Posted by: jkirkby8712 | February 3, 2012

Friday 3rd February 2012 – the Torres Strait Islands dramatized for TV.

An interesting new ABC drama series commenced last night titled ‘The Straits’. Part of the pre-advertising for this was produced in the form of a 4 page newspaper spread-sheet supplement under the  title again ‘The Straits’ and supposedly representing Australia’s Top End Independent News . One of the exclusive reports on the front page served as a preview I guess, of the actual series. It read like this:-

‘A special investigation by The Straits has revealed that the Montebellos, a local Cairns [in Northern Queensland] family are involved in multiple illegal activities. Using a complicated web of legitimate business as a front, the family business involves transporting drugs into Australia, and guns and exotic wildlife out, making use of ties of blood and loyalty in the Torres Strait Islands. However The Straits secret investigation reveals cracks have started to appear in this once strong family empire. Disgruntled sources close to the family have told The Straits that crime syndicate boss and family patriarch Harry Montebello has started to plan his succession which has sparked a power struggle within the family’.  The ‘article’ then continues with a bio summary of each of the family members that become a part of this power struggle. I had to tape the opening episode last night, and then watch upon my return from the radio meeting. I quite enjoyed that premiere though in my usual way, was not keen on the violence and criminal aspects which actually form the basis of the show. But it appears to be the beginning of another outstanding production by the ABC.

Interesting was the fact that the ‘newspaper supplement even included a couple of advertisements – one for what was presumably for a family controlled restaurant in Cairns – ‘The Golden Fish’ [the best Chinese food in Cairns],  and for the Montebello Croc Farm [we guarantee you’ll have a snapping good time!]

For those who might not be familiar with the geography of the Torres Strait, the following might be of interest. The Torres Strait is located in the Coral Sea between the Cape York Peninsula and the western province of Papua New Guinea, and is the northern most part of Australia.  It is approximately 150 kilometres [or 93 miles] wide at it’s narrowest extent.  The Strait was named after the Spanish navigator Luis Vaez de Torres who sailed through the region in 1606. There are 8,000 people who live on 18 of the 100 islands, coral cays, reefs and sandbanks dotted throughout the Torres Strait, and a further 42,000 live on the Australian mainland. That perhaps explains the references from time to time, when speaking of Australia’s Indigenous communities, to the term Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.   Most of the people are of Melanesian background. There are 5 traditional island clusters in the Torres Strait including two Torres Strait communities on the Northern Peninsula area of Cape York. The islands of the Torres Strait have been inhabited for at least 2,500 years, and likely, much longer.  There are two traditional languages spoken – Kala Lagua Ya in the western, central and northern islands, and Miriam Mir in the eastern islands. A third language has also developed over time – the Torres Strait creole, Yumiplatok, which is a mixture of the two traditional languages and English. This is in fact now the region’s most common language.



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