Tiwi Design
Tiwi Design
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78 reviews
Very good

2 contributions
Jun 2022
In Darwin for only a few days and the big brand Tiwi tour was booked out for months. Luckily, we were directed to the Tiwi Design Tour (run by the locals themselves) who managed to squeeze us in. A Welcome to Country and Intro to the culture, a walk through the settlement to the Museum, a visit to the Church from the Missionary period (the one made famous in Top End Wedding), and lunch at the Art Centre (artists, carvers, screen printing - everyone even got to screen print a T shirt to take home). And lots of terrific stuff on sale - from souvenirs to large paintings and carvings. The museum has extensive displays relating to their traditional structures and beliefs, the missionary period, WWII and their Coastwatch contributions, and, of course, football. Many famous AFL families originate there. The two and a half hour ferry trip (each way) is a bit of a drag (especially at the end of the day) and probably adds significantly to the cost. Great day, lovely people.
Written June 8, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Jayne J
Mackay, Australia2,655 contributions
Nov 2022
Travelling to Tiwi Islands is by a two and a half hour boat trip, each way, from Cullen Bay Wharf. I mention the boat trip as it is where you can talk to the locals from the community, who are friendly and knowledgeable.
On arrival, we experience the smoking ceremony and told about the significance behind this tradition. They also performed traditional tribal dances. Each tribe have a specific animal which they represent eg. shark, buffalo, horst, crocodile.
Morning tea was tasty damper served with jams.
There is a huge art shed and artwork is for sale but there is no pressure to purchase.
We did a museum tour and our excellent guide told us how they came to being.
They are sports mad, particularly AFL and there is a room dedicated to sporting trophies. The island was not spared from war either.
Onto the church where the alter is of a different kind and so traditional.
We had a boxed lunch, which was delicious.
A memento of the island is doing a screen print on either a tea towel or t-shirt. This was so much fun and a great way to end what I think is a perfect way to engage with the culture.
The cost of this trip is pricey but worth it in my opinion.
Written November 10, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Sydney, Australia338 contributions
Apr 2022 • Family
There were some great things about the Tiwi Design tour but also some that on reading other reviews, may not be acknowledged.

The trip is very, very expensive - partially understandable given that it is a bit off the beaten track and we assume (and hope) it supports the local community. So what do you get …. the boat trip (5 hours in total), lunch and morning tea, a look at the church (think Top End Wedding), a cultural story, a quick visit to the museum, one screen print, a lovely and humorous welcome ceremony and the wonderful, gentle, proud and knowledgeable Vivian. All of that is great but …. there is a lot of sitting around - just waiting. We understand Tiwi time but on the day we visited it seemed excessive. What there wasn’t and I guess we had been expecting it, was an opportunity to interact with local artists whilst they were working. It certainly wasn’t noisy with local chatter.

My favourite memory is the pride, humour and joy that Vivian spoke of his people, his island, culture and traditions.
Written April 9, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Sam M
32 contributions
Sep 2022
Thank you to the wonderful staff who shared their culture and engaged with us throughout the day. Screen printing was great fun.
The bombing of Darwin and how the Tiwi's had tried to warn them was very interesting and the Japanese landing in Tiwi.
The ferry trip is long, whilst the water view is great and I did spot 2 dolphins, 5 hours (return) I suggest taking a book or movie to watch for the trip.
On our return trip we were lucky to have many Tiwi Islanders heading back with us. Many chatted with us on the way back to Darwin, sharing even more culture.
Written September 1, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Darwin, Australia15 contributions
May 2022 • Business
An incredibly beautiful full day of exploring the Island culture of the Tiwi people and activities immersed in our countries history . The Tiwi mob are humble and friendly , The day is planned out perfectly. The art gallery, museum and Tiwi screen printing is so much fun! Lunch is yummy and bonus was the relaxing boat ride there and back. Highly recommend for locals and tourists alike.
Written June 22, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Stacy Lee Hughes
Alice Springs, Australia15 contributions
Apr 2021
What a great experience! Smoking ceremony to start the day was amazing. Staff were friendly and accommodating. The artists were generous with sharing their knowledge and showing their skills ... watching an old man carve a wooden piece was so good! Trip to the museum was interesting and informative. We bought some beautiful carvings, fabric and even screenprinted cool tees to take home!
Written May 2, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Anne J
Melbourne, Australia26 contributions
Nov 2022 • Friends
Enjoyed thai experience so much- was so looking forward to visiting the Tiwi Islands and was not disappointed. Tour guide Vivian was fantastic. Such a beautiful spot and such warm and welcoming people. Enjoyed being on Tiwi time too !
Written November 3, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Kiama, Australia2,203 contributions
Nov 2016 • Solo

Here’s the thing. I was on an independent walking-tour around WURRUMIYANGA town (aka NGIUI) on BATHURST ISLAND when I called into TIWI DESIGN.
The TIWI ISLANDS are a closed shop – to protect the indigenous character of the area outsiders need permits to venture out of WURRUMIYANGA. The very expensive cultural tours include permits but being bucks-down on a geezer’s pension I contented myself to a wander around town. In fact I was content to say I’d been to the TIWI ISLANDS.

To tell the truth, I don’t think the people at TIWI DESIGN get many independent walk-ins and were a bit unsure how to deal with me. Could I take photos? Well no – but maybe if I wait until the tour group arrives…..with the return ferry leaving in 3 hours and TIWI DESIGN likely being the last stop on the cultural tour so people don’t have to lug purchases too long, I decided forego the pics.

Reviews down page talk about practical demonstrations by local artists but no-one was arting when I called by. Not that I expected a practical demo for just me – particularly as the pretty expensive prices of stuff on display had cheap-skate me declining the attention of sales people.
The art itself was pretty okay – colourful, a good variety of traditional aboriginal and more conventional stuff, decorated wood carvings, clothing etc. However I have to say it could not match the quality and variety on display maybe 400m away at the local MUSEUM – fair enough, the museum has probably been collecting the best TIWI art, carvings etc over many years. There are also detailed displays on aboriginal culture, island history including the early missions and a lot of WW2 stuff and plenty on TIWI’S passion for AFL footy.
Here’s the good bit - admission by donation. Well worth the visit – I could have doubled the hour I spent there. The aircon was a bonus.

LOCATION – ignore TRIPADVISOR’S map – it shows the TIWI DESIGN in BATHURST TOWM, NSW, not BATHURST ISLAND NT. Go to GOOGLE MAPS and you will see TIWI DESIGN ABORIGINAL CORPORATION is in the north east corner of WURRUMIYANGA/NGIUI very close to where the ferry unloads on the beach. Look for the extended shed-like building with the prominent signs.
The MUSEUM is not marked on GOOGLE MAPS but is behind the nearby TRADITIONAL CHURCH.
If you are doing an independent trip like me, ask for a walking map on the boat. I’m sure the paid-for tours would call in at the MUSEUM – trouble is they might not allocate much time for this interesting place.

SEALINK’S MODERN TWIN HULL FERRY is spacious, fast and comfortable. The main cabin has good seating, a small canteen, big screen TV on low volume (pic dropped out mid trip), effective aircon - although I preferred the rear deck for viewing the landscape.
This aint mind blowing – both the mainland and the islands are flat and low. They also disappear mid-trip. If you are looking for a scenic cruise this won’t cut it – although ASPLEY STRAIT on the approach to WURRUMIYANGA is interesting: twists a bit, has some nice looking beaches and it’s only a km or so across to BATHURST ISlaND’S KIWI TWIN, the bigger MELVILLE ISLAND.
Return -$105adults $80geezers (yay!!!) $55kids. Th Fr Su only. One trip each day - 2.5hrs each way. Timetable online but tide dependent (can have an 8m range in this area) - changes are notified online.

CULLEN BAY is the DARWIN departure point for TIWI ferries. This is just over 3km from the CBD, has plenty of free parking and a good bus service (#14 every 40 minutes or so) Buses are timed to meet the ferry but the TIWI boat was a bit late and rather than wait 35mins I walked to my backpackers' in town - abt 30mins. I could have spent the time checking the rather nice CULLEN BAY MARINA/SHOPS/BOARDWALK and the upmarket housing/hotels in the area, but I’d done that earlier in the week.

SUM UP – if you tour town independently like me, by all means include TIWI DESIGN. But please make sure you visit the museum too.
You are more likely to be part of the cultural tour – as said, I reckon TIWI DESIGN will have more going on when you call by - and that your tour will also include the MUSEUM.

Hope some of this helps your planning, gang. Have a good TOP END visit. A great area.
Written December 27, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Antwerp, Belgium60 contributions
Mar 2015 • Couples
After a 2-hour air conditioned ferry ride from Darwin on beautiful smooth waters, we arrived to meet our guide and experience a welcoming ceremony.

We noticed immediately what makes these people so special - they have a deep, unique culture but know how to share it in a fun, convivial way. Many indigenous people communicate their culture in a super serious way - the Tiwi are on the other end of the spectrum with a "no stress, let's have fun" attitude that is still grounded in deep respect of traditions. We immediately felt welcome.

After a short tour of the town, we began our time at the art center by a visit of a very informative museum that presented the history and the major stories and rituals of the community - very important to better understand the art we would soon be discovering.

We then moved offer to the large workshop area and were offered options to paint a canvas, do a silkscreen or do ceramics.

We opted for the silk screening as this was new to us. Picking a pattern, choosing cloth and inks, learning how to apply ink - what an adventure under the expert oversight of manager Steve and the local artists. The end result (see picture) will look great back at home.

We were having so much fun that we moved the copious cold lunch to the return boat trip!

An added plus was meeting painters and sculptors on site near their works for sale. The artists are a real group of "characters", authentic and natural with great stories to share.

Listening to the artists comment on their own work was both informative and fun. Pride in what the cooperative is doing was evident as a young man nearby one of the artists we met came up and said "that's my mum." While visiting the large gallery of wood carvings, printed fabrics, paintings and ceramics attached to the center, we noted that prices here are less than half in most commercial galleries.

Few experiences merit a visit to an area on their own but in our opinion the Tiwi Island Art experience alone is a reason to travel to Darwin. The one-day tour was very good but, If you have the time, we would recommend spending 2 days there to truly absorb the local vibe.

Tiwi by Design is not a "tour" but an "experience" that is most suited to teenagers and adults who love art, like to interact with others on a direct person-to-person level and who are OK with "going with the flow" vs following a prescribed schedule.

Hats off to Sealink for organizing this exceptional experience.
Written April 7, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Stella A
Frankston, Australia4 contributions
Jul 2018 • Couples
My hubby and I experienced the highlight of our Top End holiday recently when we visited the Tiwi Islands on a Tiwi Design Tour. We loved the warmth and friendliness and great sense of humour of the local Tiwi Islanders and felt very welcomed by the smoking ceremony, dancing and singing which was all very inclusive. Kevin our informative guide was really great. His sense of humour and great story telling skills made it such a memorable day. And what a great way to finish the day with a souvenir screen print tee shirt made with the help of the artists in the workshop. We loved every minute and we highly recommend to anyone who’d like to learn about the Tiwi Island culture and people.
Written July 8, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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Tiwi Design (Bathurst Island) - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go

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