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”.
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).
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 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.
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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.
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.