Feel your cheeks hurt from so much smiling as you discover the beautiful Tiwi Islands, the ‘Island of Smiles’.
Take a trip across the water from Darwin to find a unique haven. With a thriving Aboriginal arts culture, fishing lodges, coastal landscapes with breathtaking sunsets, the Tiwi Islands promises to be a destination like no other.
The Tiwi Islands comprise of two main islands – Bathurst and Melville, which are 80 kilometres north of Darwin. Most of the residents are of Aboriginal descent and you’ll meet some of them on cultural and wildlife tours.
The people on Tiwi Islands are famous for their traditional lifestyle, stunning artworks, vibrant fabrics and textiles, plus an exuberant passion for football. Take a day tour from Darwin to the Tiwi Islands to find out why it’s nicknamed the ‘Island of Smiles’.
Things to see & do on the Tiwi Islands
- Picnic Area
- Public Toilet
Can the Tiwi Islands be done as a day trip?
Yes you can, there are two main day trip options from Darwin to visit the Tiwi Islands. A flying tour will give you more time on the islands, although the ferry is an excellent way to see the coastline and give yourself a different perspective of Darwin.
Do I need any passes or permits to visit the Tiwi Islands?
The Tiwi Islands are Aboriginal land, and all visitors are required to have a permit. If you're travelling on a tour your permit will be arranged by the tour operator. Visitors who are not part of a tour are required to be hosted by a resident who will arrange permits on their behalf. Visit the Tiwi Land Council's website for more information.
How do I get around the Tiwi Islands?
The Tiwi Islands are made up of Bathurst and Melville Islands, the latter of which is Australia’s second largest after Tasmania. The Tiwi Islands are only accessible on a tour - your tour operator will arrange the transport, so you can sit back and relax. A range of touring options are available and include bus, car, boat and light aircraft.
How do I get to the Tiwi Islands?
The Tiwi Islands are 80km north of Darwin, to visit the islands you will need a permit. Tours from Darwin include light aircraft flights or a ferry ride with Sealink Northern Territory. The flying time to Bathurst Island is 20 minutes, and the ferry ride takes 2.5 hours. Be sure to check timetables well in advance.
How far are the Tiwi Islands from Darwin?
The main community of Wurrumiyanga on Bathurst Island is 80km from Darwin, which is a 20 minute flight by light aircraft or 2.5 hour ferry ride. The communities of Milikapiti and Pirlangimpi on Melville island are 130 km from Darwin, which is approximately 40 minutes flying time.
What are the major attractions at the Tiwi Islands?
All year round, the Tiwi Islands offer an authentic insight into one of the most fascinating examples of Aboriginal culture Australia has to offer. Visit community art centres which feature contemporary Aboriginal art works including wood carvings, pottery, screen printed fabrics and impressive works on canvas. The Patakijiyali Museum uncovers the rich cultural history of the Tiwi people, along with photographs and stories about the modern history of the islands. The Islands are also a prime fishing spot, with many Darwin-based fishing operators offering extended tours to the region.
What should I bring with me to the Tiwi Islands?
When heading to the Tiwi Islands, don't forget to bring your hat, drinking water, sunscreen, mosquito repellent and comfortable clothing and footwear.
When is the best time to visit the Tiwi Islands?
Day tours operate Monday to Friday, April to November. The annual Tiwi Islands Football Grand Final and Art Sale event takes place in March each year and is a great opportunity to see an iconic game of Australian rules football. You'll also have the chance to scoop up some unique pieces of Aboriginal art.
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