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A Side Trip to a Tiwi Island

Separated from the northern mainland by a narrow strait are the Tiwi Islands, Bathurst and Melville. The Tiwi culture is distinct from that of the Aborigines, and one of the main reasons for visiting is to see their distinctive art style firsthand. Tiwi Tours (tel. 1300/721 365 in Australia, or 08/8923 6523; www.aussieadventure.com.au) takes small groups on day tours to Bathurst Island. (Melville Island is closed to the public.) The trip includes visits to two art centers, where you can watch artists at work and buy their paintings, carvings, silk-screen printing, and basketwork at "island prices" -- usually up to a third cheaper than buying the same item in Darwin. You will learn the history of the islands, have tea with some Tiwi women and see them making baskets, and visit a mock burial site. The tour, which runs Monday to Friday (except public holidays) from March to November, costs A$465 adults and A$418 children aged 3 to 15, including the round-trip light-plane airfare from Darwin (which takes about 30 min.) and lunch.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.