The Torres Strait

The Torres Strait is one of the smallest but most strategically important regions of the Australian coastline. It:

  • Is the only part of Australia that shares a border with a neighbouring country
  • Is 3.73 kilometres from the Papua New Guinea mainland at its northern most point (Saibai
    Island)
  • Is only 73.5km from Indonesia at its north-western most edge
  • Was the first place in Australia where Native title was recognised through the historic High Court decision on Mer Island in 1992.

Further, in the Torres Strait, Islanders and the villages along the PNG southern coastline continue to conduct traditional trade and cross border visits.

The traditional people of Torres Strait are of Melanesian origin and speak two distinct languages.

In the Eastern Islands (Erub, Mer and Ugar) the traditional language is Meriam Mir, while the Western and Central Island groups speak either Kala Lagaw Ya or Kala Kawa Ya, which are the dialects of the same language.

  Rennel Island 30 Jan 2013

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