Bamaga



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.

Points of interest: Horn Island (Heritage Museum); Thursday Island; Possession Island; Cape York (32 km north); Gulf of Carpentaria; Jardine River National Park; Elliot Falls; Fruit Bat Falls; Gunshot Creek; Mutee Heads radar tower ruins; Somerset ruins (22 km north)

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.

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.

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