• Murray Island towards Daua and Waua Islands, in the eastern group of the Torres Strait Islands. (Torres Strait Regional Authority)
As NITV premieres 'Ailan Kastom' a documentary about Torres Strait Islander culture this Sunday, learn a little bit more about our Indigenous people who live just to the north of Cape York.
By
Karina Marlow

29 Sep 2016 - 5:07 PM  UPDATED 29 Sep 2016 - 5:07 PM

1. The Torres Strait Islands are made up of 18 inhabited islands, around 100 uninhabited islands and two mainland communities located off the northern tip of Australia. The Torres Strait Islands had a population of 4,248 in the 2011 Census. 

2. The islands are scattered over 48,000km2 of water from Australia’s northern borders with Papua New Guinea and Indonesia south to the tip of Cape York.

3. The phrase ‘Ailan Kastom’ refers to the customs, traditions and beliefs of the Torres Strait Islander people.

4. The Torres Strait Island flag was designed in 1992 by Bernard Namok Snr of Thursday Island and became an official Australian flag in 1995.

5. Every element of the flag has a unique meaning: the green strips represent the land with the blue representing the water of the Torres Strait. The black lines represent the Torres Strait Islander people, the white star represents the five major island groups and symbolises peace and well as the use of the stars for navigation and the white dhari represents the culture and people of the Torres Strait. 

6. The dhari is a traditional headdress made and worn by men. It was traditionally made from Frigate Bird and Torres Strait Pigeon feathers but they are now made from a variety of materials.

7. Dharis are often used during dance performances and some dancers will shake their heads to vibrate the feathers causing a shimmering effect.

8. Torres Strait Islanders have a distinct culture from Aboriginal Australia with small variations within each island community. One difference is that many Islanders traditionally grew food in family-owned gardens on the Islands as well as hunting and gathering.

Weekend Playlist - A trip to the Torres Strait
This weekends playlist takes us to the beautiful Torres Strait Islands, with some new and established artists who deliver a unique islan style take on folk, hip hop and contemporary music.
Mabo Day on Murray Island: 5 questions with Alo Tapim
NITV spoke with Torres Strait Island elder Alo Tapim about life on Murray Island and the significance of Mabo Day to the community.

9. The Torres Strait Islanders are sea-farers and often traded with the people of Papua New Guinea.

10. There are four different languages within the Torres Strait Islands: English, Kalau Lagau Ya and Meriam Mir (both traditional languages) and Torres Strait Creole.

For more information about Torres Strait Islander culture watch ‘Ailan Kastom’, a documentary filmed in association with the Torres Strait Regional Council

Ailan Kastom will premiere on NITV on Sunday 2nd October at 9.30pm.