Queensland Places - Yam Island - Iama

Yam Island – Iama and the nearby island of Tudu both experienced an early meeting with Europeans, with history recording a chance contact with the famous early navigator and New South Wales Governor, William Bligh.  Bligh was travelling through the area during the long and important voyage we now generally refer to as the second bread fruit voyage.  This voyage followed Bligh’s exoneration by the court martial inquiry into the loss of the HMS Bounty.  After this inquiry had ended, Bligh, chose to remain with the British Navy, a decision which was to pay off.  He was given another posting, from 1791 to 1793, as master and commander of HMS Providence and in company with HMS Assistant, under the command of Nathaniel Portlock, he was to again undertake to transport breadfruit from Tahiti to the West Indies.

It was during this so called second bread fruit voyage that Bligh came into contact with islanders from Yam Island–Iama as well as seeing the nearby island of Tudu.  It is also recorded that some inhabitants of Yam Island–Iama actually went aboard the Providence, with Bligh having stopped long enough to view the area, take bearings and note the surrounding islands.  During this pause in his voyage, Bligh named the nearby island of Tudu, Warrior Island in honour of those island inhabitants he met.

Following this significant early encounter with Europeans, the London Missionary Society provided the next major contact, when its missionaries arrived in the area, in the early 1870s.  At this time, the London Missionary Society established a mission station on the island’s western end which, in turn, encouraged the development of a permanent settlement around the mission.  At around the same time, Yam Island-Iama was home to a pearling station, an important industry in terms of on-going employment for the island.

Yam Island-Iama also saw significant activity during World War Two, with many Yam Island-Iama men enlisting in the army and forming a significant part of the Torres Strait Light Infantry Division.

These photographs show different views of the island.

Brian Randall - Queensland Places Coordinator, State Library of Queensland

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