If you want to experience a footy match with real passion, forget about the mainland games – head to a game with a real difference.
The Tiwi Islands Football League Grand Final takes place in the sweltering afternoon heat on a Sunday in March, and attracts visitors from Darwin and beyond, who swell the crowd for the game to nearly twice the island’s population.
The 5000-strong crowd typically cheers on both sides, in an encounter where the football is fast and furious. During the quarter breaks the field fills with young Tiwi children, the stars of the future, for your classic kick-to-kick.
The day is a celebration of all things Tiwi, including the morning Tiwi Islands Art Sale.
“A true hoot. Great footy skill and a huge communal party. The three religions here – footy, art and churchy stuff – come together in the Tiwi’s biggest day out of the year.”
– David Koch
The Tiwi Islands (Bathurst and Melville) lie 80km north of Darwin. Melville Island is Australia’s second-largest, after Tasmania. The Grand Final takes place in Nguiu (pronounced new-you), the main settlement on Bathurst Island, which is accessible by air from Darwin.
Did you know?
With more than 900 participants out of a community of over just over 2500, the Tiwi Islands can claim the highest football participation rate of any community in Australia.
How to get there
The best way to visit Bathurst Island is to take a one or two day tour with Tiwi Tours.
You must obtain permits from the Tiwi Island Land Council in order to visit the island.
Best time to go
The Tiwi Islands Football League Grand Final takes place on a Sunday in March every year. Otherwise, it’s most comfortable between April and November.
Aussie Adventure Tours operates Tiwi Tours
Tiwi Islands local government website
** This is our original 100 Things to Do Before You Die. First published in 1996. There is an updated 100 Things To Do In Australia Before you die, published in 2011.