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Weekend Away – the Tiwi Islands

Many Territorians have had the Tiwi Islands on their bucket-list of local experiences, but never got around to booking their trip. Well, no more excuses. Here’s a Tiwi travel guide to help you explore and uncover the beauty of your own backyard.

Known as the ‘Islands of Smiles’, the Tiwi Islands are located 80km north of Darwin – home to Aboriginal culture and history, vibrant art centres and the ever-growing annual Tiwi Islands Football Grand Final & Art Sale. The Islands are made up of Bathurst and Melville Islands and hold some of Australia’s most unique travel experiences – right on the doorstep for many Territorians. 

How to get there.

There are two options to get to the Tiwis – either by sea or by air, both easily accessible from Darwin. The SeaLink ferry operates three times per week between Darwin and Wurrumiyanga – the main township on Bathurst Island – and takes around 2.5 hours one way. Alternatively, you can jump on a small charter flight from Darwin Airport that takes only 30 minutes.

Local Experiences

Overnight stay – Tiwi Island Retreat
Located on the south-west coast of Bathurst Island, Tiwi Island Retreat offers a touch of luxury with ultimate adventure. Whether you want to simply relax by the 12m pool with a cold beverage in hand, jump in a heli to head to an exclusive swimming spot or throw in a line for some incredible fishing encounters. The all-inclusive accommodation offers something for every traveller.

Arts and culture – Tiwi Design and Ngaruwanajirri
Exploring the thriving arts scene is a must when visiting the Tiwi Islands. Discover the stories behind the painting, weaving, carving and sculpting of the Tiwi people and gain an insight into island life. Tiwi Design in Wurrumiyanga is one of    the oldest centres on the island, boasting diverse art pieces and earthy fabrics that you can purchase to remember your visit. Ngaruwanajirri, which means ‘helping one another’ in Tiwi, was originally set up for disabled Tiwi residents. Now, the arts centre includes a range of artists, with works including wood carvings, paintings and lino prints. There are a number of other art centres on the island, each with their own unique stories and local artists who work there.

Tour with a local

Tiwi Tours Learn more about the history, culture and daily lives of the Tiwi people with a local guide from Tiwi Tours. Discover more about the community as well as uncovering the historic stories of Bathurst Island. Experience a traditional welcome ceremony and morning tea before taking part in a cultural art session and visiting Tiwi Museum.

Before you go

Make sure to book your return flight or ferry to the Tiwi Islands in advance as availability can be limited. Also, keep in mind that the Tiwis are privately owned Aboriginal land and you’ll need to apply for a permit if you want to travel outside of the main township of Wurrumiyanga. Get in contact with the Tiwi Islands Land Council or your tour operator for more information.

Find out More:

Start planning your Tiwi Islands trip, head to northernterritory.com

Images: Toursim NT/ Elise Cook, Cait Miers, Shaana McNaught.

 

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