Mariners of the Torres Strait

The “Straits” between Cape York, Australia and Papua New Guinea is a place of Mariners. All types. It has the main shipping channel through it to the eastern seaboard of Australia. It is a place of big tides, strong currents, shoals and reefs and shallow waters. All are hazards to shipping. Torres Strait pilots (ship’s pilots) guide the large vessels through the Straits. The shipping then enters the northern parts of The Great Barrier Reef also under guidance from experienced ships pilots. Local Torres Strait Island people use “dinghies” known as “tinnies” like the family car. My centre photo shows “tinnies” tied at Horn Island wharf with seagoing Seaswift barges that service the Islands behind. The left image is the main shipping channel just north of Thursday Island. Hammond Island is in the background. The right side shot is in the northern Torres Strait near New Guinea showing a lone tinnie, probably out fishing, but miles from the nearest settlement on a mangrove covered, crocodile inhabited tropical coastline. Torres Strait Islanders think nothing of undertaking sea voyages of 100 nautical miles in these open dinghies.

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