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Tiwi Islands

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The Tiwi Islands [3] are a small archipelago in Australia's Northern Territory, 100 km north of Darwin.


Indigenous Culture in Tiwi Island

The Tiwi Islands are composed of Melville Island and Bathurst Island, with a combined area of 8,320 They have a combined population of just over 2000 people, over 90% of whom are Aboriginal. The largest settlement, Nguiu (pron. "new-you") on Bathurst, has a population of 1,500.

The Catholic mission established on the Tiwi Islands in 1911 greatly influenced the culture of the Tiwi Islanders. The Islanders also played a role in World War II, capturing Japanese pilots who were shot down during bombing raids on Darwin. Many Tiwi Islanders are prolific artists who produce distinctive art, pottery, sculptures and wooden carvings.

Get in[edit]

The main community of Wurrumiyanga is the only aboriginal community where you do not require a permit for entry. If you leave this township then you will need to obtain a permit from the Tiwi Islands Land Council [4].

  • Tiwi by Design, 1300 130 679, [1]. Day tours run by SeaLink NT every Thursday and Friday from April - December and selected Mondays in peak season.  edit
  • Tiwi Island Tour, 1300 721 365, [2]. One-day tours from $465, including meals, return flights, tour guide and permits.  edit

There are two ways to reach the Tiwi's from Darwin: a 2.5 hour ferry journey with SeaLink NT [5] three to four times a week or 20-minute flights on Fly Tiwi [6] (several times daily, from $120/one-way).

Get around[edit]

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The biggest event of the year on the famously football-crazy (Australian rules, of course) islands is the Tiwi Islands Football League Grand Final in late March, which draws crowds above 3000 — more than the islands' combined population! While permits were previously not required to visit at this time, this is apparently no longer the case, and in any case you'll need to plan well in advance to secure your seats. The Tiwi Islands Art Sale is held at the same time.

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Get out[edit]

The only way out is back to Darwin.

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