One of the most historical and scenic views of the Torres Straits, don’t miss out on this list if things to do in Thursday Island!
A destination rich in Indigenous culture, history and filled with natural beauty, Thursday Island is a wonder that must be witnessed for a spectacular view of Queensland unlike any other.
Referred to as Waibene or TI to the locals, Thursday Island is the administrative centre of the Torres Straits and forms part of the 274 islands between the tip of Cape York to Papua New Guinea.
Everything here runs on island time, and although time may appear to stand still here, there’s plenty of things to do that you simply won’t want to miss out on.
Here’s a local’s guide to Thursday Island including activities and places you won’t want to miss.
Groove with the locals at the Grand Hotel on Thursday Island
There aren’t many better places to hang out on Thursday Island than the much beloved local hotspot at the Grand Hotel.
The harbour views are amazing, with the established nestled on the waterfront. Whether it’s dining, enjoying one of the weekly events happening at the Grand Hotel such as Musical Bingo every Friday night from 7pm, or enjoying a stay, an experience at the Grand Hotel TI is an experience not to be forgotten.
Explore the local cuisine and pub favourites at the Malu Paru Cafe & Bistro after quenching your thirst with a cold one at the Public Bar. Grilled steaks, mouthwatering burgers and locally caught fish are on the menu alongside a good range of specials and appetisers that will entice.
For those looking for a place to call home when in Thursday Island, you’ll be glad to consider the Grand Hotel as an option. With comfort and a view followed by an ensuite, air conditioning, a television and a mini bar fridge, you’ll have all of your needs covered. There’s also free WiFi internet throughout the hotel and a complimentary buffet breakfast served daily at the Malu Palu restaurant.
Reserve a table to dine or book your stay by calling the Grand Hotel team at 0740691557 to enjoy the best of Thursday Island hospitality.
Experience a local guided tour of Thursday Island
If you want to know the island better, go on a Peddells Thursday Island locals guided tour. The tour starts at the main wharf where you’ll be taken on a scenic drive around the island stopping at Green Hill Fort and museum which was originally built in the 1890s and used to guard against potential threats of Russian invasion during World War II, acting as the strategic military headquarters of the Torres Straits. From underground tunnels and rooms that have now become a museum, you’ll find many artifacts and historic moments that will leave you amazed.
The views at the top of the fort are amazing, giving you panoramic scenes of the neighbouring islands over the water. You’ll even be able to see Australia’s mainland on a clear day.
Next, you’ll head to the Japanese Pearl Divers Memorial, which is detailed further below, and then complete your tour driving past residential areas of the island.
Visit the Japanese Pearling Memorial
Also known as the Japanese Pearl Divers Memorial, the Japanese Pearling Memorial acts as a remembrance for Japanese divers who became a major part of Thursday Island culture, forming the largest ethnic group of the industry by 1893 all the way to 1940.
The memorial exemplifies the importance of shelling and pearling to the islands, giving you an insight into the people who dedicated their lives in helping the industry and the Torres Straits community thrive.
Visit the Kazu Pearl Farm
One of the last operational pearl farms in Queensland, the Kazu Pearl Farm has been run by Kazu Takami for over 30 years. It offers tours that include educational demonstrations of pearl shell seeding.
Your journey begins with a 7 course Japanese lunch filled with sashimi, tempura, and sushi. Once your bellies have been filled, the tour continues on to demonstration where Mr Kazu breaks down the entire process. This is where you’ll learn why natural pearls don’t cut it in the market, and how the pearl industry helps facilitate the creation of pearls for sale.
There is a gift shop at Kazu Pearl Farm where you can purchase pearl jewellery and accessories from the source for that special someone, as a gift or a souvenir for yourself.
Discover the Gab Titui Cultural Centre
If you appreciate indigenous art and culture, a visit to the Gab Titui Cultural Centre is a must. Displaying the finest artwork and Torres Strait Islander artifacts, this cultural centre is the perfect place to learn about history and culture of the indigenous communities here and even bring home a gift and souvenir. There are some masterpieces available for sale if any of them at the gallery catch your eye.
When planning your visit, be sure to check the calendar to find out if you’re in luck to catch a cultural performance at the centre. Shows and events are in high demand so be sure to book in advance to avoid disappointment.
A sunset at Green Hill Fort
Awe at the magnificent view as the sun sets over Green Hill Fort and embrace the landscape of Thursday Island.
Overlook Horn, Hammond, Goods and Friday, and the Prince of Wales Islands, with the best vantage viewpoint while only being a short 15 minute walk from town.