Winds of Zenadth

As soon as I got over the scare of nearly tipping over into the Torres Strait with Tommo and Paul I hopped back onto the ferry to Thursday Island. Or Waiben, as it is called in local language.Welcome to Thursday Island


Last time I didn’t get the chance to actually explore the island much so I needed to get back for a closer inspection.

Torres Strait

I wandered up to the fort on Green Hill,

Green Hill Fort

It is originally build between  1891-1893 as part of Australia’s defence against a possible Russian invasion.

But that never happened.

So in WWII it has been used as a signals and wireless station and later, up till 1993 it was used as a weather station.

Now it’s a nice spot to take in the view over TI and the surrounding islands.

View over TI & Torres Strait

But the main reason I wanted to visit TI was a rumour I heard about a festival.

I couldn’t find any information about it, so I figured I better go and check it out.

With no campgrounds and all four hotels on the 3.5sq km island fully booked I decided to give couch surfing another try.

Brian replied I’m welcome to crash at his couch for a few nights.


Not only does he live smack bang in the middle of town, he also works in the Northern most hotel in Australia, the Torres Hotel.

the Torres Hotel

Always good for a beer, and a laugh.

After 3 years on the Island, where his grandmother grew up, he knows a bit about local culture and custom.

And about the ‘Winds of Zenadth Cultural Festival’

Winds of Zenadth

This celebration of Torres Strait culture is held every other year.

The festival brings together people from the 18 inhabited (out of over 200) islands in the Torres Strait.


Bringinh people together

Out here dance is one of the major forms of creative expression.

More Dance


Elaborate costumes,


songs in local language,


Singing Lady

and the use of handheld instruments, headdresses and masks,


are unique to island dancing and Torres Strait culture.

The festival lasts for four days and dance teams from different communities and islands perform.

passed down the generations

Each dance tells a story and the dances are passed down through the generations.

young boy

But there are also modern variants. Like the dance that mimicked a diesel engine on a fishing boat.

Then there was the parade.

At the given time Brian and I where waiting in an empty street.

About 1.5hours later a few more people started to show up.

And eventually the parade arrived as well.


Apparently 2 hours late isn’t too bad on island time.

Torres Strait Islander

And Aboriginal

I really love the colourful dress,


Everybody joined in…

Dog in Island shirt

And although I didn’t understand a lot of songs and speeches that were held in local language I felt privileged to be able to be here at this time.


We have thrown the soil to the

four winds, sucked the fresh

clean water into our mouths

and blown it out, our offering to

the four directions. The conch

shell sounds and the drums

are beating. Our companies are

ready and strong. Our Elders

are in the front row. This is how

it should be. Strike the ground

hard all our people, in whichever

way you are gifted to do.”

Kerry ArabenaElder

More Pictures of the festival Here

9 thoughts on “Winds of Zenadth

  1. We hebben je eventjes ontmoet op een camping in Te Anau in Nw-Zeeland. We hebben enorm veel bewondering voor je lef en doorzettingsvermogen. Onze droom heb jij omgezet in daden. Geweldig. We genieten elke keer weer van je verhalen en je prachtige foto’s. Veel succes.

    vroljke groetjes, Jans en ankie Koops.

  2. Wat een mooi verhaal en werkelijk prachtige foto’s! Je hebt (weer) iets unieks meegemaakt. Groetjes uit Breda, Gerdo & Wilma

  3. The Torres Strait Island looks so idyllic and inviting. I admire your gumption to cycle around parts of the world most of us will never see. As I looked through your photos, the dancers in masks and raffia skirts reminded me of the masquerades I saw back in Nigeria. Great post! What led you to Torres Strait?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s