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Tiwi Islands

Northern Territory


Community, Business and Visitor Guide

Tiwi Islands Local History

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Tiwi Islands History

Tiwi Islands are located about 80 kilometers north of Darwin in the Northern Territory of Australia. The islands consist of two main islands, Bathurst and Melville, and several smaller ones. The islands have been inhabited by the Tiwi people for over 7,000 years.

Early History

The Tiwi people have a rich cultural history that is evident in their art, dance, and stories. They have a strong connection to their land and sea and have passed on their traditions through generations. Historical evidence suggests that the Tiwi people had contact with Indonesian traders and Macassan fishermen from the 1600s onwards.

Colonial Era

The islands were first sighted by Europeans in 1705, but it was not until the 1820s that the British began to establish settlements in the area. The first European settlement was established on Melville Island in 1824 when Fort Dundas was established as a military post. Missionaries also began arriving on the islands in the 1910s, with the first Catholic mission established on Bathurst Island in 1911.

World War II

During World War II, the islands were strategically important due to their location. The Japanese bombed the islands in March 1942, and many of the Tiwi people were evacuated to mainland Australia. The islands were used as a base for Australian and American troops, and an airfield was built on Melville Island.

Post-War Era

After the war, the Tiwi people began to return to the islands, and their traditional way of life was disrupted by the introduction of Western culture and technologies. Many Tiwi people worked on the missions or in other industries, such as fishing and forestry. In the 1960s, the Tiwi Islands were granted reserve status to protect their land and culture from further intrusion.

Contemporary Times

Today, the Tiwi Islands are known for their unique blend of traditional and contemporary culture. The Tiwi people continue to practice their customs and traditions, such as the annual Tiwi Islands Football League grand final, which is a major cultural event. The islands are also home to a thriving art scene, with artists producing works in a range of mediums, including painting, carving, and screen printing.


The Tiwi Islands are becoming an increasingly popular tourist destination, with visitors attracted by the islands' natural beauty, wildlife, and cultural heritage. Various tours are available to visitors, including art tours, cultural tours, and fishing tours. Visitors can also participate in a range of activities, such as bushwalking, bird watching, and swimming.

History of in Tiwi Islands

The Tiwi Islands have a rich and fascinating history that is intertwined with the history of the Northern Territory and Australia as a whole. The Tiwi people's culture and traditions have survived for thousands of years, and they continue to play an important role in contemporary Australian society. As the islands become better known to visitors from around the world, it is important to respect the Tiwi people's culture and traditions and to protect their natural and cultural heritage for future generations.

Is the above information accurate? Please help us. We welcome Local Historical Groups in Tiwi Islands to post your historical photos and list your organisation in Tiwi Islands Community Directory Historical Societies For Local Community Groups, Clubs, No Profit Community Associations, Basic Directory Listings here are Free, and that includes posting your promotional videos and content onto TIWIISLANDS.NT.GUIDE So what is the catch? None at all. Upgrading your account to "Community Leader" that then sends our visitors to your organisation and switches on heaps of promotional features is just $2 per month and you can list in multiple towns and cities and if that is still just too much to pay to support us and what our family has built here for you let us know we will make it FREE. How? Simply click LOGIN