Horn Island

About Horn Island (Ngarupai)


Ngarupai, or Horn Island,  as it is most commonly known, is located in the southern or ‘Prince of Wales’ island group of Torres Strait.   


Horn Island’s population is diverse as many people have moved to the island from all over the Torres Strait and mainland Australia. There are a number of languages spoken on the island including Torres Strait Creole, English, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages of the neighbouring islands and mainland Australia. The use of an interpreter may be necessary to assist complainants, witnesses, victims and offenders who come before the courts.

History of Horn Island

Horn Island facts and figures

Key social indicators from the 2016 Census for the Horn Island community include:

  • 42.9% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples aged 15 years and over had completed year 12 or equivalent
  • 36.8% of households with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples were overcrowded.

The following figures are from the 2011 Census and will be updated later in 2017:

  • 14.1% of dependent children in families with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples were from jobless families
  • 14.4% unemployment rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples aged 15 to 64 years
  • 24.5% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples aged 15 to 64 years worked in the Public administration and safety industry.

For more 2011 and 2016 census information on education, employment, income, housing figures and more for Horn Island, build a statistical profile on Know Your Community.

Native title information

Search for native title information on the National Native Title Tribunal website.

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Visiting Horn Island

Getting to Horn Island

Horn Island Airport is the only domestic airport in the Torres region and acts as the hub to the southern islands. Operated by the Torres Shire Council, this airport has an all-weather landing strip where airlines operate regular services to the outer islands. On-site amenities include a bathroom, telephone and kiosk. Horn Island Airport has limited parking and prearranging a space is recommended. A number of private companies offer flights throughout the Torres Strait.

All islands surrounding Thursday Island are serviced by ferry connections that link in with Horn Island and the airport.  

Seasonal considerations

The wet season in the Torres Strait starts around October and ends in April-May. The region may be subject to cyclones during the wet season.

Quarantine restrictions

When visiting the Torres Strait you need to observe the quarantine regulations. It is against the law to move plant and animal material, including fruit, from the Torres Strait to the mainland.

For more information visit the Australian interstate quarantine website.  

Alcohol restrictions

There are no alcohol management plans for islands in the Torres Strait. However, please check with the local council as some island communities may have preferred protocols in relation to the consumption of alcohol. 

Local government

Search the local government directory for information about the Torres Shire Council. 

Who to contact if you have questions about your visit

Regional Director (Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships)

Phone: 07 4069 1243
Mobile: 0400 769 868

Torres Shire Council

Phone: 07 4069 1336
Fax: 07 4069 1845
Email: admin[at]torres.qld.gov.au

Sorry business

The mourning process on Horn Island is referred to as Awm [Aw-m] or Bud [Bood], and it allows some healing for the family and community involved. When news of the death of a community member/s is received, organisations may close for several hours or more. Offices may or may not re-open later on the same day. Meetings, forums, workshops etc are generally rescheduled, in consultation with appropriate community representatives, to a more convenient time.

When there is a death in the community, the families of the deceased gather from the day of passing until the funeral. This is a time of mourning, and the families, including the extended families of the deceased, are not generally engaged until after the funeral. During this time business does not generally take place in the community, however this does not apply to essential services such as policing, child safety, health, education and justice.

For Torres Strait Islander cultures, ‘Tombstone Openings’ are a time for celebration and symbolise the point that brings closure for the family of the deceased through the celebration of the person’s life. There is a lengthy mourning process from the time of the person’s death, culminating with the unveiling of the tombstone ceremony, which is followed by feasting and dancing. This process usually takes place about 1 or 2 years after the funeral, however some families may take longer to prepare for this event. 

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Community justice group

Horn Island does not have an active community justice group. 

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Community services

Use the Queensland Government's one place service directory to find up-to-date contact information for local support services including:

  • legal advice and support services
  • youth justice and support groups
  • domestic and family violence support
  • drug and alcohol services
  • mens' and women's groups
  • accident, emergency and medical services

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More information

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Is your feedback

Please submit your comments on the department's Compliments and Complaints section.

Please submit your comments on the Queensland Government website Contacts form.