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Melville Island

Melville Island is Australia’s second largest island after Tasmania. There is little infrastructure on the island, and is not open to the public for tourism, except on an organised tour. Separated from Bathurst Island by only two kilometres, Melville Island has a similar history. It was first sighted by Abel Tasman in 1644 on his way from Batavia. In 1818 the son of New South Wales Governor Philip Gidley King, Phillip Parker King explored the island (he named it after Viscount Melville) and was surprised to discover that the local Aboriginal people knew some Portuguese words. He deduced they had made contact with Portuguese sailors after a Portuguese ship had been wrecked nearby. Ownership of Melville Island was returned to the Tiwi people in 1978, and like Bathurst Island, it is run by the Tiwi Land Council. Milikapiti, Pirlangimpi and Paru are the main communities, which are serviced by schools, sports ovals, museums and art and craft galleries.

Melville Island

The larger of the Tiwi Islands, Melville Island lies east of Bathurst across the Apsley Strait and is home to a number of Tiwi communities.
The largest community on Melville Island is Milikapiti, formerly known as Snake Bay. Near Milikapiti are the ruins of Fort Dundas, a European settlement built in the late 19th century, that was abruptly abandoned by the British due to the Tiwis resistance to the intrusion.
Travellers especially interested in art, culture and fishing are well catered for on Melville Island. There are three main tour operators who facilitate unique experiences in these activities.
Top End Sportfishing Safaris simply offer the ‘best fishing in the Top End’.
Melville Island offers the very best in NT sportfishing and is home to some 30 species of fish, including barramundi, mangrove Jack, threadfin salmon and many more. Widely experienced guides take passengers to where the fish are biting in comfortable, fully customised boats. The fishing guides are experts in this type of fishing and will guarantee any trip is successful and extremely memorable.
Tours available range from two to eight nights and they’ll provide everything you need including five-star camp-style, airconditioned accommodation, tackle, meals and the greatest sportfishing experience of your life!
For specific tour information, call your hosts, Les and Annette, on (08) 8978 3664 or visit them on the web at
Munupi Sportsfishing Lodge offers all-inclusive guided fishing trips with airconditioned accommodation, meals, permits, return flights from Darwin to Melville Island and a range of facilities – golf course, tennis courts, swimming in naturally-fed spring pools, guided bush walks and visits to Munupi Arts.
Phone the lodge for more information on (08) 8978 3783 or visit them on the web at
Tiwi Art Network art tours invites guests to experience the unique art and culture of the Tiwi people. These tours are ideal for art collectors, art dealers and art enthusiasts.
The tour takes visitors to three Art Centres:
– Tiwi Design at Nguiu, Bathurst Island
– Jilamara at Milikapiti, Melville Island
– Munupi at Pularumpi, Melville Island
Each centre produces traditional and contemporary Tiwi art and has its own unique style. Visitors can observe and talk to artists at work and learn first-hand about the Tiwi culture, ceremony and traditional designs.
For specific tour information including rates contact the Tiwi Art Network on (08) 8941 3593, web or email
Please note Tiwi Art Network art tours are simply facilitated trips to the three art centres and the Tiwi Art Network is not a tourism tour operator.

Activites and Experiences at Melville Island

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
  • Fuel
  • Remote

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