Thursday Island
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Soaking in the history of Thursday Island
Thursday Island, one of the weekday islands sprawled across the Torres Strait, is a large land mass that you cannot miss. It is a luminous, forest-filled body, one of the stepping stones to its sister islands Friday, Saturday and Sunday. One of my cruise companions joked that Thursday island is a fine place to start the weekend drinking. Affectionately known as Waiben in its native language, it occupies a sizable chunk, at 1,351 square miles. Despite its size, Thursday Island has two main attractions to write home to your folks about: a hefty canon on top of Milman Hill, a WWII defense facility; and a museum detailing the evolution of the delicate but culturally-relevant Torres Strait masks, which are made with island resources that include turtleshell, white cowrie shells, goa nuts, cassowary feathers and strands of calico and ochre. The museum also highlights the island’s deep pearling culture. Pearl shells were used to make shirt buttons. As I walk the esplanade which has historical milestones engraved, I pass scores of souvenir shops set up under the landing. They sell handmade ghostnet handbags, crotchet sweaters, floral hair clips and beaded bracelets. But what catches my eye are the photos of Jeff Boddy, who sells me a picture of the famous canon on Milman Hill, silhouetted against a grayish supermoon. How can you take a bad sunset photo when vermilion rays bounce off a sheet of pale blue?
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