We use cookies on this site to enhance your user experience. Find out more in our Privacy Policy. By clicking any link on this page you are giving your consent for us to set cookies.

About Tiwi Islands

A local woman from Tiwi Islands smiles at the camera

The Tiwi Islands are a must-do on any Northern Territory itinerary.

Comprising Bathurst and Melville Islands, with a population of around 2,500 people, the Tiwi Islands are only 80km north of Darwin and very accessible via the 2.5-hour comfortable SeaLink ferry service. The Tiwi Islands people are known for their love for art, footy, and fishing.. Most of the residents are Tiwi and you will have the opportunity to meet and learn about Tiwi culture on our Tiwi Islands tours.

The SeaLink ferry service operates to Wurrumiyanga (formerly known as Nguiu) on Bathurst Island. No permit is required to visit Wurrumiyanga if you are on a SeaLink tour, however, if you venture further afield, please contact the Tiwi Land Council for your permit as the Tiwi Islands are private land.

Tiwi Islands Information

  • tiwi islands rainbow beach

    During the Ice Age, the Tiwi Islands were connected to the mainland through the Coburg Peninsula in western Arnhem Land. With rapid sea level rises the islands were separated leaving the Tiwi people to develop in isolation giving birth to their distinct culture that they fiercely protect to date. The first European sighting of the Tiwi Islands was by Dutch navigator Pieter Pieterszoon in 1634.

    In 1644, another Dutch navigator named Abel Tasman sailed through Dundas Strait between the Tiwi Islands and Coburg Peninsula. Until 1818, the explorers couldn't establish that there were two separate land areas. His exploration led to British interest in establishing a settlement on the north coast of Australia. For more information on the history of the islands, visit Tiwi Land Council.

  • Tiwi islands art

    The islands' art is connected to its visual, oral, and dance culture. The Tiwi people are internationally renowned for their individual style of art including carvings and bright textile designs. Prized by collectors, many Tiwi artists have exhibited around the world. You can visit Tiwi Design, one of the premier art centres as part of SeaLink's Tiwi by Design tour.

  • tiwi islands fishing

    Tiwi Islands' many lush rivers and creeks make the islands an excellent fishing destination. The dominant fish species include barramundi, mangrove jacks, threadfin salmon, and more.

  • Tiwi Islands footy

    Footy is almost like a religion on the Tiwi Islands. From a young age, Tiwi people are passionate for Australian Rules or Aussie Rules football. Incredibly, the Tiwi Islands Football League boasts nine local teams, the highest football participation rate in Australia. The Grand Final is held in August each year and is a major tourist attraction on the islands.