Arriving just before 9:30 we had a bit of time to kill before the bus tour at 11:15. We found the cutural centre that had a variety of displays and a video of the history of pearl divers in the islands. That was where we first met Henry 'Seaman' Dan, pearl dividing was one of his careers. It certainly sounds like a deadly game, many of them dying from the bends. One divider explains at the end of the industry in the mid 60's they were diving to 50 fathoms, approximately 75 metres. Simply amazing.
A walk down the main street we popped into Mona's street stall and outside was sitting Seaman Dan. A lovely chap now in his 80's, very chatty, we bought his cd and biography and he greatfully signed it for us. A short walk back to the dock and it was time for the bus tour.
The tour was great, only an hour and a half but really good guide in Christine, she connected well with Griffin and Andi.
First stop was green fort, establishing in the early 1900's in response to a Russian war threat. It was built to protect the shipping channel north of Austrlia, a key channel for a lot of cargo even today. An impressive construction as well, that is now a museum. Fantastic views of the island.
While we were up there, Dad and Andi took the oppurtunity to fetch the 1 of 2 geocaches that are on the island. A bit of scrub brushing for 10 or so metres and it was found. Chalk that one up as one of the highest caches in Australia's territory.
Next it was off on a driving tour of the island. It's only 4.5 square kilometres so it didn't take long but there was lots of information to take in about the current and past communities. Interesting fact there is approximately 1000 people under the age of 18 on the island, 800 of these are schooled in the 3 schools. The total population is about 3500. Like Canberra 2/3 of these are involved in government activities in the island. If it wasn't for the government presence, Thursday Island wouldn't exist. The island is fairly poor in natural resources like water, building materials etc and most of these are gathered on neighbouring horn island and trucked/barge or piped across to TI.
We had lunch in the top pub, the highest pub in Australia. Fish and chips were order of the day. The boys were spoilt with some coke out of the can! The adults had a more hoppy refreshment.
After lunch Dad went to get the second geocache whilst the others wandered back in search for another treat from Uncle Chris, ice cream. The Geocache was found fairly easily, the ice cream unfortunately not, the kids were a little bit cranky. Before long the 2:30 departure time had come and gone and we made our way to the wharf. The wind (which TI is famous for) had picked up and it was a less smooth ride on the way home. Not enough for both Chris and Andi to catch a little shut eye though. We caught up with the couple, that had been taking their full size Kimberley Kamper with them up the telegraph track. They did everything in that, quite impressive although expensive machine ($75k), not something I would risk on the track, but with careful planning they made it through with very little damage.
When we got back we had chips and refreshments, with bouts of footy and frisbee on the beach before watching yet another lovely sunset.