Mornington Shire incorporates twenty-one of the twenty-two islands of the Wellesley Group in the Gulf of Carpentaria, in the State of Queensland. Mornington Island is the largest island in the group with the main township of Gununa housing the majority of the population. People regularly return to their traditional homelands in other parts of Mornington and outlying islands, including Bentinck and Forsyth Islands Mornington Island, some 700 square kilometres, is located 16°30’ south and 139°30’ east in the Gulf of Carpentaria, about 125kms north-west of Burketown, 200kms west of Karumba and 444kms from Mt Isa. The Shire has an area of 1,248.4 sq kms.
The climate is dry tropical with a very marked summer rainfall maximum. The median annual rainfall is approximately 800mm. When rain occurs, it is often intense with approximately 20mm per rain day. The highest daily rainfall expected to occur once a year on average is about 100mm while the daily maximum expected to return once in fifty years on average is about 300mm.
Evaporation rates are high, in the order of 2600mm annually, and monthly evaporation rates peak in October/November at around 300mm per month. The southern gulf coastline averages more than 8 hours of bright sunshine per day, which is more than any other coastal region in eastern Australia. During the cooler months of the year, winds are south-easterly to easterly whilst in the hotter months, the winds are usually from the north.
Tropical cyclones affect the area. Past records indicate that cyclones cross the coast close to Mornington Island one year in ten. Cyclones are often associated with storm surges. The maximum storm surge height predicted for Mornington Island is six metres and Gununa is built above that elevation.
Mornington Shire is subject to alcohol restrictions which apply to all visitors and residents. The importation, possession and manufacture of alcohol within the Shire boundary, including the waters of the Shire, is prohibited. This applies to vehicles, aircraft and watercraft. Searches can be conducted by the Queensland Police Service and immediate expulsion from the Community can apply. Heavy fines apply to people who contravene the restrictions, as well as other penalties such as termination of employment. For more information please visit www.liquor.qld.gov.au/Indigenous/Alcohol+Management+Plans/
However, there is the provision for alcohol to be consumed at the following two licensed premises: