Laying 100km north of Darwin, the Tiwi Islands is the perfect day tour destination to explore the culture and history of the “Island of Smiles”. There are minimal tourist facilities across the 11 islands that make up Tiwi, however only Bathurst and Melville Islands is are open to visitors.
So how to get to the Tiwi Islands? There are two options to get from Darwin to the Tiwi Islands – a 30-minute flight from Darwin, or a ferry that travels from Darwin to Bathurst Island three times a week. If you are coming from Darwin Airport, we offer car rentals in Darwin close to the airport. It is then just under 10km to Cullen Bay Marina where you can get the ferry to the Tiwi Islands.
2 Day/1 Night Experience the Tiwi Way
SeaLink ferries offer a 2-day/1-night package to the Tiwi Islands. Arriving at Wurrumiyanga on Bathurst Island, your Tiwi guides will show you how the locals live over two days.
Once you have stepped off the ferry, you will be met with a traditional “Welcome to Country” ceremony. Other activities over the two days include fishing, hunting, walks, listening to stories and songs around the fire and more.
This particular tour has been designed to give participants first-hand experience in sharing spaces with Tiwi families. In keeping with cultural protocol, activities will often be split into men and women’s groups, however this gives you a really great insight into the day to day life on the Tiwi Islands.
Tiwi Islands Football Grand Final & Annual Art Sale
If you are a fan of AFL, March is the best time to plan a trip to the Tiwi Islands. The Tiwi Football Grand Final and Annual Art Sale are combined on one day, where visitors can spend the morning visiting the museum and Catholic mission precinct or following the art trail and purchasing authentic art from Jilimara, Manupi and Tiwi Design art centres. Enjoy a lunch under the shade, and then it’s on to the football!
This once-a-year event sells out fast, so you will need to plan ahead.
Traditional Arts and Crafts
Every culture has its own arts and crafts, and the people of the Tiwi Islands are no different. On the islands, you’ll find a great range of arts and crafts that you can purchase including woven bangles, painted shells, pottery, wood carvings and clothing. There are a few places to pop on your list to stop by.
Tiwi Design is located on Bathurst Island and is one of Australia’s oldest art centres. Here you will find ochre paintings on canvas and bark, carvings, fabrics and glass sculpture. If you have time, join the Tiwi by Design cultural tour, where you’ll get a session with a Tiwi artist to create your own artwork. Munupi Arts is located on Melville Island and is an Aboriginal owned and governed association with traditional arts.
Catch a Fish
Tiwi Islands Adventures offers two to six-day fishing trips, perfect for any experience level. With accommodation on Melville Island, charter flights from Darwin and island transfers, and fishing permits, spend some time chasing the barra, croc spotting or crabbing. To relax, sample bush tucker that is traditional to the islands.
The Tiwi Islands are a fantastic cultural experience and certainly not to be missed when exploring Darwin!