A re-telling of stories and songs from Myths and legends of the Torres Strait

Roy & Harriet OberRoy and Harriet Ober during production of The story of Biw

The State Library of Queensland is the proud home of the Margaret Lawrie Collection of Torres Strait Islands material.  This rich collection documents the history, languages and culture of Torres Strait Islander peoples through writings, photographs and artworks.  Much of the material was the basis of the books: Myths and Legends of the Torres Strait and Tales of the Torres Strait.

ReTold is a collection of online stories gathered in partnership with Torres Strait Islander language speakers and community members living in mainland Queensland.

Gelam (Ian Kaddy)

Gelam artwork by Ian Kaddy

Members from Queensland's Torres Strait Islander community remember, reclaim and retell some of the selected stories and songs from the publication Myths and Legends of the Torres Strait by Margaret Lawrie.

Co-ordinated by Leonora Adidi, a linguist of Saibai descent, the stories are retold from the perspective of the story owners.  They bring to life the regional, cultural and linguistic diversity of the Torres Strait Islands.  ReTold connects Torres Strait Islander communities to their traditional stories as well as making these stories accessible to everyone.

The collection also includes a digital story about the Culture Love workshop - a children's workshop held on mabiuag Island in April 2010.  The workshop invited local children to retell traditional stories in their dialect.


Walter Waria re-tells 'Wawa,' from 'Myths and legends of the Torres Strait' by Margaret Lawrie.

Culture Love Children's Workshop

During literacy through the arts, writer and illustrator workshops in 2008, children at the Torres Strait Island Regional Council's Indigenous Knowledge Centre (IKC) on Mabuiag Island were inspired to retell the myth 'Amipuru' from Margaret Lawrie's work, 'Myths and Legends of Torres Strait.'


Torres Strait creation story, 'Gelam,' is retold by Fr Elemo Tapim and sung by Fr Elemo and Mrs Renah Tapim.


The story of 'Biw,' in which Biw, the mangrove pod, and Githalay, the crab trigger, create a chain of events that end in the sea becoming salty, is retold by Harriet Ober from Badu island.


The story of Doker, retold by Isaac Charlie from Badu island, in which a man catches a turtle, travels around Badu, finds a beautiful waterhole and has an unfortunate accident.


Eric Babia from Mabuiag island retells the story of Wameyal, in which children's love and obsession with playing string games land them into trouble with their parents.


In this story, retold by Matilda Bani of Mabuiag island, a dutiful wife and her children become outcasts after a shaving incident with her angry husband.

Library membership

Become an SLQ member now to access our services, collections and facilities.

Library Shop online

Discover an eclectic range of books, gifts, reproduction prints and more at the Library Shop.