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Tiwi Islands / Bathurst Island / Melville Island

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Tiwi Islands / Bathurst Island / Melville Island
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Tiwi Islands / Bathurst Island / Melville Island
Only 80 km north of Darwin are the two islands of Bathurst and Melville, together they are known as the Tiwi Islands. The islands are Aboriginal owned, being home to the Tiwi Aboriginal people, and is administered by the Tiwi Land Council. Although the public can access the fish and waters around the islands, permits are required to go ashore.

The problems of people illegally landing on Bathurst and Melville Islands was raised in meetings between Fisheries and the Tiwi Land Council. Following the discussions, an agreement was reached between Fisheries and the Tiwi Land Council that allow boat operators to camp for up to seven days on one of six designated beaches by way of a permit. A set of conditions are applied to the permits and visitors are asked to avoid sacred sites and sites of importance to the Tiwi people, as well as to report any undesirable conduct, as this wonderful access that has been granted should not be jeopardised by irresponsible behaviour.

The Amateur Fisherman’s Association of the Northern Territory (AFANT) has been appointed to administer the permits. At time of writing, permits cost $55.00 for a boat maximum of 4 people. If more than 4 people in one boat there is a charge of $27.50 per person GST inclusive and a $70 refundable deposit on flag to identify permit holders. The Tiwi people receive $45 (inc GST) of the permit and AFANT $10 for administration. Contact details below.

Bathurst Island is where the majority of the Tiwi Aboriginal people live. In 1911 Nguiu, which is the main settlement on Bathurst Island was founded as a Catholic Mission. There are tours to Nguiu from Darwin which includes your flights, visit to several catholic missions and the unique burial grounds with carved wooden headstones. Most tours include a visit to Melville Island and the settlements of  Milikapiti and Pularumpi. In fact using a local tour company is an ideal way to visit the islands, as they will manage all permit requirements.

The main settlements on Melville Island are Milikapiti and Pularumpi, and a visit to Melville is incorporated into many tours to the islands. The main tour company is Tiwi Tours which run several different tours Ph: 1800 183 630. A tour is probably the best way to see the islands and you don’t have to worry about permits.

Popular period to the region is September through to November. In addition to our listed online travel guide information, contact the local tourism visitor centre for your destination for more attractions, tours, local maps and other information.

Information Centre

Darwin Region Tourism Association

Northern Territory Visitors Centre

Important Contacts on the Tiwi Islands
Department of Business, Industry and Resource Development

Amateur Fishermen’s Association of the Northern Territory Inc
Ph: 08 8945 6455
Email: Email

For a map of the Tiwi Islands and the Recreational Camping Sites courtesy of the Department of Business, Industry and Resource Development, click here...

Tiwi Islands Other links

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