Bathurst Island lies approximately 80 kilometres to the north of Darwin in the Arafura Sea, and together with Melville Island makes up the Tiwi Islands. Bathurst Island has been the home of the Tiwi people for thousands of years. It is said that the word 'Tiwi' means 'people, the people or, perhaps, the chosen people. Nguiu is the largest of several Aboriginal communities on Bathurst Island.
Bathurst Island was first sighted by Europeans in 1644, when Abel Tasman passed on his way from Batavia.
In 1911 a church minister, Father Gsell, persuaded the South Australian government to give him 10,000 acres of land on Bathurst Island to build a mission for the Tiwi people. The mission achieved the dubious distinction of being the first place in Australia to experience foreign invasion when, on 19 February 1942, Japanese bombers, on their way to Darwin, bombed Nguiu. In 1978 the ownership of Bathurst Island was formally handed back to the Tiwi people and today the island is run by the Tiwi Land Council.
Today Tiwi customs have intermixed with the catholic doctrines, producing an amalgam of Aboriginal and catholic signs, symbols and text. Not to be missed is the beautifully preserved wooden church built in the 1930s. No visit to Bathurst Island would be complete without a tour of its arts and craft galleries. The Tiwi people’s distinctive style is popular with collectors’ world-wide, who snap up bark paintings, textiles, pottery and wood carvings.
While there is basic infrastructure and food stores in the community, traditional customs such as hunting from the land and the sea for traditional foods is still an important part of Tiwi life. Visitors need a permit to visit the Tiwi Islands and must go on an organised tour or fishing charter. The only exception is during March when the annual football grand final (which is accompanied by an art sale), is held in Nguiu. Visitors from all over the country flock to Bathurst Island for this sporting event.
Temperatures for Bathurst Island
Bathurst Island has hot summer temperatures. The summer high temperature for Bathurst Island is approximately 34 °c. The summer low temperature is approximately 24 °c.
Bathurst Island has warm winter temperatures. The winter high temperature for Bathurst Island is approximately 33 °c. The winter low temperature is approximately 16 °c.
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