Mornington Island is the largest of the North Wellesley Islands located in the Gulf of Carpentaria. The town of Gunana (a Lardil word) was founded in 1914 and is the primary residence of the majority of the Shire’s population.
Mornington Island is located about 125kms north-west of Burketown, 200kms west of Karumba, and 444kms from Mt Isa. Mornington Shire incorporates twenty-one of the twenty-two islands and has an area of 1,248.4 square kilometers.
The Wellesley Islands are remnants of the mainland now submerged by the syncline that formed the Gulf of Carpentaria and are essentially flat platforms with little relief. There are substantial areas of intertidal flats and fringing reefs associated with most Islands. After the end of the Ice Age, approximately 6,500 years ago, rising sea levels reached their current height. Before this change, the Wellesley Islands formed a peninsula that was part of the Carpentaria mainland.
Before traveling / relocating to Mornington Shire, take the time to read the below information which will help make your stay more enjoyable.
Getting Here and Getting Around
REX airlines fly five days a week to Mornington Island from Cairns and Mt Isa.
Weather & Cyclones
Mornington Island has two seasons, Wet and Dry.
The Wet season (Dec-May) can start early in November and can bring heavy rains and cyclones throughout the season. During this time, conditions can be very humid and hot, with beautiful electrical storms common.
The Dry Season (May – Nov) is considered ideal weather by most. It can bring high wind gusts up to 40km/hr lowering the temperatures, so it is advisable to bring some warm clothes as there are days and weeks when the temperatures fall below 20°C (brrrrr).
Cyclones can occur anytime through the Wet Season and into the early months of the Dry. It is imperative that you listen to all cyclone watches and warnings, and adhere to any requests to prepare. This includes having a cyclone kit up to date and packed.
Familiarise yourself with the Bureau of Meteorology website and social media pages to keep track of any storms which may be building in our region. Visit www.bom.gov.au for more information.
Cultural Awareness Training
Are you’re visiting Mornington Island, or relocating there for work?
The Mornington Island Cultural Awareness Program was developed in 2007 as an interactive information session for visitors to Mornington Island.
Mornington Shire Council subsequently endorsed this program as mandatory for all visitors working or providing a service on Mornington Island and for Mirndiyan Gununa (Mornington Island Arts and Culture Centre) to deliver the program.
As it is an interactive program it is an opportunity for visitors to ask questions regarding cultural protocols, current services delivered on the Island and any general information you would like to know. Make a booking and pay on Eventbrite – link on https://www.facebook.com/morningtonisland/
If you have any further enquires please call John on 0418 224 953
Communication, Internet & Television
Mornington Island is serviced by the Telstra Network. If you use Optus, you will need to bring your own Telstra modem/dongle to connect to WiFi. Interruptions can occur and in the evenings internet connections can be slower due to high demands.
TIP: If you subscribe to Netflix or have other subscriptions that you stream on the internet, you may consider downloading these files, before you arrive on Mornington Island due to the slow internet bandwidth connections.
Free to Air television is available through Imparja which services remote eastern and central Australia.
Carpentaria Freight offers a weekly barge service to Mornington Island, Sweers Island and Bentinck Island via Kurumba (with a fleet of trucks travelling directly between Cairns and Kurumba). Many of the islands residents receive goods, including large grocery orders, via the barge. They have a depot in Cairns to assist with customers freight which can be coordinated from Cairns, Brisbane and Mt Isa to the island. This is NOT a passenger barge. For more information contact them directly.
If you are considering bringing a private or work vehicle to Mornington, you will need to contact Carpentaria Freight to arrange barge transport from Karumba.
There are very limited shopping outlets on Mornington Island, with the offerings being a supermarket, butcher, bakery and variety store.
A supermarket operates 6 days a week (closed Sunday) and offers a range of fresh produce and grocery items. The selection can be reduced in comparison to other regional areas, so it is recommended to consider bringing your own food if you have special dietary requirements. Stock is dependent on the barge so there may be times where stock levels are low whilst awaiting the barge arrival.
Mon – Sat: 9am – 12pm / 1pm – 4pm
Lela Murrin Kiosk
The Kiosk is located on Mission Road and offers a large selection of fast food, fresh sandwiches, salads and café options such as takeaway coffee and a variety of cakes. Kiosk accepts EFTPOS and Cash.
Kuba Werne Cafe
A kiosk is attached to the supermarket and provides daily hot meal specials, salads, sandwiches, hot snacks, pies & pastries.
Opening Hours: TBC
Gununamanda Variety Store
A variety store (attached to the supermarket) offers a range of items to assist with your day to day living in Gununa. You can find cooking and kitchen appliances, home repairs and gardening tools, a selection of clothes, and the all-important fishing supplies and tackle. If they don’t have what you’re looking for ask one of the friendly staff for assistance in ordering it in.
Visit their Facebook page for more information:
Fresh bread is baked daily at the local bakery which is operated by Council. Products are sold at the Gununamanda Supermarket.
Dragons Den Butcher
Dragons Den Butcher provides all of your fresh meat and poultry needs. The butcher can cater to bulk and special orders if required.
Preparing and eating healthy meals is made easy on Mornington Island as the general store stocks quality fruits, vegetables, other products. The local butcher serves quality range of meats and the kiosk stocks healthy meal options.
Alternatively, Coles Online provides a remote delivery service, if you want to order special dietary types of groceries. The location for the delivery is Wellesley Islands. Further information can be found at online.
Otherwise, speak to the General Store Manager about special orders.
Banking & Financial Services
Mornington Island does not have a banking service. It is recommended you arrange to have internet banking and direct debits for bills etc set up before you arrive. The general store, kiosk, and butchers all have EFTPOS facilities to purchase goods.
There are ATM’s located at the Council Office and General Store to withdraw cash. Please note, these ATMs can empty very quickly. Council can also do third-party banking and EFTs for a fee.
The gym is located behind the Kiosk. Users are responsible for keeping it in a clean and tidy state and are asked to report any problems to Council.
Organise your membership and key deposit with Council once you arrive.
The waters surrounding Mornington Island are habited by saltwater crocodiles and swimming is not advised. This includes allowing your dogs to enter the water.
Fishing from the jetty is allowed however caution is recommended as shark, crocodile and sea snakes have been sighted.
Mornington Shire is a designated ‘Restricted Area’ under an Alcohol Management Plan.
The plan prohibits the access to, possession and consumption of alcohol in the region. Heavy penalties apply for anyone caught with or consuming alcohol in the Shire.
The Mornington Island restricted area is the Mornington Shire including all public and private places. This includes all foreshores and the 23 islands in the Wellesley, South Wellesley, Forsythe and Bountiful Island groups and Sweers Island.
Sweers Island Resort is the only licensed premise in the restricted area of Mornington Island. The resort is licensed to sell alcohol to residents and their guests only.
No alcohol or homebrew and homebrew equipment are allowed in restricted areas. It is an offense to drink in a public place anywhere in Queensland.
For more information visit the DATSIP website.