Thursday Island

Thursday Island is an interesting place.

A lot smaller than most other islands in the Torres Strait, it is the administrative centre of the whole area.

Its only township covers almost all of the island, so practically the island is the town (by the same name).

With a population of 2,500 it is by far the largest one in the area - there is
no other town of its size between Weipa and Papua New Guinea.

All that also means it has a long history, and the kind of history it has been, has lead to a big mixture of many cultures.

You may feel that there could be more things to see, but that's not what this island is all about.

The thing I really like about this island is its pace and its vibe, and the longer you stay the more you have taken it in and realise what a great place it is.  

thursday island

Originally in the Kaurareg country, TI has been inhabited for a long time. But its history is much the same as the surrounding islands' until the pearling industry. 

Thanks to its sheltered location, the population grew, and the administration of the Torres Strait was finally moved here from Somerset.

torres strait islanders

Originally it was a cruel head-hunting Kaurareg culture, but that changed. 

The hugely successful pearling industry attracted people, so apart from Torres Strait Islanders today there also is a mixture of Aboriginals, Papuans, Japanese, Chinese, Malays, Filippinos, Indians and many other nationalities.

Things to See on Thursday Island

gab titui cultural centre

Gab Titui Cultural Centre
The Torres Strait Islanders cultural centre is a relatively new building that houses Islander art from all across the Torres Strait.
There is art from a lot of different islands, and some of it is up for sale.
Every now and again there are also song and dance performances

quetta memorial church

Quetta Memorial Church
There are many churches on Thursday Island, but this one was built in memory of the disaster in 1890 when the 380-foot mail ship Quetta sank near Albany Island, after it struck a large rock not previously seen. 133 people were killed, the story is inside the church.

thursday island fort

Green Hill Fort and Museum
Green Hill is a beautiful hill with some great views over the rest of the island, and the blue waters that surround it.
Up the hill is a big fort with canons, built in fear of a Russian invasion in the late 1800s.
It is well preserved, and under the steps there is a museum with local and military history displays.

thursday island cemetery

Thursday Island Cemetery
Thursday Island Cemetery is on a nice hill and great for a brief look and a stroll, but even better if you have a closer look.
The oldest section is the Japanese pearlers', and then there are the Anglican, Roman Catholics', Indonesian, Malaysian and others.

Practical Information

thursday island hotels

Shops and Hotels
Along the main street, Douglas Street, there are some pearl and souvenir shops, takeaway shops, and there is the
Torres Strait Hotel - how would you not have a beer in the northernmost pub in Australia!
The other beauty is the Grand Hotel, up the hill right opposite the jetty, more upmarket but beautiful.

torres strait cultural festival

Torres Strait Cultural Festival
If you happen to be around in late September, every second year there is the Torres Strait Cultural Festival at the Ken Brown Oval in the south western end of the town.

It lasts three days and is one of the greatest events on and around the Cape York peninsula if you like indigenous dancing.

thursday island weather

Thursday Island Weather
Unfortunately I lost my stormy weather photos - the skies of TI are not always perfect!

But late in the Dry season they often are, completely cloudless, making the already blue waters looking even more magnificent. Check out Thursday Island weather forecast that is current day by day (page coming soon).

Thursday Island Walks to Other Places

Higher up the page were the typical touristic things to see on a day trip, but if you stay a bit longer, you can see more.

Below is a round the island walk that goes clock-wise around TI.

   thursday island anzac park

Starting from the Engineer's Jetty and Victoria Parade, you walk past the Anzac Park.
   thursday island anzac monument

After that you come to the churches on Douglas Street - Quetta, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, and a few others.
   thursday island our lady of the sacred heart

To the western end of Douglas Street and past the hospital, you turn onto Aubrey Parade and walk past the park on Bach Beach.
   thursday island bach beach

You walk past a mangrove area where flying foxes roost,
   thursday island mangroves

... on your way to Tamwoy.

thursday island tamwoy thursday island tamwoy

In the southern end of Tamwoy you can take a side track to Green Hill - not the way the tourists get there!
   thursday island australia

And the views are beautiful, over the surrounding waters and islands.
   thursday island green hill

Another side track is the so-called Slaughter Beach -
   thursday island slaughter beach

... that takes you to the old Quarantine Wharf,
   thursday island quarantine wharf

... and the Cook Esplanade.
   thursday island cook esplanade

From there, along the Aplin Road, you come to the Thursday Island Cemetery.
   thursday island cemetery

It's famous for its graves of large amount of different nationalities, including the section of the old Japanese pearl divers' graves.
   thursday island cemetery japanese

There is also the grave of Bernard Namok, the designer of the Torres Strait Islander flag.

   torres strait islander flag bernard namok

Continuing east along the coast you first come to the suburb of Rosehill,
   thursday island rosehill

... and then walk along the beach to Waiben, with the views of Hammond Island.
   thursday island waiben

In the eastern end of Waiben there is an unsealed track to Sadies Beach and Lions Lookout.
   thursday island lions lookout sadies beach

You could not drive through, but you can walk through all the way back to the town, completing the circle around the island.
   thursday island lions lookout track

Up the hill is Lions Lookout with views over Horn Island from a WWII bunker,
   thursday island lions lookout

... and down the hill is Sadies Beach.
   thursday island sadies beach

Walking through takes you to the eastern end of the town,
   thursday island navy wharf

... near Navy Wharf and Bayo Beach,
   thursday island bayo beach

... and the track to 'Milman Hill Lookout'.
   thursday island milman hill lookout

With its two windmills always seen from most of TI and some neighbouring islands, Milman Hill is two times higher than Green Hill. 
   thursday island milman hill

While Green Hill has a fort built in the late 1800s, Milman Hill has a WWII defence facility.
   thursday island milman hill sunset

There is no lookout point but you can always look for a spot to enjoy the beautiful sunset of TI.

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