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Thursday Island

Distance Travelled: 180 NM
Steaming Time: 16 Hours

Thursday Island, colloquially known as TI, or in the native language, Waiben, is an island of the Torres Strait Islands archipelago located approximately 39 km north of Cape York Peninsula. It has an area of approx 3.5 square km. The Muralag peoples are the traditional owners of the land and seas surrounding Thursday Island. The highest point on Thursday Island, standing at 104 m above sea level, is Milman Hill, a World War II defence facility.

The island has been populated for thousands of years by the Torres Strait Islanders, though archeological evidence on Badu, further north in Torres Strait, suggests that the area has been inhabited from before the end of the last Ice Age. A lucrative pearling industry was founded on the island in 1885, attracting workers from around Asia, including Japan, Malaya and India, seeking their fortune. While the pearling industry has declined in importance, the mix of cultures is evident to this day. The pearling industry centred on the harvesting of pearl shell, which was used mainly to make shirt buttons before the industry was changed with the invention of plastic. During World War II, Thursday Island became the military headquarters for the Torres Strait and was a base for Australian and United States forces. January 1942 saw the evacuation of civilians from the island. Residents of Japanese origin or descent were interned.

The residents did not return until after the end of the war and many ethnic Japanese were forcibly repatriated. The island was spared from bombing in World War II, due, it was thought, to its being the burial place of many Japanese pearl shell divers, or possibly the Japanese thinking there were still Japanese residents on the island. However, neighbouring Horn Island was extensively bombed. There was an airbase there, used by the Allies to attack parts of New Guinea... The Coral Adventurer will spend the day on the island with guests able to explore its rich history and cultural influence. There are beautiful foreshore walks and an excellent cultural arts centre, Gab Tutui. Optional tours of the WW2 history and relics on Horn Island will be a part of our expedition.

Traditional owners: The Muralag peoples

Image Credit: Jimmy Trifyllis/Australian Geographic

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Australia’s Pioneering Cruise Line
For over 30 years Coral Expeditions has had one purpose – taking small groups of like-minded explorers to the most remote parts of the world, with expert guidance and warm Australian hospitality. Coral Expeditions was founded by a fisherman with a passion for the sea. Then named Coral Princess Cruises, the small North Queensland based company explored the Great Barrier Reef and pioneered small ship expedition cruising to the Kimberley and Papua New Guinea. Today, Coral Expeditions has grown to include voyages to Tasmania, Islands of the South Pacific, New Zealand, and the Indonesian Archipelago. Our Australian crew provide warm hospitality and personal service on board. Shore-rich itineraries in remote locations allow our guests to be immersed in local cultures, get close to wildlife, and enjoy adventurous land and sea activities in safety. We invite you to celebrate 35 years of exploration with us.

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