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Frequently asked questions

A local Tiwi Islands man with face painted in a traditional way

SeaLink Northern Territory connects residents and travellers to Tiwi Islands from Darwin via its fast and reliable ferry service. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions regarding Tiwi Islands and the ferry service to the Islands.

  • The ferry service from Darwin to the Tiwi Islands docks at the community of Wurrumiyanga (formerly known as Nguiu) on Bathurst Island.

  • Please arrive at the Cullen Bay ferry terminal at least 30 minutes prior to departure time. This allows sufficient time for our staff to issue your boarding pass, and for security staff to check luggage prior to boarding. Check-in will close approximately 5 minutes prior to the departure time to allow us to prepare the vessel and depart on time. Late arrivals after check-in closes may not be able to board the vessel.

  • If you are visiting Melville Island, take the ferry from Darwin to Wurrumiyanga, then take the council barge for the 5-minute crossing across the Apsley Strait to Paru on Melville Island. Bus connections operate from Paru to Pirlangimpi (Garden Point) and Milikapiti (Snake Bay) on Melville Island, subject to road conditions. Book for the Tuparipiya Bus Service on 0428 201 126.

  • No. It is illegal to take alcohol to the Tiwi Islands. Security checks are performed on luggage, and anyone found with alcohol will be denied travel and will be banned from travelling in the future. Criminal charges may apply.

  • Yes, dogs travel free of charge on the Tiwi Islands ferry service. It is a condition of travel that dogs are muzzled or in a cage. Whilst there are muzzles available for purchase it is best to bring one that your dog is used to wearing. Owners must always remain outside on the stern deck with their dogs.

  • The ferry service between Darwin (Cullen Bay) and Wurrimyanga on Bathurst Islands takes approximately 2.5 hours each way.

  • The Tiwi Islands are private land. Permits are not required for those travelling on SeaLink day tours.

    If you are travelling independently and wish to venture outside of the Wurrumiyanga community, then a permit is required. Permit applications are through the Tiwi Land Council.

    To get the best from your visit, book SeaLink's tours where you will have a local Tiwi guide to show you their community. Please note that there are limited sightseeing options unless you are booked on a tour.

  • There is no public transport available at Wurrumiyanga, however, the main places of interest are within walking distance for most. These include:

    • Tiwi Design Art Centre
    • Patakijiyali Museum, entry fee $10
    • Mission precinct including the old church, Matthias Ullungura statue, and WWII radio shed (note that access to inside the church is available only to tour guests).
    • Foreshore and welcome centre – at the top of the ferry pontoon.

    Please be aware of guests who have paid for tours and guides, and do not ‘tag along’.

  • No, all of our ferries in the Northern Territory are passenger-only ferries.