A remote settlement of some 2,000 people, who are mainly Torres Strait Islanders or Injinoo Aboriginal Community members. Bamaga is so isolated, all supplies must be flown in. It also has the distinction of being the most northerly town on the Australian mainland. Most people who drive here do so (only in four wheel drive vehicles) in order to be able to say they have been to the most northerly tip of Australia.
Location: 61 km north of the Jardine River; 983 km north of Cairns.
A town with a population of around 2,000, it lies 983 km north of Cairns. The original site for the township of Bamaga was at Muttee Heads, some 20 km south of the present Bamaga township. The area is shrouded in history with culture and war memorabilia.
Tourist activities include Sight-seeing tours to Thursday Island; guided fishing and pig hunting tours; bird watching in the nearby Lockerbie Scrub rainforest and, of course, the obligatory photo shoot at the 'Tip of Australia'.
Aircraft wreckage: Bamaga Airport was created late 1942, in WWII as a substitute base for bomber planes, replacing the Horn Island Airport which was recieving heavy Japanese fire and rapidly deteriorating due to flooding. Initially known to the Americans as 'Red Island Point', and as 'Jacky Jacky' to the Australians, it was later renamed to Higgins Feild, in honour of RAAF Flight Lieutenant Brian Hartley Higgins, who was killed in air operations in May 1943. There are two aircraft wrecks located near the airport, a Beaufort A9-190 Bomber lies North of the runway and a Douglas DC-3, VH-CXD now preserved as a war memorial can be found 3km North-West. There is also World War II aircraft wreckage on Horn Island (near Thursday Island).
Seisia: A small settlement, 6 km north of Bamaga, with an excellent foreshore camping area, a kiosk and service station. Seisia Island Dancers perform traditional dances at the camp ground during the peak tourist season. Fishing from the jetty is outstanding and there are fishing excursions to the Jacky Jacky Estuary and the Jardine River.
Badu Island: Badu has the second largest population of the Torres Strait islands. The local people still retain their cultural heritage, and are extremely proud to show their island and culture to anyone who takes the time to visit. This includes traditional arts and crafts, traditional Island dances (in full island costume, including woven skirts, cassowary feathered headdresses and more), local songs and dances, and an Island style lunch, complete with seafood and traditional foods, cooked "kup-mari" style (underground steam oven). On the way there and back, the ferry passes various picturesque islands, sand cays and gleaming coral reefs. Opportunity abound to spot any one of Booby Birds, Torres Strait Pigeons or Green turtles. Tours to the island are conducted ftom Bamaga.
Mutee Heads: Mutee Heads is a popular spot off the main road that goes north to Bamaga. Other than the headland itself, there are also Saibai Islander graves, a beautiful beach and some Second World War relics. Up on the hill behind the beach is a Second World War radar tower, reachable by a track that turns off the road in, not far from the beach. The old poles sticking out of the water is what is left from a Second World War jetty, which was later useful for the community of Saibai islanders. The WWII relics were already here when the first Saibai islanders came to settle on the mainland in 1947. While the Bamaga township was built most families stayed in Mutee Head, and gradually moved to Bamaga as the housing was completed there. If you like fishing and exploring, there is also a small track west to the mouth of Jardine River.
Punsard Bay: 28km from Bamaga but only 5km from the tip of Cape York, it is the most northern address in Australia. The unique geographical position makes Punsand Bay one of Australia's untouched wildernesses with an abundance of wildlife. Watch the sun rise out of the Coral Sea in the Pacific Ocean and set over the Arafura Sea in the Indian Ocean. Punsard Bay has an attractive beach and an up-market (for this area) resort with airconditioned safari cabins and tents as well as powered camping and caravan sites. The beachfront camping ground, accommodation, restaurant and bar overlooks the golden sand beach and turquoise waters of the Arafura Sea, Torres Strait Islands and northwards to "The Tip" of Australia.
The main road in is a gravel road which goes past a Second World War fuel dump and a side track up the hill to the old Ginger Dick's mine. Just west of the Punsand Bay Resort, Cable Bay is a beautiful spot, and there is also a historical Old Telegraph Line junction box, which is at the very northern end of the line. Towards Peak Point, there are small tracks to more nice spots and beaches. West of Cable Bay and Peak Point, the track continues to Roonga Point - on the other side of the Peak Point headland - with more beaches and beautiful views over bright blue waters. East of the Punsand Bay Resort there is a track that you can take to the tip of Australia, without having to go back to Lockerbie. It is the so-called Roma Flats shortcut track, which is a narrower track (as opposed to the corrugated gravel roads), with soft sandy sections, and usually impassable early in the season.
Brief history: Off the coast near Bamaga is Possession Island where Lieut. James Cook formally took possession of the east coast of Australia in 1770. Nearby Somerset (22 km north) was established in 1863 as the administrative centre of the area. In the same year brothers Frank and Alexander Jardine left Rockhampton with a mob of cattle to establish a cattle station at Somerset. It was even thought at one time that Somerset might become a major Singapore-like trading centre for north Queensland, but in 1877 its functions were shifted to Thursday Island.
Origin of name: reportedly named after an Aboriginal Saibai elder, Bamaga Ginau, who is said to have envisioned the settlement for his people, but died before it was founded.