The Tiwi Islands are part of Australia's Northern Territory, 100 km north of Darwin where the Arafura Sea joins the Timor Sea. They comprise Melville Island and Bathurst Island, with a combined area of 8,320 square kilometres (3,212 sq mi).
To save a girl from having to live unwillingly with an old man to whom she had been promised at birth, Father Gsell, the missionary who established a settlement at Nguiu, was inspired to 'buy' her. Thereafter he 'bought' 150 wives and, through their education and marriage to young men who accepted the Christian concept of marriage, he spread his religion. However he knew the Tiwi too well to entertain illusions. After thirty years he did not claim a single adult convert.