Known as Waiben to its native inhabitants, this tiny island, about 45km off the tip of Cape York Peninsula, is 2200km from Brisbane as the crow flies. Today it’s Queensland’s most far-flung administrative centre, distinguished by its beautiful harbour, which used to be the home to a fleet of more than 150 pearl luggers. It’s still the base of the famed Torres Strait Pilot Service - a band of intrepid mariners who know these tricky water like the backs of their hands. Islanders representing the Malays, Polynesians, Chinese and Japanese far outnumber the Europeans at this gorgeous little spot, which has a sensational winter climate. The fishing up here is magnificent, increasingly drawing sports fisherfolk from around the globe, despite its remoteness and paucity of first-class facilities. At the turn of the 20th century Thursday Island was a significant pearling centre and, had the feared Russian invasion eventuated in 1898, the invaders would have been greeted with a salvo from the 6-inch guns which still peer out over the ocean approach from Green Hill Fort. The old fort tunnels and storerooms are now filled with the displays of the Torrest Strait Museum. You can fly to TI from Cairns or catch a Peddel's ferry from Banaga on Cape Yorke's Punsand Bay.