Photos of The Central Torres Strait Islands, Australia

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The Central Torres Strait Islands

The Central group of Torres Strait Islands consists of Masig (Yorke Island), Poruma (Coconut Island), Warraber (Sue Island) and Iama (Yam Island), plus many small uninhabited cays and reefs, between 85 and 160 kilometres north east of Thursday Island. The traditional language of these islands is local dialects of Kalaw Lagaw Ya.

Giaka (Dungeness) Island
Welcome to Masig
Yorke Island kids
The south coast
Council office
Yorke Island street
Yam Island street
Iama bay
Near Iama School
Lunch at school
Coconut Island street
Near Poruma shop
Past school and church
Ibis Store
House on Warraber
Warraber street
Warraber preschool
Sue Island Cemetery
Street on Warraber
A new gas bottle
Warraber kids
Yam Island from the air
Yorke Island beach
Anglican church
Church interior
Masig roundabout
Beach and canoe
Village centre, Poruma
Near the Council
Kadal islet
Poruma, Coconut Island
Coconut Island
Warraber from the air
Torres Strait Islands
Torres Strait Islands
Beach at Yam Island

Yorke Island, traditionally known as Masig, is a coral cay, about 2.7 kilometres long and 800 metres at its widest point in the east-central Torres Strait, about 160 kilometres north east of Thursday Island. Its people have always been trading all over the Torres Strait, having great skills as navigators. In the 1870s teachers from the London Missionary Society arrived, finding a community of migrants on the island, involved with the pearl and trochus shell industry. The Queensland Government moved the people of Aureed (or Skull Island), the 15 kilometres north east to Masig, after they had declared their homeland a government reserve. The Masig people continued pearl fishing until the 1960 when they switched to commercial fishing for mackerel, prawns and crayfish. Since the late 1970s a highly profitable fish factory has been operating on the island. The catch is frozen and sent to southern markets.

Coconut Island, also known as Poruma, is a narrow coral island bounded by shallow fringing coral reefs, situated about 53 kilometres south west of Masig and 120 kilometres north east of Thursday Island, with a population of around 180. Tidal encroachment in the 1930s resulted in the emigration of many of the islanders to other islands. Crayfishing is an important industry here and there is a small tourist resort on the island, the Poruma Island Resort.

Warraber, formerly called Sue Island, lies about 35 kilometres south west of Poruma and 85 kilometres north-east of Thursday Island. It is a tiny circular coral island bounded by an extensive fringe reef. Like the others, the island is accessible by boat, plane and a regular barge service which visits the island with cargo and fresh commodities.

Yam Island is also called Iama or Turtle-backed Island. It is about 20 kilometres north of Warraber and 100 kilometres north east of Thursday Island. Its people were known as fierce warriors and traders; Captain William Bligh in 1792 encountered them when they sought to obtain iron from his ship and later attacked him; he called nearby Tudu Island (about 20 kilometres north east of Iama) "Warrior Island" as a result. In the late 19th century missionaries of the London Missionary Society established a station on the bay at Yam's western end, resulting in a village around the mission. During the 1870s a pearling station operated on Tudu Island and Nahgi (Mount Ernest Island, southwest of Iama), with many men working on pearling luggers; Pacific Islanders working at Nahgi station later settled on Yam. During the Second World War, many men enlisted in the Torres Strait Light Infantry Battalion of the army, once more proving their warrior past.