Located 80 kilometres north of Darwin, the Tiwi Islands are the combination of Bathurst and Melville Islands and collectively the Aboriginal population call themselves the Tiwi people. The Tiwi Islands remain a unique and rare opportunity to view and share this culture. Travellers do need a permit to visit the Tiwi Islands and cannot arrive unannounced, it is therefore imperative to go on an organised tour or fishing charter. There are several fishing lodges on the Islands to cater for the fishing enthusiast or for those wanting a cultural experience, you can do this on a day tour. There are also overnight experiences including going out with a hunting party to gather traditional bush foods such as mud mussels, mud crabs and mangrove worms.
The Tiwi people are world famous for their art, many paintings can be found hanging in major art galleries around the world. Their art extends from the traditional forms of paintings on bark and canvas to wood carvings, distinctive silk screened cloth, woven accessories and pottery. There are several art galleries on both Melville and Bathurst Island and you are more than welcome to purchase directly from the artists.
The Tiwi Islands are also famous for their love of sports, in particular Australian Rules Football. The Tiwi Football Grand Final, usually held in March, is a must see if you are in the area at the time.
Nicknamed the Island of Smiles, the Tiwi people are coastal Aborigines with a culture different to those on the mainland. Their strong traditions, rituals and traditional foods are still a very important part of everyday life today and they appear to have successfully combined both traditional and modern lifestyles.