A Strait Day

Cairns > Horn Island > Thursday Island > Horn Island > Cairns
1 Day | Departing First Saturday Of Each Month, April to September

Overview

Give us 1 day and we’ll give you a tour that will enrich your mind, enliven your spirit and transport you to a different world.

A landscape of stunningly beautiful blue waters, which wrap themselves around coral cays and tropical islands, linking lives and cultures, creating a truly unique destination.

The Torres Strait. Home to Torres Strait Islanders and Aboriginals, whose saltwater culture is rich in custom and art.

A STRAIT DAY – 1 DAY
THURSDAY IS & HORN IS TOUR (EX CNS)
Departs: Cairns Airport 7:30am
Returns: Cairns Airport 6:15pm

From $1,399

1 STRAIT DAY ACTIVITIES & DESTINATIONS

Natural beauty, culture and hospitality awaits
Please note the following important information: Check-in opens at 06:15 Check-in closes at 07:15 Departure time from Cairns will be 07:45. On arrival to Cairns Domestic Departure Terminal, please proceed to the Skytrans monitors above check-in where they will you will complete check-in and receive your boarding pass. A Strait Experience Crew Member will be at the Check-in to help you on arrival. Once check in is completed, Passengers will then proceed through security as normal and will depart from the allocated gate advised at check in. Please ensure plenty of time for everyone to check in as check in closes 30 minutes prior to departure and we definitely do not want anyone to miss out on this fantastic trip to The Torres Strait.

Your Strait Day starts with a spectacular scenic flight on a private charter taking approx 1.45hr (across 800km). Taking off from Cairns your compass heads north, crossing over the pristine northern reaches of the Great Barrier Reef as well as the vast wilderness area that is Queensland’s Cape York Peninsula.

Our charter flights are operated by the awesome team at Skytrans who operate our service using a spacious and comfortable twin-engine De Havilland Dash 8 100 Aircraft.

Along the way, the Strait Experience Crew will begin to explain the region, the experience along the day as well as hand out our 2022 Travellers Information Booklet. Our crew will also take the time to meet with you and answer any question you may have along the trip.

A light breakfast is served on-board as well as tea and coffee being available. A toilet is found on this flight for the comfort of our guests.

Leaving the mainland behind, our touch down point in the Torres Strait is Horn (Ngurupai) Island, which has a fusion of Melanesian, Torres Strait and Australian Aboriginal cultures. Horn Island has a rich cultural, mining and military history, which will be revealed to you on 2 hour Horn Island tour.

On arrival, our friendly team will split the travellers into 2 smaller groups to enable a more intimate and personalised group. Depending on your allocated group, you will stay on Horn island for the morning or be transported by coach then ferry to Thursday Island.

The Torres Strait was a critical Allied Forces stronghold during the war. Hundreds of local men enlisted to defend their country – in fact, at Horn Island, only 10 able-bodied men remained to protect their community and to this day, the Torres Strait Light Infantry Battalion, is the only Indigenous battalion in Australia’s military history.

On Horn Island you will be joined by the experinced team at Torres Strait Heritage and take part in their highly rated ‘In their Steps’ tour where you will walk in the steps of our WWII servicemen and women. The tour includes visiting gun emplacements, slit trenches, underground rooms and more.

Stop in at the Torres Strait Heritage Museum on Horn Island to gain further insights – here you can read diaries and historic newspapers, see maps and learn more about the area’s rich wartime history, local myths and legends and more.

Depending on your tour allocation you will also travel to Thursday Island for lunch or arrive at Thursday Island after visiting Thursday Island.

The adventure continues when you catch a local water taxi to Thursday Island. Slicing through the impossibly blue water, keep watch for fish, turtles and dugongs which thrive in this remote and frontier paradise.

One of the most memorable moments for any travel to the region is the first crossing between Horn and Thursday Islands. At only 3km between the two islands it takes little more than 10-20minutes (weather and tide depending) but this is usually the first view of the world renowned turquoise waters of the Torres Strait and the first opportunity to start to reflect on life in the region for the people which call it home. The crossing is facilitated by Rebels Ferry’s which operate a number of vessels – their service is fast, organised, safe and friendly.

Thursday (Waiben) Island is the administrative hub for the Torres Strait and home to the landmark Gab Titui Cultural Centre and Gallery, a prominent feature of the waterfront. This is a contemporary art gallery and keeping place for cultural artefacts. It’s also the space where you’ll engage with traditional Ailan Kastom (Island Custom) through art and dance, during a local feasting-style lunch buffet. A respected Torres Strait Islander dance group will showcase their vibrant culture with a 1-hour performance, in traditional ceremonial dress and adornments. Their movements are powerful and precise. Their Dhari headdress are intricate and beautiful, like nothing you’ve ever seen before. This expands your growing awareness of the rich tapestry of art, dance, rituals and performance that keeps language and traditional knowledge alive, in the Torres Strait. Meet celebrated visual artists and admire their incredibly detailed lino prints, which illustrate various aspects of island life, legends and custom. Artworks are available for sale and apart from supporting the local community and culture, these works make a striking, contemporary addition to any décor, serving as a visual reminder of your time in the Torres Strait.

What better way to get to know people than through their food… and what better place to eat amazing food than a region surrounded by some of Australia’s most wanted seafood catches and shaped by a migrant history which includes Chinese, Japanese, Malay and European cuisine for over 200 years.

Torres Strait Islander Feasting is an important cultural dynamic which represents more than the sharing of a meal between friends families and visitors but also represents the opportunity to reaffirm family bonds of kinship and celebration. Over the last 2 centuries Torres Strait Islander cuisine has become a multicultural melting pot with many dishes highlighting a strong Asian influence from the region pearling past. Feasting will include (but is subject to substitution based on availability):

  • Namas
  • Sop sop (Yam Stew)
  • Crayfish (subject to seasonal and market availability)
  • Chicken curry
  • Salads
  • Bread and Damper
  • Non-alcoholic drinks
  • Tea and Coffee

The best way to experience Thursday Island “Ailan Life” (Island Life) is through the eyes and the heart of a local. Dirk Laifoo from Lax Charters and Tours, is your person. Born and bred in the Torres Straits, this outgoing guide has unmatched local knowledge and a raft of ancient stories not heard anywhere else.

The key to understanding Dirk’s cultural knowledge is physically represented at the Gab Titui Cultural Centre, a space where artefacts dating back tens of thousands of years sit alongside modern-day Indigenous works of art. Here you will see magnificently sculptured headdresses and jewellery made from local pearls and seashells and hear stories of the Torres Strait Islanders’ connection to land and sea.

End the tour with a picture-perfect moment at the highest point on the island, Green Hill Fort. Built in the 1890s in anticipation of a Russian invasion, the Fort later became one of Australia’s military headquarters during World War II. Today intact gun emplacements and underground bunkers offer a strong reminder of a pivotal time in world history. Not into wartime history?… No worries, sit back and enjoy the stunning panoramic views.

Few people have had the honour of experiencing a sacred Torres Strait performance on the land where it has been performed for hundreds of generations.

Torres Strait Islander artist Joey Laifoo is the soul behind the Island Stars Cultural Experience. Committed to the preservation of Ailan Kastom (island custom), Joey teaches his culture through painting, dance technique and dance instruments.

Joey also operates the Island Stars Academy which mentors, supports and educated disengaged youth in his performance, providing them with a platform to proudly share their culture with others.

While the soulful rhythm of the Torres Strait traditional drum (called a ‘Warup’) beat will hypnotise the audience, it’s the dance that captures attention. End the tour on a high note and watch as male performers dance while  a mix group of singers lead the tune and storytelling.

After a big day undertaking Australia’s unique and memorable one day tour, take the opportunity to unwind as your flight return to Cairns.

Enjoy cheese, biscuits  and a beer or champagne on us and take the time to talk with your fellow travellers.

During the flight we give guests the opportunity to participate in a Q&A style discussion where you can ask any question of our experienced guides about the day, the tour and the region.

LOCATION

The Torres Strait, a tropical archipelago

The Torres Strait sits above the Australian mainland. A tropical archipelago of 274 islands. Green gems in a vast blue sea – island stepping stones – scattered between Queensland and Papua New Guinea. Home to descendants of ancient seafarers, skilled navigators who keep their culture alive and maintain their ties to land and sea.

Only 17 of the islands are inhabited and on the 1 Strait Day tour, you visit two the most populated ones – Horn and Thursday Island. This provides those travellers short on time, the ability to engage with people and culture, enrich with experiences and leave with memories of vast blue seas, tropical islands, traditional dancing and our fiercely and proudly defended northern frontier.

Inclusions and Extras

Inclusions

  • Accompanied by an experienced Torres Strait Islander Guide
  • Return flights between Cairns & Horn Island
  • All transfers, including water taxi and coaches
  • Island Tours
    • 2 Hour Horn Island Tour including Torres Strait Heritage Museum
    • 2 Hour Thursday Island Tour including Green Hill Fort and Thursday Island Cemetery
  • Cultural Activities
    • Feasting-style lunch buffet
    • Visit to Gab Titui Cultural Centre and Gallery and meet artists
    • 1 Hour Traditional Islander Dancing & Singing Performance
    • Artist Presentation & Discussion
    • Q & A with Torres Strait Islander Guide on return flight to Cairns

Optional Extras

  • Contact Strait Experience ([email protected]) direct for great deals on accommodation and flights which can be added to your journey.

SPECIFIC CONDITIONS

  • A minimum of 24 people are required for this trip to operate.
  • Bookings close 1 week prior to departure.
  • Book with safety – full refund provided if minimum numbers are not met.
  • A credit will be issued should we need to suspend the trip due to COVID-19 related travel restrictions.