Mornington Island

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This article is about the island in Australia. For the island in Chile, see Mornington Island (Chile).
Mornington
Mornington island.jpg
Mornington Island from space, September 1991
Mornington Island is located in Queensland
Mornington Island
Mornington Island
Location in Queensland
Geography
Location Gulf of Carpentaria
Coordinates 16°30′S 139°30′E / 16.500°S 139.500°E / -16.500; 139.500
Archipelago Wellesley Islands
Total islands 22
Area 1,002 km2 (387 sq mi)
Highest elevation 150 m (490 ft)
Highest point unnamed
Country
Australia
State  Queensland
Local Government Area Shire of Mornington
Largest city Gununa
Demographics
Population 1007 (as of 2001)
Density 1 /km2 (3 /sq mi)
Ethnic groups Aboriginal

Mornington Island is the northernmost of 22 islands that form the Wellesley Islands group. The island is located in the Gulf of Carpentaria at (16°30′S 139°30′E / 16.500°S 139.500°E / -16.500; 139.500) and is part of the Gulf Country region in the Australian state of Queensland. The Manowar and Rocky Islands Important Bird Area lies about 40 kilometres (25 mi) to the north-west.[1] Mornington is the largest of the islands.

Description[edit]

The general topography of the island is flat with the maximum elevation of 500 feet (150 metres). The island is fringed by mangrove forests and contains 10 estuaries, all in near pristine condition.[2]

The population was estimated to be 1,007 in 2001 and the majority of the citizens live in the township of Gununa. Mornington Island is included in the Shire of Mornington local government area. The majority of the islanders are Aboriginal.

Lardil are the predominant clan group on Mornington Island and are the traditional owners of the land and surrounding seas. The Kiadilt clan arrived more recently (1947) from nearby Bentinck Island, when that island's water supply was contaminated by salt after a cyclone. Recent re-building work on aboriginal housing has been undertaken by the James Fraser Foundation, a non-profit organisation in Queensland.

History[edit]

A vignette for affixing to mail for the 1943 Christmas parachute drop to Mornington Island Mission

Macassan trepangers once travelled thousands of kilometres from Sulawesi to Mornington Island and other Australian mainland destinations in search of sea cucumbers. The eastern cape of the island was named Cape Van Diemen after Anthony van Diemen. Commander Matthew Flinders named the island after Richard Wellesley, 1st Marquess Wellesley who was known as The Earl of Mornington.[3]

Gununa Post Office opened by 1892.[4]

The Mornington Island Airport was a temporary airfield used by the RAAF and allied air forces during World War II. Penile subincision was traditionally performed on the island for those wanting to learn a complex ceremonial language called Damin. In 1978, the Queensland government decided to take over control of both the Aurukun and Mornington Island Aboriginal reserves.

Cyclones routinely hit the island. In 2000 Cyclone Steve passed directly over the island. Tropical Cyclone May passed in February 1988 and Tropical Cyclone Bernie passed to the west in early 2002. Tropical Cyclone Fritz passed directly over the island on the 12 February 2003. Severe Tropical Cyclone Harvey caused damage on the island in February, 2005.

Climate[edit]

Climate data for Mornington Island (1914-present)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 38.3
(100.9)
37.6
(99.7)
37.7
(99.9)
37.3
(99.1)
34.9
(94.8)
33.6
(92.5)
32.2
(90)
34.5
(94.1)
38.0
(100.4)
38.7
(101.7)
39.0
(102.2)
39.8
(103.6)
39.8
(103.6)
Average high °C (°F) 32.2
(90)
31.9
(89.4)
31.9
(89.4)
31.4
(88.5)
28.8
(83.8)
25.8
(78.4)
25.7
(78.3)
27.7
(81.9)
30.3
(86.5)
32.3
(90.1)
33.3
(91.9)
33.2
(91.8)
30.4
(86.7)
Average low °C (°F) 25.5
(77.9)
25.4
(77.7)
24.6
(76.3)
23.2
(73.8)
20.2
(68.4)
17.1
(62.8)
16.2
(61.2)
17.2
(63)
20.6
(69.1)
23.7
(74.7)
25.7
(78.3)
26.2
(79.2)
22.1
(71.8)
Record low °C (°F) 19.5
(67.1)
20.0
(68)
19.0
(66.2)
12.8
(55)
5.5
(41.9)
7.0
(44.6)
5.1
(41.2)
7.2
(45)
11.7
(53.1)
12.6
(54.7)
18.5
(65.3)
20.0
(68)
5.1
(41.2)
Precipitation mm (inches) 326.8
(12.866)
307.0
(12.087)
260.2
(10.244)
54.0
(2.126)
9.0
(0.354)
6.5
(0.256)
2.3
(0.091)
0.8
(0.031)
1.3
(0.051)
12.7
(0.5)
55.8
(2.197)
157.7
(6.209)
1,198.7
(47.193)
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.2 mm) 15.2 14.2 12.2 4.3 1.4 0.9 0.5 0.7 0.8 1.5 4.6 9.6 65.9
Source: Bureau of Meteorology [5]

In literature[edit]

Mornington Island was the site of research over several decades by British anthropologist David McKnight, described in a series of books, People, Countries, and the Rainbow Serpent: Systems of classification among the Lardil of Mornington Island (1999), From Hunting to Drinking: The devastating effects of alcohol on an Australian Aboriginal community (2002), Going the Whiteman’s Way: Kinship and marriage among Australian Aborigines (2004) and Of Marriage, Violence and Sorcery: The quest for power in northern Queensland (2005). McKnight lamented the increasing levels of violence since the 1970s.[6]

Indigenous art of Mornington Island is described in The Heart of Everything: The art and artists of Mornington & Bentinck Islands, ed. N. Evans, L. Martin-Chew and P. Memmott (2008).

Alcohol Management Plan[edit]

In 2003 the Government of Queensland implemented an Alcohol Management Plan to 19 indigenous communities in Queensland where alcohol abuse was rampant.[7] The alcohol bans are aimed at alleviating high levels of domestic violence, child abuse and child neglect. The plan restricts tavern opening hours, limits sales to only light and mid-strength beers, bans takeaway alcohol sales and home brewing.[8] The Mornington Island community has been described as the toughest in Queensland when it comes to resisting alcohol bans.[7]

In December 2003 police reinforcements had to be sent to Mornington Island after riots broke out when tough new alcohol laws were introduced.[7] In 2008 more riots were feared after the Lelka Murrin Hotel, one of only two liquor retailers on the island, closed due to the proprietor being ill. Extra police were sent to the island to stop any unauthorised sale of alcohol and to quash any alcohol-fueled violence that may have erupted at a time when violent incidents on the island were common.[9][10]

Location within the Wellesley Islands[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ BirdLife International. (2011). Important Bird Areas factsheet: Manowar and Rocky Islands. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 11/08/2011.
  2. ^ "Estuary Assessment 2000: Basin: Mornington Island". Australian Natural Resources Atlas. Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. Retrieved 2009-08-29. 
  3. ^ "Mornington Shire". Queensland Places. Centre for the Government of Queensland, University of Queensland. Retrieved 29 June 2014. 
  4. ^ Premier Postal History. "Post Office List". Premier Postal Auctions. Retrieved 10 May 2014. 
  5. ^ "Climate Statistics for Mornington Island". Climate statistics for Australian locations. Bureau of Meteorology. Retrieved 6 April 2014. 
  6. ^ The cultural roots of aboriginal violence
  7. ^ a b c Ian Townsend (2003-12-01). "Riot on Mornington Island over alcohol bans". PM (ABC Radio). Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 2009-08-31. 
  8. ^ Margaret Wenham (2007-12-28). "Eight charged with Christmas rampage". The Courier Mail. Queensland Newspapers. Retrieved 2009-08-31. 
  9. ^ Tanya Chilcott and Steven Wardill (2008-01-25). "Island pub closure sparks riot fear". The Courier Mail. Queensland Newspapers. Retrieved 2009-08-31. 
  10. ^ Gabrielle Dunlevy (2008-01-24). "Brawling forces island pub closure". Brisbane Times. Fairfax Digital. Retrieved 2009-08-31. 

External links[edit]