Local History

Waibene, under the jurisdiction of Torres Shire Council, is also the administrative and commercial centre for the Torres Strait. Louis Van Torres was the first non-indigenous sailor to navigate the Torres Strait followed by Captain James Cook who made claim of the area on behalf of the British Crown on what is now known as Bedanug – Possession Island.

By the 1870s, Waibene had become a port that served the fishery of beche-de-mer, mother-of-pearl and trochus shells, the Pacific traders and the Christian missionaries throughout the Torres Strait. The administration of the Torres Strait was moved from Somerset to Waibene in 1877 with the centre of administration in far-away Brisbane.

In 1903 the Torres Shire Council was formed to provide a more direct and effective local government administration over the Torres Strait area. In the last twenty years, Island and Aboriginal Community Councils have been granted jurisdiction over their own communities.

Now the Torres Shire Council administers only those areas not controlled by Community Councils, which is mainly Waibene, Ngurupai, Muralug and a small part of NPA.