Island Fettlers


In the late 1960's, many Torres Strait Islander men made the long journey to the Pilbara in Western Australia to build railways between remote mines in the desert and ports like Port Hedland on the coast.

Over the years these Islanders created a unique community. But as the need for fettlers lessened, the community slowly dispersed and many eventually returned to the Torres Strait. Today, only a few families still remain who call the Pilbara their home and keep up Torres Strait Islander traditions and culture.

Tom Saylor was one of the first wave of island fettlers. Both he and his son Thomas return from Wickham to the islands after over 25 years to reconnect, to reconcile, and to ultimately realise just what it means to be from the Torres Strait.

Yet the world he finds isn't the same it used to be, and eventually both Tom and Thomas have to make a decision where they want to stay.


Release dates
May 13th, 2006 - Australia
World premiere at the Indigenous Arts Festival, Sydney.
G - general

[planned:] Travel information on Port Hedland, one of the larges iron ore ports in Western Australia.

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Harvard citation

Korff, J 2018, Island Fettlers, <>, retrieved 8 July 2020

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