Torres Strait: Constructed Land- and Seascapes

Murray Islands, Torres Strait. Photo: Garrick Hitchcock.

Torres Strait, the narrow, shallow waterway separating Australia and New Guinea, was formed by rising sea levels following the last Ice Age, some 8,000 years ago.

The people who subsequently settled the islands of Torres Strait – the Torres Strait Islanders – went on to develop highly specialised, maritime-focused lifeways, underpinned by the use of large double-outrigger canoes and hunting of dugong and marine turtles.

This project explores how Islanders have engaged over deep time with their environments – their islands and seas – and in so doing created unique cultural land- and seascapes.

A particular focus is on the knowledge and techniques associated with gardening and arboriculture, mariculture, and marine hunting, fishing and collecting, as well as the preservation of plant and animal foods. This includes manipulation of terrestrial and intertidal zones to create more productive environments aimed at enhancing food availability and security.

Professor Ian McNiven and Dr Garrick Hitchcock (Monash)