QLD 4875.

  16. Welcome

    Torres Strait Eco Adventures recognises the Traditional Owners of the land on which we operate. We acknowledge the past and present elders of all Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal peoples in the Torres Strait and Northern Peninsula Area and respect the culture and lore of all Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal peoples in the region.

  17. Torres Strait Tours: Seamless TI Transfers & Horn Island Ferry Service

    Experience a seamless and reliable TI Ferry and Thursday Island ferry service with Torres Strait Tours. We provide convenient transfers between Thursday Island and Horn Island, including transportation to the airports. Enjoy water taxi services to explore nearby islands. Book in advance for a smooth journey and enjoy picturesque views of the Torres Strait during the four-minute crossing to ...

  18. ‎First Nations First: Small is beautiful: the Torres Strait island

    A tiny beach shack on a remote Island in the Torres Strait has become one of the world's most desired tourist destinations. After making it onto the Forbes top fifty places to visit - Badu Island has put the region on the global tourism map. Traditional Owners say the venture is helping them care for country and grow their island economy.

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    Queenstown, with a population of 53,000, is a popular tourist destination on New Zealand's South Island, famous for skiing, adventure tourism and alpine vistas.

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