The administrative centre for the shire is the township of Gununa, on Mornington Island. In 2001 the Shire had a population of 934 of which 88.2% were Aboriginal.
The shire was formed in 1978 as a result of the Queensland Government's decision to take over control of the islands from the Uniting Church. The local community sought the assistance of the Federal Government to overturn the decision. The establishment of self governance for the community under a Local Government model was the result of the ensuing discussions.