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Mer

Mer Island (also known as Murray Island), is a small island of volcanic origin, populated by the Melanesian Meriam people and situated in the eastern section of Torres Strait.

The people of Murray Island speak Torres Strait Creole and Meriam and the island has a population of around 450 people.

There are eight Mer (Meriam) tribes:

  • Komet
  • Zagareb
  • Meuram
  • Magaram
  • Geuram
  • Peibre
  • Meriam-Samsep
  • Piadram
  • Dauer Meriam.

The organisation of the island is based on the traditional laws of boundary and ownership.

Mer Island is a basaltic island formed from an extinct volcano, which was last active over a million years ago when the Indo-Australian Plate slid over the East Australia hotspot.

The island rises to a plateau 80m above sea level. The highest point of the island is the 230m Gelam Paser, the western end of the volcano crater. The island has red fertile soil and is covered in dense vegetation.

Westerners began to settle on the island in 1872 when the London Missionary Society founded a missionary school there.

Murray Island's most famous resident was trade unionist, Eddie Mabo, whose decision to sue the Queensland government in order to secure ownership of his land, which had been removed from his ancestors by the British colonial powers using the terra nullius legal concept. This ultimately led to the High Court of Australia, on appeal from the Supreme Court of the State of Queensland, issue the "Mabo decision" to finally recognise Mabo's rights on his land on 3 June 1992. However, Mabo himself died a few months before the decision.

This decision continues to have ramifications for Australia.

Language group

The language of Mer is the Meriam Mer.

Population

450 residents

Facilities

  • Airport
  • Regional council office
  • State school (years Pre-prep to year 7), with large sporting oval
  • Health centre with two permanent nurses
  • Ibis grocery store
  • Large facilities from old school
  • Motel
  • Water plant reservoirs / filtration collection wells
  • Power station
  • Barge ramp

Transportation

TSIRC operational hours

Monday to Friday, 9am – 12noon, 1pm - 4pm

Contact: Miss Vera Havili

Email: vera.havili@tsirc.qld.gov.au

Phone: 07 4083 2600

Visitor approval

Accommodation

Mer Gedkem Le TSI Corporation RNTBC

Contact: Mrs Melora Noah

Email: accounts@mergedkemle.org

Phone: 0467 676 918

All approved visiting guests are required to sign the Council’s visitor book to document the visit for record purposes.

Shops

IBIS Shop

Operating Hours: Monday to Friday, 9am - 5:30pm

Saturday, 9am - 12noon

Contact: Miss Teafo Salee, Manager

Phone: 07 4069 4045

Art Centre

Contact: Mr Segar Passi

Email: segarpassi@yahoo.com.au

Community social groups

  • Meriam Kosker
  • Meriam Kimiar,
  • Meriam Elders
  • Kirgir Omaskir
  • Neguam Dance Troupe

Religions

  • St James Anglican Church
  • Church of the Living God
  • Universal World Church
  • Body and Heartfelt Salvation Church
  • Australian Christian Church (AOG)
  • Revelation of Jesus Christ Church

Gazetted holidays

Gazetted holidays for Mer Island Community include:

  • 14 June 2017 - Dauar, Waier Observance Festival
  • 15 August 2017 - Yam Festival

Public access facilities

  • Community Hall
  • Opnor Bakir Atabur Canteen
  • Seugiz Gazebo
  • Mad Gazebo