About Ugar


Ugar (also known as Stephens Island) is situated in the eastern island group of Torres Strait. It is 1 of the 3 islands known as the Murray Group, which also includes Erub and Mer islands.


The traditional languages of Ugar are the Erub–Ugar and Mer-Dauar-Waier, which are both dialects of the Meriam Mir. The predominant spoken language is Torres Strait Creole although English is also spoken. Assistance may be required for complainants, witnesses victims and offenders who come before the court. 

History of Ugar

Ugar facts and figures

For 2011 and 2016 census information on education, employment, income, housing figures and more for Ugar, 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 Ugar

Ugar Island is part of the Torres Strait Island Regional Council (TSIRC). The TSIRC asks all visitors to Ugar to register their visit before they arrive. It is also recommended that visitors read the TSIRC's information on culture, protocols and heritage.

Getting to Ugar

Ugar is very remote and can only be accessed from the mainland by boat or helicopter as the island has no airstrip. Private charters and transfers are available from Horn Island. 

Seasonal considerations

The wet season in the Torres Strait starts around October and ends around April-May. The region may be subject to strong weather conditions at this time.

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. 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 Strait Island Regional Council. 

Who to contact if you have questions about your visit

Sorry business and sad news

When a member of the Ugar community passes away, the announcement to members of the family and the community is made by an elder, a local priest or a councillor. In-laws (both males and females), referred to as Neubet [Nay-bet], play a very important role during the immediate period following a death. Their tasks are organising meals and making funeral arrangements and ensuring that family and community members are safe and supported. The community gathers together daily to share, comfort and support each other until the day of the funeral. 

On the day of the funeral the community shuts down and a feast is held after the funeral to conclude the initial stage of the mourning period. The terminology used to mark this period in the eastern islands (including Ugar Island) is referred to as Izurzur-Lewer [E-zurr-zurr Lair-Werr]. The English translation is cry - calm – feasting.

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

There is currently no community justice group on Ugar.

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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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