Don’t miss out on your chance to experience a once in a lifetime adventure as you explore the top 5 attractions of Thursday Island.
Beyond the Cape York tip of Far North Queensland lies electric blue waters and incredible islands that make the Torres Strait. With 274 island clusters filled with intriguing history and culture, there’s no better excuse to go on an adventure if you’re looking for a once in a lifetime experience you won’t forget.
Of all 274 islands of the Torres Strait, Thursday Island is the one island you simply can’t afford to miss. Acting as the administrative centre of the Torres Strait, Thursday Island, also known as TI to the locals, works on island time with 3.5 square kilometres to explore.
Here are our top 5 must do’s while visiting Thursday Island.
1. Join in on a Peddells Thursday Island Locals Guided Tour
If you’re looking to familarise yourself with the best experience of Thursday Island, there’s no better way to start your adventure by booking yourself a Peddells Thursday Island Locals Guided Tour.
Your journey begins at the main wharf, where you’ll take a scenic drive around the island making your first stop by Green Hill Fort and museum. Originally built in the 1890s, the fort was used to guard against possible threats of Russian invasion in World War II and acted as an important strategic military headquarters to the Torres Straits. There you will find underground tunnels and rooms which now make the museum and pays homage to the military and pearling industry.
Embrace the views over the water and neighbouring islands from the top of the fort before heading back on the bus. Needless to say, the landscape is mindblowing with a scenery that you have to witness to believe. On a clear day, you can even see your way back to mainland Australia, giving you a whole new perspective on Aussie life.
From Green Hill Fort, you will head to the Japanese Pearl Divers Memorial and round up your tour driving past residential areas in the island.
2. Pay tribute to the Japanese Pearling Memorial
The Japanese Pearling Memorial is a monument commemorating the Japanese who worked, lived and died in Torres Strait and contributed to the pearling and fishing industry during 1878 and 1941. The Torres Strait pearl-shell industry contributed significantly from these Japanese divers, with Japanese divers making the largest ethnic group of the industry by 1893, dominating completely between 1900 and 1940.
An experience through the memorial gives visitors invaluable insight into the importance of pearling and shelling and the people who dedicated their lives in helping the Torres Strait thrive.
3. Explore Gab Titui Cultural Centre
For those interested in exploring Indigenous artwork and Torres Strait Islander artifacts, you won’t want to miss out on dropping by the Gab Titui Cultural Centre. It’s also a great place to bring home a souvenir, with many beautiful pieces you can purchase.
Check the calendar to see if you’re in luck to catch a cultural performance at the centre, but be sure to book in advance as the shows are in hot demand and sell out fast
4. Visit the Kazu Pearl Farm
Run by Kazu Takami for over 30 years, the Kazu Pearl farm is one of the last pearl farms in Queensland, offering tours that demonstrate the shell seeding of pearls.
It’s a hands-on experience unlike any other, beginning with a 7 course Japanese-style lunch with sashimi, sushi and tempura (all made fresh from local reef fish), offering a spectacular dining experience.
Once the meal is over, the tour moves on to the demonstration shed where Mr Kazu breaks down the entire pearl business for his guests. Natural pearls come in all shapes and sizes, often not being symmetrical and are small in size, which doesn’t fit the aesthetic demands of the market. To produce large round pearls that come with a nice price tag, the process is elaborate, often taking many years where adult pearls are selected for implantation based on the colour of the inner shell (the ones that are pure white with more shine are chosen).
Once selected, pearls are implanted with a small round bead made from the Mississippi River clam shell, whereby the bead and an inner mantle piece from a donor pearl are grafted into the reproductive organ of the recipient pearl. Once implanted, pearls are hung underwater while rotated periodically with close examination to ensure that the pearl is growing evenly around the implanted bead. Pearls are then harvested after approximately two years, of which pearl shells that produce perfectly round pearls are used repeatedly for more implantations, while those that produced undesirable results are discarded.
There’s also a gift shop where you can purchase pearl jewellery and accessories to bring home as a gift or souvenir.
5. Experience a sunset at Green Hill Fort
Grab sunset drinks and canapes at Green Hill Fort and embrace the magnificent views that make Thursday Island what it is – an island paradise.
Overlooking Horn, Hammond, Prince of Wales, Goods and Friday Islands, Green Hill Fort offers a great vantage point while being a quick 15 minute walk from town.
Make the most of your time in Thursday Island
There’s no better way to relax on your Torres Strait holiday than to book yourself in at the Grand Hotel on Thursday Island.
Nestled at the waterfront, the harbour views are phenomenal while enjoying a stay or dining experience at the Grand Hotel. Take the opportunity to discover local cuisine and pub favourites at the Malu Paru Cafe & Bistro, or quench your thirst with an ice cold drink at the Public Bar.
Beyond the classic favourites of perfectly grilled steaks, scrumptious burgers and locally caught fish and chips, the menu hosts a wide array of specials that will entice all appetites. There’s also a kids’ menu for the little ones to enjoy.
When it comes to Thursday Island accommodation, the Grand Hotel offers comfort with a view. Each room has an ensuite, air conditioning, television, a mini bar fridge and free Wi-Fi internet access throughout the hotel. Included with your room is a complimentary fully cooked and continental buffet breakfast served daily at the Malu Paru restaurant. Needless to say, a stay at the Grand Hotel in Thursday Island is a holiday where you’re well taken care of.
Make a booking by calling the Grand Hotel team at 07 4069 1557 and enjoy the best hospitality at Thursday Island.
(Credit: Photo by @australian.tours.cruises)