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Badu; Badu Island
Badu Island (Landsat).png
A satellite image of Badu Island
Badu; Badu Island is located in Queensland
Badu; Badu Island
Badu; Badu Island
Location in Queensland
Population 813 (2016 census)
 • Density 8.050/km2 (20.85/sq mi)
Postcode(s) 4875
Area 101.0 km2 (39.0 sq mi)
Time zone AEST (UTC+10:00)
LGA(s) Torres Strait Island Region
State electorate(s) Cook
Federal Division(s) Leichhardt

Badu or Badu Island (Mulgrave Island), pronounced ['ba:du:] in English, in Kala Lagaw Ya Badhu [bad̪u], is an island in the Torres Strait 60 kilometres (37 mi) north of Thursday Island, Queensland, Australia. Badu Island is also a locality in the Torres Strait Island Region, and Wakaid is the only town, located on the south-east coast. This island is one of the Torres Strait Islands. The language of Badu is Kala Lagaw Ya.

The Mura Badulgal (Torres Strait Islanders) Corporation administers land on behalf of the Badulgal people. The Badulgal people’s ownership of Badu and surrounding islands in the Torres Strait was recognised in a native title determination on 1 February 2014, when the Queensland Government handed over to the Badhulgal traditional owners freehold title to 9,836 hectares (24,310 acres) of land.

In the 2016 census, Badu Island had a population of 813 people.


Warfare, farming, fishing, canoe building, house building, turtle and dugong hunting and a host of other activities were the main occupations of Badu men until the 1870s. However, headhunting ceased with the adoption of Christianity.

Pearlers established bases on the island during the 1870s and by the early 1880s the islanders were becoming dependent on wages earned as lugger crew. At the same time, the first missionaries arrived. At the peak of the shell industry in the late 1950s, the Badu fleet of 13 boats employed a workforce of 200 providing work for many men, even from other islands as well. Once the shell trade declined, many people moved to the mainland for work

Badu Island State School opened on 29 January 1905.

On 1 February 2014 the Queensland Government handed over to the Badulgal traditional owners freehold title to 10,000 hectares of land on Badu Island, ending a struggle for recognition dating back to 1939. The title deed was handed over by Mr David Kempton, Assistant Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, to Badu Elder Lily Ahmat at a ceremony on the island.


Infrastructure on Badu Island consists of:

  • Badhulgaw Kuthinaw Mudh Art Centre
  • Airport
  • Regional Council Office
  • State School (Years 1 to 7)
  • Health Centre with permanent doctor
  • Two grocery stores
  • Indigenous Knowledge Centre in Nona Street, operated by the Torres Strait Island Regional Council
  • Post Office
  • Centrelink Agency
  • Football Field
  • Motel
  • J&J Supermarket Locally Owned

A number of other locally owned run businesses are in operation at Badu including live seafood exports.

Notable people

Notable people who are from or who have lived on Badu Island include:

  • Ethel May Eliza Zahel (1877–1951), teacher and public servant.
  • Tanu Nona (1902-1980), pearler and politician
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