The village seen through the palms, Badu Island, Queensland, ca. 1928


The Near Western Islands comprise Badu, Mabuiag, Moa and Naghir Islands.The Near Western Island cluster has distinct cultural characteristics which define them as a region and people.

Badu is an island 60km north of Thursday Island in the Torres Strait. Warfare, turtle and dugong hunting were the main occupations of Badu men until the 1870s; turtle and dugong hunting continued after this. Pearlers established bases on the island during the 1870s and by the early 1880s the islanders were becoming dependent on wages earned as lugger crew. The language of Badu is Kala Lagaw Ya.

The language of Mabuiag is the Gœmulgau (Mabuylgau) Ya sub-dialect of Kala Lagaw Ya. Like the larger Moa and Badu Islands to its south, Mabuiag is part of the old submerged land bridge that ran from Cape York to Papua New Guinea. Mabuiag consists of two moieties, the Gumuligal of Wagadagam on the northwest side and the Mabuygilgal people of the Paipaidagam on the south-east side.

Moa is the second largest island in the Torres Strait. Kubin is a community located on Moa (Banks Island), which has two communities, Kubin and St Pauls. The language of Kubin is Kala Lagaw Ya (Muwalgau/Italgau and Kaiwalgau sub-dialects). Kubin residents retain their links with the Thursday Island (Waiben), Bamaga and Cowal Creek (Injinoo) communities. Poid was located on Moa and abandoned after World War II; one group moving back to their Narupai (Horn Island) homeland. The language of St Pauls is Brokan (Torres Strait Creole), though many people are bilingual in Kala Lagaw Ya. After the forced repatriation of Pacific Islander labourers, following the federal government's introduction of a restrictive immigration policy in 1904, the Queensland Government set aside a reserve on Moa's eastern shore for those who had married Torres Strait Islanders and Aboriginal people. In 1908 the Anglican Church began developing St Pauls Mission. St Pauls Community is located on the northern end of Moa (Banks Island).

These distinct cultural and geographical characteristics define the Near Western Islands as a region and people. The material listed in this section of the guide includes unpublished material such as letters, photographs, paintings and diaries referring to the Islands and people. Please note that individuals who were interviewed or photographed may not have been in the Near Western Island cluster when recorded.

Each Island has been categorized with related material which can be viewed in more detail by clicking on the related link to the Library's catalogue record. If a photo is included a link will also be provided to it's catalogue record.

Badu - Mulgrave Island


  • Papers of Alan Marshall, 1903-1982 (MS404)
    This manuscript contains two items of significance relating to the Island of Badu. The first being a picture of a young girl on the Island.
    The second significance to Badu Island is a written recording of a story by Levi Madua retelling a story about Tutu Islanders (Eastern Islanders) and their Chief Kaigua war raid on Badu.


Oral History

Mabuiag - Jervis Island


Moa - Banks Island

St Pauls Village


  • Papers of Dennis Newie, 1981-2009 (MS Acc11.082)
    This manuscript comprises photographs and ephemera documenting the activities of the National Aboriginal and Islander Skills Development Association (NAISDA) Dance College, Aboriginal Islander Dance Theatre (AIDT) and other dance groups with which Dennis Newie danced and/or acted as choreographer, or unrelated dance groups which performed at events where he was present, between 1981 and 2009.


Oral History

  • Dennis Newie interviewed by Lee Christofis
    This oral history of Dennis Newie is digitised and available online. Newie Discusses his career as a dancer and growing up in a large Torres Strait Islander family. His influence of dance in his family but also his dancing career within Australia and globally. The development and establishment of dances and songs for his Dance Company Arparka group and St Pauls community.

Special collection materials can be accessed through our Special Collections Reading Room located on the first floor of the National Library

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