During the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the indigenous peoples of Torres Strait, northeast of mainland Australia began intermittent but sustained contact with European mariners associated with the fledgling settler-colony of New South Wales. This chapter examines how both Islanders and Europeans attempted to shift the Torres Strait maritime frontier from a violent and dysfunctional space to a nuanced economic and social space conducive to peaceful interaction and cross-cultural trade. Australian maritime frontiers have the potential to vary enormously in form given the involvement of numerous Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups and the wide range of visiting outsiders from varied cultural backgrounds and with different intentions. The 1840s saw a number of scientific surveys of Torres Strait. With these surveys came an increasing awareness by Europeans of the nuances of Islander social restrictions and the need to remain calm during tense moments.

in Colonial frontiers