Discover the distinct Torres Strait culture of this remote island and its people, who follow a traditional lifestyle. Enjoy the spectacular scenery and expansive views over the Torres Strait. Visit the historic fortress, the Pearl Divers monument and see historic buildings. Or journey across the strait to Cape York and its wilderness. Select some local souvenirs. Enjoy fresh seafood and other dishes in delightful waterfront settings.
- Airlie Beach
- Kingfisher Bay (Fraser Island)
- Norfolk Island
- Penneshaw (Kangaroo Island)
- Perth (Fremantle)
- Phillip Island
- Thursday Island
- Whitsunday Island
Most Active or Strenuous
Minimal Activity Required
Gain a broad understanding of Thursday Island’s culture and history by watching a traditional performance by costumed dancers at the cultural center downtown.
After departing from the pier on foot, you will walk to the nearby cultural center for an introduction to Thursday Island. The aboriginal Kaurareg people lived on the island for thousands of years and are considered the traditional owners, although they don’t have legal ownership.
The Kauraeg called the island Waibene, but it was renamed Thursday Island in the mid-1800s when the British government set up an outpost here to guard its trade route between the Pacific and Indian Oceans.
During the welcoming introduction to the island, you may also learn about gold being discovered here and Thursday Island’s importance during World War II. Most of the islanders were evacuated to mainland Australia during the war, including the Japanese residents that were notoriously rounded up and interned in government camps.
To enhance your understanding of the island culture, you will be treated to an entertaining dance performance by Torres Strait islanders. Their colorful costumes may feature feathered headdresses with shark motifs, grass skirts and shell necklaces.
Following the performance, you will walk downtown where you may spend free time shopping along the main street.
Please note: This tour includes some walking on sand and uneven surfaces. Guests with mobility concerns are cautioned to carefully evaluate their personal level of stamina and ability. Weather appropriate clothing; an umbrella; and flat, comfortable walking shoes are suggested.
Soar high above the island-dotted sea in a helicopter and fly east toward Cape York, the wild and remote tip of continental Australia.
After departing from the pier, you will soon arrive at the helipad and board a helicopter for an unforgettable ride over Thursday Island and the sea beyond. As the helicopter’s blades begin to whirl, the excitement will build, a feeling that will only increase with take-off.
The flight will take you high above neighboring Horn Island, where you may notice the horn-shaped hill that gave the island its name. To the east lies Punsand Bay, islets such as Murangi and Cape York, the northernmost point of the Australian continent.
Famed British captain James Cook named the cape in 1770 for the Duke of York, the brother of King George III. As you will see from your window seat in the helicopter, the cape has remained a rugged, largely undeveloped area rimmed with beautiful beaches.
As the helicopter flies along the coast, you may see coral reefs below the water’s surface, fishing boats just offshore and the occasional adventurer, as many areas can only be reached in a 4-wheel-drive vehicle. That is the beauty of the Cape York peninsula; it is wild, remote and extraordinarily pristine.
Wildlife thrives here, especially birds such as the blue-winged kookaburra and Victoria’s riflebird. The latter is named for its hiss, which sounds like a bullet passing through the air.
Please note: This tour is not recommended for guests who utilize a wheelchair. Those guests with mobility concerns are cautioned to evaluate their personal level of ability and stamina. Casual, weather-appropriate clothing and comfortable, flat walking shoes are suggested.
Take the ferry to nearby Horn Island to explore its restored World War II air base, which the Japanese heavily attacked because of its strategic location.
After departing from the pier on a ferry, you will soon arrive at neighboring Horn Island, which an explorer named in 1803 for the horn shape of one of its hills. Although gold was discovered toward the end of that century, Horn Island remained fairly uninhabited and insignificant until the Japanese declared war on Australia in 1941.
Civilians were evacuated and Allied forces soon built an air base with two airstrips, bomb shelters and ammunition storehouses. As you will discover while touring restored sites such as an underground command post and slit trenches, more than 5,000 soldiers were stationed on the island and withstood eight attacks by Japanese planes.
Hundreds of those soldiers were indigenous people that fought as the Torres Strait Light Infantry Battalion. During the war, Horn Island earned the distinction of being the only place in Australia where indigenous and non-indigenous soldiers served together.
You will see a collection of artifacts from the war in the Torres Strait Heritage Museum. Personal diaries, historical photographs and detailed maps are all displayed, providing you with a clear understanding of the importance of Horn Island during World War II.
Please note: This tour includes approximately 2.5 hours of walking/standing on uneven surfaces, dirt and on sand. There are approximately 30 steps. The tour is not available to wheelchair guests and may not be suitable for those with mobility concerns who are cautioned to carefully evaluate their personal level of stamina and ability. Casual, weather-appropriate clothing and comfortable, flat walking shoes are suggested.
Enjoy an enlightening look at Thursday Island, stopping at historical Green Hill Fort and at a cemetery with hundreds of graves of Japanese divers that died pearling in Torres Strait.
After departing from the pier, you will begin a leisurely drive around Thursday Island or TI as residents affectionately called it. On the ascent up Green Hill, the beauty of the island-dotted Torres Strait will unfold and the defensive advantage of the hill will become evident.
At the top of the hill you will find a small fort built in the late 1890s to defend the island and shipping lanes against a possible Russian attack. Peace prevailed and the fort was decommissioned within a few decades. Most of the guns, bunkers and underground rooms that you will see are from World War II, when Green Hill Fort was reactivated as a signals and wireless station. You will discover more about the site, its military value and eventual use as a weather station while reading the detailed signage around the fort.
Continuing on, you will soon arrive at the Thursday Island Cemetery, where hundreds of Japanese pearl divers are buried. The pearling industry thrived on the island from the late 1890s until the early 1940s, but the work was extremely treacherous and many divers died from decompression sickness, more commonly known as the bends. The pearling industry collapsed shortly after World War II when plastic replaced pearl shells as buttons.
Please note: This tour is not recommended for guests who utilize a wheelchair. There are some uneven steps at the museum and the fort. Those guests with mobility concerns are cautioned to evaluate their personal level of ability and stamina. Casual, weather-appropriate clothing and comfortable, flat walking shoes are suggested.