Torres Strait Islands

When I hear Poruma song, it fills my heart with joy and tears at the same time to realise who I am today.

Phillemon Mosby, Poruma Islander, Ailan Kastom (film) 2016

Nestled in the shallow warm waters of the Zenadh Kes (Torres Strait) and flanked by the Coral and Arafura Seas lie the 274 islands of the Torres Strait Island nation.

The Islands, spread across some 48,000 square kilometres, are culturally divided into 5 groups - Guda Maluilgal (Northern Islands), Maluiligal (Western Islands), Kaiwalagal (Southern Islands), Kulkagal (Central Islands) and Malu Lagalgal (Eastern Islands).  Major Torres Strait Islander communities at the tip of Cape York on the Australian mainland are included in these groups.  Several languages and dialects are spoken across the different communities.

The Torres Strait passage is only 150 km wide, but the islands are environmentally diverse, comprising high-peaked volcanic mountains, low sandy cays and coral reefs, granite mountainscapes and flat muddy tidal areas.
Image copyright Rey-Lescure 2010 

Torres Strait Islanders are proud seafaring peoples with a long history of trade with neighbouring groups in New Guinea, Australia, Asia and the Pacific Islands.  This multicultural society maintains a distinct cultural identity through Ailan Kastom (Island Customs) and Ailan Lore (Island Lore) - longheld traditions and belief systems that govern everyday life.