A brand new adventure for Buccaneers!
Torres Strait Southern Island Cruises and Cape York Peninsula
Ahoy Buccaneers is swashbucklingly excited to unveil its new offering of a 6 night tour of the Southern island group of the Torres Strait Islands and Cape York Peninsula!
Come immerse yourself in the rich culture of the region. The history is so rich with tales of the early head hunters and culture more akin to Papua New Guinea than mainland early Australians.
From the site where captain cook claimed the continent for Mother England, to embattlements still in place from World War 2 and pearling history which continues to this day. The place where aboriginal native title emanated from with the now famous Mabo claim, an incredible list of well-known achievers from a small part of our population! (latest census 7000).
Couple all the above with spectacular scenery, world class fishing and snorkeling, our experienced crew, many of whom have spent a great deal of time in the area and in conjunction with local guides and you set the scene for a very memorable journey of discovery into a part of our country that is largely unknown to the majority.
Running from late October until end of November 2018 and late February to end of March 2019, there will only a very lucky few being able to participate. From $2800 per person includes all meals and transfers. Excludes flights and accommodation on land.
Our Ahoy team has a connection to Torres Strait Islands. Our Skippers, Grant and Paul both have spent many years in the region, Grant having grown up in Papua New Guinea and Paul having cruised the myriad of islands in the Torres Strait. “Bala” (Denis Davey) was born at One Arm Point on the Dampier Peninsula, but spent his early childhood in Cairns and is a mix of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander decent. Scottie spent years caretaking at Silvergull Creek in the Buccaneer Archipelago as well as spending some 3 years cruising the Torres Strait Islands on his own yacht and Scottie left Silvergull and has joined us as crew this year. Robbie spent 5 years in Kuri Bay in the Buccaneer in the pearling industry and is itching to explore what the rest of the crew have experienced. Bryan our chef is spending his off season this Christmas 2017/2018 at Timor Islands getting a taste of remote Island life in the off season as a dive Instructor. No doubt he will be sharing his stories on his return for the start of 2018 cruising season.
Between Cape York and Papua New Guinea, there’s a fascinating world of unforgettable adventures to be had. Although the Torres Strait is neighbour to the far reaches of the world-famous Great Barrier Reef, its islands remain off the beaten track, adding to their immense charm. Five clusters of emerald isles crown Australia’s most northerly point, some 274 Islands. The Torres Strait archipelago’s islands are scattered across the 150km stretch of ocean separating Cape York Peninsula from Papua New Guinea.
Virtually untouched, the Torres Strait islands and surrounding Great Barrier Reef are home to some of the world’s most stunning blue waters as well as an abundance of marine life including dugongs, dolphins, giant marlin and sea turtles. Torres Strait Reefs provide great opportunities for fishing, swimming, snorkelling and marvelling at the abundant and diverse marine life.
Each day will be an adventure, just like our Kimberley Cruises, a passage plan will be completed by our Captain just prior to the cruise, however each days activities will be dependent on weather, wind and tides. Cruises commence at Horn Island and return to Horn Island 6 nights Monday to Sunday morning. Cruise prices exclude flights to Horne Island. Daily flights are with Qantas Airlines from Cairns and you would need to book to arrive a day prior to your cruise date (Sunday) and depart the day after your cruise ends (Monday) as we do not guarantee same day flights. Qantas flies twice daily into Horn Island.
At the very tip of Cape York where the South Pacific Ocean and the Arafura Sea mix their currents are the islands of the Torres Strait, including Thursday and Horn Islands. The population of Torres Strait is approximately 7000 people, scattered amongst 18 islands, though the largest concentration of people is Thursday Island with 3500 and then Badu Island with 1500 people. The islands are governed by the Torres Strait Regional Authority.
Thursday Island (or TI as it’s known to locals), which covers an area of just over 3 square kms is the administrative centre of the Torres Strait with modern accommodation, tours and the award-winning Gab Titui Cultural Centre which takes visitors on a journey from the past to the present and into the future showing Torres Strait Islander culture through artefacts, artwork, song, dance and stories.
The island has had a varied history and a local guide will take you on a tour of all the sites starting at Green Hill Fort which was built in 1893 due to fear of Russian invasion. In that same year the merchant ship, the Quetta, struck uncharted reef just off Thursday Island which ripped a hole from the bow to the engine room leading to the death of 134 of the people on board. In commemoration of this horrible event the All Souls Quetta Memorial Church was also built in 1890. Next, you can visit the Japanese Pearl Memorial which is dedicated to the hundreds of pearl divers who risked their lives in pursuit of these rarities. The town still is a pearling centre, but the locals now stick to culture farms which is much less dangerous. While you walk through town you can also admire the colonial architecture which is left over from World War II. Another must while your on the island is to eat one of many varieties of rock lobster pies from the local baker Bernie’s Kai Kai Bar which are made from crayfish caught in the Torres Strait. The Torres Strait Tropical Rock Lobster Fishery is the most valuable commercial fishery in the Torres Strait and provides significant financial independence for the traditional inhabitants of the region.
Horn Island is located is next to Thursday Island. Visitors to Horn Island will have an amazing experience which will include a look into a rich and varied history and insight into the island’s mix of Melanesian and Australian Aboriginal cultures. In the 1890s the island was used to mine Gold and then by the start of the 20th century it became a flourishing centre for the pearling industry, the industry waned at the start of World War II when many of the island’s residents were evacuated and is now on the up and up. During World War II an allied airbase was built called the Horn Island Aerodrome.
As the airbase was a major one it came under fire from Japanese air raids a total of 8 times which caused much destruction to the island. Don’t miss taking a look at the historic WWII sites that remain on the island today and to learn more about the island’s history and its special culture. A local from the Torres Strait Museum will take you on an “In Their Steps” walking tour as well as visit the museum and the art gallery which are located in the tiny town of Wasaga. Your guides are Liberty and Vanessa, locals and experts in their fields of Torres Strait history, who provide an entertaining and enlightening commentary. This commentary is a mixture of both archival information, and personal stories told to Vanessa and Liberty. Visit gun emplacements, an underground command post, slit trenches, a WW2 aircraft wreck with an unbelievable story, WW2 airstrip, dispersal bays and taxiways. Walk in the steps of the indigenous and non indigenous soldiers who served in the area, and listen to the eerie sound affects the airstrip today provides. These exhibits range from the pearling industry, myths and legends of Torres Strait, artwork, artefacts, culture pearling today to the World War Two history of the area. The World War Two displays include archival and personal photos from Japan, America and Australia, with diaries, maps, sketches, and personal artefacts. Each unit and squadron, including the nurses, and are detailed with histories, photos and personal recollections. This tour includes a Chinese buffet lunch.
We will spend time on both Thursday Island and Horn Island, walking tours on both as well as a drive tour on Thursday Island. After the tours each day guests will have a some free time to explore further at their leisure. For those wanting more adventure you can jump aboard a helicopter for an aerial view of the Torres Strait Islands. Heli Tours North Queensland offers half-hour tours or hour flights from Horn Island, Torres Strait flight tour will take you over Prince of Wales Island and the spectacular waterfalls. WWII bunkers, shipwrecks and a gun stations are a highlight of this trip. Circle over Green Hill Fort and Thursday Island before Landing on Horn Island. Or Tip of Cape York is another optional heli flight tour which takes you over the Torres Strait to the very tip of Australia – Cape York. You will land and you will be able to literally stand on the tip of Australia. A scenic flight over Punsand Bay and the Iconic Possession Island are the highlights before landing at Horn Island. This flight is also 30 minutes and the walk up to the tip of Cape York is 1.5 hours. Or you can combine the two flights (without the landing at the tip of Australia).
Through the headset, you can listen to the pilot’s stories about the area’s major landmarks and points of interests in Torres Strait and The Great Barrier Reef.The heli flights duration are for 30 minutes and the cost is $499 per person, although allow 2 hours as the walk to the tip is 1.5 hours. The combined flights are for an hours duration and the cost is $499 per person. These flights are not included in your cruise price and the only way to see Cape York Peninsula.
On the other side of Thursday Island is Friday Island. ‘Kazu Pearls’ welcome you ashore to enjoy the tranquil ambience of the island. Friday Island is very different to the other islands you will visit with only one family living on the island. It has a special remoteness and feels a world away from Thursday Island next door. During your tour you can visit the shop with island grown cultured pearl and pearl shell jewellery and mementos of the very special visit available for purchase or just to admire. Only ten people call Friday Island home, and one of them is Kazu Takami, who runs Kazu Pearls, a pearl cultivation farm. Mr Takami has lived on the island for more than 30 years, and says his cultured pearl farming keeps him busy. We will have lunch at the Pearl farm as Mr Tamami is famous for putting on a great Japanese spread including some pearl meat.Pearl meat currently fetches $200 a kilo! Friday Island has a stunning big beach, a great place to swim and great spot for sunset drinks and have a barbecue on the beach.
Prince of Wales is the largest island in the Torres Strait – Prince of Wales next to Thursday and Friday Islands. In its past life, the island was used as a cattle station and years later it now has a surviving population of wild cattle, goat and rusa deer. Your local guide from the Kaurakeg Aboriginal Traditional owners of this area will take you to the waterhole, know as “Dugong Story” located in the Southern Ranges. You guide will conduct a walking tour sharing with us the mystery and legend surrounding this “bottomless” waterhole why it is known as the “Dugong Story”. There are two pools to swim in on the island one down at the bottom of the falls and another up the top, it’s a great place to escape the heat and cool off at one of its many waterfalls. These falls can only be swum in the wet after some heavy rains has fallen, as these swimming holes remain stagnant during the drier months. An Island Bush Tucker Tour will be another highlight on the Prince of Wales Island. Hear the tale of the ship wrecked Scot who survived life with the Kaurakeg people, although unused to contact with outsiders, the tribe took her in, treating her as one of their own, its own tale similar to the Robinson Crusoe story when HMAS rattlesnake rescued her.
A visit to the Torres Strait wouldn’t be complete without enjoying a beer in Australia’s northern-most pub; The Torres Hotel. With an active nightlife and regular community events, this little pub is a favourite watering hole amongst locals. This is the best spot to have a yarn (chat) with its friendly patrons to hear stories about the Torres Strait and its rich history.
Overlooking the waterfront and hugging the esplanade is the popular Federal Hotel (known to the locals as Fedz). While it looks like a regular ol’ pub from the outside, the large tinted windows offer spectacular views of the harbour. Inside you’ll find the famous Joe’s Bar mural which has been maintained since the pub first opened. PS. It’s also the only pub in town with air-conditioning so you’ll definitely end up here on hot days.
The Torres Strait Islands is scattered with pristine beaches and every island offers a different adventure. If you’re up for a hike, we can chart a course to Goods Island (next to Friday Island) and trek up the hillside to the see the forts used during WWII and the lighthouse, there also a ship wreck on the beach that becomes partly exposed as the tide falls and several reefs to snorkle and explore or take a leisurely stroll to the historic St Joseph’s Catholic Church on Hammond Island (next to Goods and Thursday Island). If you’re an avid angler, you’ll be spoilt with fishing spots. We can cast behind the rip tides of Bluefish Point on Prince of Wales Island, or troll the reef’s edge of the neighbouring islands. And while you troll along, you’ll see the Torres Strait’s active marine life, from turtles to jumping rays and even dolphins. There are 3 stunning reefs for us to explore beyond Hammond Island called Torres Reefs, known as Reef 1, 2,& 3. Typical fish that can be caught is Giant Trevally, Coral Trout, Finger Mark and Mackerel. Of course, this area is famous for its abundant tropical rock lobster which we will make for delicious meal onboard. For those keen you can snorkel and swim in these reefs.
Torres Strait Cruise Pricing (7 days)
|2018||Double Cabin Ensuite*||$4,500|
|Twin Share Cabin||$3,500|
|Swag Under the Stars||$2,800|
|2019||Double Cabin Ensuite*||$4,500|
|Twin Share Cabin||$3.500|
|Swag Under the Stars||$2,800|
*Optional third person at the normal rate
*A 50% deposit will secure your booking, balance payable 60 days prior to your cruise date
All prices per person