Horn Island has nearly 600 residents and an area of 53 km2. There was an influx of British settlers with the gold mining in the 19th Century, followed by prosperity in the 20th century due to the pearling industry. Horn was a military base during the World War II and was heavily attacked by the Japanese. All the islanders were evacuated, but returned later.
Horn Island is the air gateway to the area, especially to the neighbouring Thursday Island. Flights are met by bus transfers and ferries.
It is well worth a short stop on Horn Island if you're flying visiting the more developed Thursday Island. But once you've visited the couple of attractions and walked along the beach you'll have done everything tourism related in less than a day.
- 1 Horn Island Airport (HID IATA). Has a small terminal, with indoor and outdoor waiting areas. There is a free phone there to contact both accommodation options, both ferry operators, and the island taxi. There is a small kiosk that sells confectionery and drinks. There are buses to the wharf that connect with flights. But apart from that the airport itself is quite remote from any civilisation on the island.
- Cairns. It's a 2 hour flight from Cairns. . Twice daily Dash-8 flights to
From Thursday Island, there are two scheduled ferry operators with regular daytime passenger services. You can take a tour of Horn and Thursday Islands from the mainland at Seisia. It's about 2km across the water to Thursday Island.
Car rental is available from the Wongai Beach Hotel, they charge $132/day plus 20c per km travelled.
- Torres Strait Heritage Museum and Art Gallery, Horn Island/Ngurubai, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. A privately owned museum with extensive war collections, photos and local history including the pearling industry. If you are genuinely interested in the history here, there is enough reading to keep you occupied for several hours. The museum is split into WWII history and island history. A good introduction to the Torres Strait Islands.
- Horn Island WWII tours. tours of WW2 sites around Horn Island (takes around 1 1/2 hours), with entry to the museum included. Minimum numbers required, so you will need to book and confirm ahead. $36, or around $70 including an asian buffet lunch,.
There are ATMs in the supermarket and the Wongai Hotel. The supermarket and the hotels both accept credit cards with no surcharge. The ferry accepts cash on board, but you can book on their website 24 hours in advance and pay by credit card.
There are very few other places to spend your money.
There is a cafe (of sorts) in the supermarket, that sells breakfast, lunch and coffee.
The Wongai Hotel serves lunch and dinner every day, with a limited range on any day, but specials depending on the day.
If you let the time go past 8pm without organising dinner, your choice will be limited to chips or peanuts from behind the bar.
There are two accommodation options on the island. Both offer motel style rooms, air conditioning, swimming pool, and are within 5 minutes walk of the wharf. The Wongai has nice gardens, with the owner an avid gardener. The attached pub is the centre of a small social scene on the island. The Gateway hosts the museum, and has an open air bar area surrounding the pool.
- 1 Gateway Torres Strait Resort, 24 Outie Street, ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 22 self-contained a/c rooms, salt water pool
- 2 Wongai Beach Hotel, 2 Wees Street, ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. 21 self-contained rooms with complimentary breakfast and bar + restaurant From $184 per night.
There is good 3G reception in all settled areas of the island and the airport. Wi-Fi is offered at the Wongai Beach hotel for a charge.
Horn Island is a hub for aviation in the Torres Strait Islands. Easiest next hop is the ferry over to Thursday Island. To head off the beaten track, get your permit from the Aboriginal Lands Council, and contact Skytrans for your flight.