Our calm anchorage is a scant distance from Thursday Island but the constant trade winds and wicked tidal stream would make a dinghy ride across the channel a wet and bumpy proposition. We wisely took the local ferry over on Friday to check out the place, have lunch and play tourists.
Thursday is much smaller than Horn Island but as the administrative center of the Torres Strait district it’s way more populous and feels almost urban.
We started at Green Hill Fort, a late 19th defense against a possible Russian invasion. During WWII it was recommissioned as a signal station, and used post war as a weather station until the 90s. Today it serves only as a panoramic lookout over the Torres Strait and our likely route westward when we leave Australia.
No self respecting boater passes up either a chandlery or a hardware store and we all cruised every aisle picking up last minute must-haves from the surprisingly well stocked Miter 10.
Lunch was a $10 burger and fries special — they even had a veg burger! — in what appeared to be a local hangout.
We walked the Main Street and went in nearly every shop, knowing it would probably be our last retail opportunity in Australia, then visited the church that was built in 1893 to memorialize the 134 lives lost when the S.S. Quetta sank in 1890 near Mount Adolphus Island nearby.
I can’t see I’ve ever seen either a wall hanging or a stained glass window depicting a disaster at sea, but they’ve got them here.
The rest of the afternoon we spent slow-walking every aisle of the supermarket doing the mental calculus of cost-space-desire on every product on the shelves. We’re provisioned to the gills but there are always items you wish you’d bought more of. Trying to anticipate what those will be is a fool’s errand but that doesn’t mean we don’t try.