Category Archives: Historic Sites

Cape York Day 8 – Thursday Island

UntitledOriginally we weren’t going to do the tour over to Thursday Island as is was a bit expensive. However, when we got to the Tip we decided that we had come all of this way, we probably won’t do it again, we should just do it. So we did.

We booked our ferry tickets through reception at Punsand Bay, who were wonderful, and caught the ferry the next day. Peddells Ferry is the only passenger ferry that goes over and they also run a tour. We decided to pass on the tour and instead take a tour with a local guy Dirk who was just starting his own business.

View of the back of the ferry to Thursday Island

View of the back of the ferry to Thursday Island

Good choice! He tooks us around on a personalised tour around the island. He was very laid back, but full of information. The name of his company is Lax Charters & Tours and he can be contacted on lax_tours@hotmail.com.

Thursday Island (TI) is the administrative and commercial centre of the Torres Strait Islands and the most northerly town in Australia, it has had a fascinating history.

The Island has approx 3000 residents with about 9000 in total on all of the Islands in the area, and there are a few. Dirk, our guide lives on Prince of Wales Island next door to TI and commutes over to work by boat.

First stop on our tour was the Fort on Green Hill which was built in response to a Russian war scare. It is now a museum with amazing views.

Green Hill Fort

Green Hill Fort looking over Prince Of Wales Island

Rows and rows and rows of Japanese Pearlers are buried here. They say that at least 600 Japanese were killed while Pearling

Rows and rows and rows of Japanese Pearlers are buried here. They say that at least 600 Japanese were killed while Pearling and not all were recovered.

We drove around the “suburbs” of TI and then to the cemetery. The Pearling Industry began when pearl shells were first discovered in the Torres Strait in the 1890’s. This attracted workers from surrounding countries. Unfortunately pearling was a perilous job and hundreds of workers, particularly the Japanese, were killed. This makes TI’s cemetery rather unique as the occupants are a mixture of Muslims, Buddhists, Japanese, Pacific Islanders and Torres Strait Islanders. As well as being one of the northern most cemeteries in Australia.

We weren’t able to visit the cultural centre as it wasn’t open because it was Saturday which was disappointing.

Instead we stopped at The Torres Hotel which is famous because its the most northern pub in Australia, Fantastic! We had lunch and a few drinks before we headed back to catch our ferry back to the mainland.

Through the Ruins of Paronella Park

The Tea Rooms, Paronella Park

The Tea Rooms, Paronella Park

José Paronella arrived in Australia from Catalonia in Spain, in 1913. In 1929, after spending a number of years in Australia, José purchased 13 acres in 1929 and started to build his pleasure gardens and reception centre for the enjoyment of the public.

there was a waterfall, hydro electricity, tea rooms, a castle, a ballroom, swimming pool and over 7000 tropical plants in the extensive garden, all built by José.

A view from the Falls at the front of the Park. On the left is the castle and at the bottom left is the hydro plant

A view from the Falls at the front of the Park. On the left is the castle and at the bottom left is the hydro plant

Unfortunately there was a flood and then soon after José died of stomach cancer, his wife died some years later and his son as well. His son’s wife was left to run the park and in 1977 she sold it.

Sadly, in 1979, a fire swept through the Castle. There were a number of cyclones and floods in the following years and the park fell into ruin.

A pic from the night tour, this is the castle

A pic from the night tour, this is the castle

In 1993 the current owners found the park, bought it and work on maintaining and preserving, rather than rebuilding.

The park has won a number of awards and it’s easy to see why.

We purchased our tickets through RACQ for a 10% discount so it was about $39 each. This includes entry into the park, a day tour, a night tour and 1 nights accommodation in their campground and your ticket is valid for entry up to 24 months. Really it was great value.

The park itself is just stunning! I was able to get some lovely daytime and night time shots.

The Tea Rooms

The Tea Rooms

We loved our time here! The guides were fantastic and the staff in the cafe/reception were amazing. The park is beautiful and a truly unique attraction in FNQ.

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