You are in site section: Exhibitions

Geography and map

Lag Meta Aus: Home in the Torres Strait

Caution: This website includes images and names of deceased people that may cause distress to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.


Geography and map

The Torres Strait is a unique and vital part of Australia and the state of Queensland. It comprises more than 200 islands spread across 48,000 square kilometres, from the tip of Cape York to within 3.5 kilometres of the Papua New Guinean coast.

Click on the images below for a larger view of scenes from the Torres Strait

  • Islands in the Torres Strait.
    Islands in the Torres Strait
  • Mer (Murray Island), Torres Strait.
    Mer (Murray Island)
  • Ugar Island
    Ugar Island
  • Poruma Island, Torres Strait
    Poruma Island
  • Erub (Darnley Island), Torres Strait
    Erub (Darnley Island)
  • Friday Island
    Friday Island
  • Poruma Island
    Poruma Island
  • Dancers at the opening of the Gab Titui Cultural Centre
    Waibene (Thursday Island)
  • A colour photograph of a group of women dressed in brightly coloured floral clothing.
    Poruma Island
  • Samuel Baragud (Snr) making a crayfish spear.
    Iama Island
  • Two boys catching crabs on a beach.
    Kiriri Island
  • Two young girls paddling their feet in water.
    Mabuiag Island

Language

People of the Torres Strait are of Melanesian background and speak two Indigenous languages – Meriam Mir (with two dialects: Mer Mir and Erub Mir) in the Eastern Islands, and Kala Lagaw Ya (which has four regional dialects: Kalaw Kawaw Ya, Mabuyag, Kulkalgaw Ya and Kaurareg).

Lag, meta and aus are the words for ‘home’ in Kala Lagaw Ya and Meriam Mir, and in Torres Strait creole, Yumplatok, which is spoken across the region.

A group of people holding plants and flowers.
Preparing for the opening of the Gab Titui Cultural Centre, Waibene (Thursday Island), Torres Strait. Photo: George Serras.

Five island groups

The Torres Strait’s five island groups – the Inner, Near Western,Top Western, Central and Eastern islands – each features vastly different sea and landscapes. These disparate environments have created a dynamic and varied cultural heritage that lives on today across the Torres Strait and in the three quarters of the Islander population who now live in towns and cities across mainland Australia.

Zoom in to see the Torres Strait island groups in more detail