Gununa — Mornington Island


Mornington Shire incorporates twenty-one of the islands of the Wellesley group in the Gulf of Carpentaria. The Mornington Shire covers an area of 1227 square kilometres with Mornington Island itself estimated to be about 700 square kilometres in area.

Mornington Island is the largest island in the group. The main township is Gununa which houses the majority of the population, however, in recent times traditional owners have been returning to their homelands in other areas of Mornington Island and outlying islands, including Denham, Forsyth and Bentinck Islands, re-establishing outstations.


The original people of Mornington Island are the Lardil. They are the largest tribal group and formerly occupied the North Wellesley Islands (Mornington, Sydney and Wallaby). Yangkal tribal lands consist of the islands between Mornington and the mainland. The Kaiadilt tribal group occupied the South Wellesley Islands (Bentinck and Sweers).

Following the establishment of a mission (1914), and during the "protection era", children and people from tribes on Mainland Australia and other islands were removed from their homes and brought to Mornington.

The Lardil people had little contact with the outside world before the early 1900's. Pre-contact the Lardil people lived in family groups of 15 to 20 people who owned a portion of the land and water.

For social and ceremonial purposes, they were divided into the windward (south and east) and Leeward (north and west) moieties. Totems or Dreamings, further describe tribal sub-sections. Totems are hereditary, and the killing or eating of the totem is restricted.

Thuwathu, the Rainbow Serpent, is believed to have made all the landmarks and food and water sources. The Lardil received their songs and dances from the dreamtime.

What is now the township of Gununa began in 1914 when the Presbyterians sent missionaries and the Lardil and Yangkal peoples were brought together in 1948, after a tidal wave devastated the water supply, the Kaiadilt people were also brought into the mission.


Important Restrictions on the type and quantity of liquor that can be brought into various remote indigenous communities have been gradually implemented in Queensland.

Alcohol Management Plans have been developed by Community Justice Groups and contain recommendations for declaring all or part of a community area either a 'Restricted Area' and/or a 'Dry Place'.

People who live in, or are planning to visit, travel through or pass near a community which they feel may have restrictions should ensure they are aware of the laws. Bag checks can and will happen and severe fines apply if people are caught.

For detailed information by community visit the Queensland Government Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation website.


Guest House

Run by Mornington Shire Council.

(07) 4745 7200


Primary Health Care Centre

Primary health, emergency and a range of community health services.

(07) 4745 7209

Other Services

  • General store
  • State School

Mirndiyan Gununa Aboriginal Corporation (Dance/Arts)

The Mirndiyan Gununa Aboriginal Corporation have showcased the artistic excellence of Lardil and Kayadilt cultures of Mornington Island since 1973. 

Through the Mornington Island Dancers and the Mornington Island Arts, the corporation combines the message of Indigenous culture through traditional dance and contemporary art.

The community that Mirndiyan Gununa Aboriginal Corporation work within face many contemporary challenges; the most poignant being cultural maintenance. To ensure culture is preserved Mirndiyan Gununa are galvanising young people through dance and visual arts programs.

The organisation's vision is to restore a sense of pride and hope to their community.

For more information contact:

(07) 4745 7063

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