Mornington Island

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Mornington
Native name:
Kunhanhaa
Mornington island.jpg
Mornington Island from space, September 1991
Mornington is located in Queensland
Mornington
Mornington
Geography
LocationGulf of Carpentaria
CoordinatesCoordinates: 16°30′S 139°30′E / 16.500°S 139.500°E / -16.500; 139.500
ArchipelagoWellesley Islands
Total islands22
Area1,002 km2 (387 sq mi)
Highest elevation150 m (490 ft)
Highest pointunnamed
Administration
Australia
StateQueensland
Local Government AreaShire of Mornington
Largest settlementGununa
Demographics
Population1007 (2001)
Pop. density1/km2 (3/sq mi)
Ethnic groupsAboriginal Australians

Mornington Island, also known as Kunhanhaa, is an island in the Gulf of Carpentaria in the Shire of Mornington, Queensland, Australia. It is the northernmost and largest of 22 islands that form the Wellesley Islands group. The largest town, Gununa, is in the south-western part of the island.

The Lardil people are the traditional owners of the island, but there are also Kaiadilt people, who were relocated from nearby Bentinck Island, as well as people of other nations on the island. The Mornington Island Mission operated from 1914 until 1978, when it was taken over by the Queensland Government, which had proclaimed the islands an Aboriginal reserve in 1905. The Mirndiyan Gununa Aboriginal Corporation owns and manages an art centre, MIArt, and dance troupe, the Mornington Island Dancers.

Geography[edit]

Mornington Island within the Wellesley Islands
Location of Wellesley Islands in Australia

The general topography of the island, which lies on the eastern (Queensland) side of the Gulf of Carpentaria,[1] is flat with the maximum elevation of 150 metres (490 ft). The island is fringed by mangrove forests and contains 10 estuaries, all in near pristine condition.[2]

The Manowar and Rocky Islands Important Bird Area lies about 40 kilometres (25 mi) to the northwest of Mornington.[3]

The town of Gununa is located on the south-western end of the island[4] overlooking the Appel Channel (16°40′55″S 139°11′31″E / 16.682°S 139.192°E / -16.682; 139.192 (Appel Channel)) which separates it from Denham Island (16°42′52″S 139°09′35″E / 16.7144°S 139.1597°E / -16.7144; 139.1597 (Denham Island)).[5][6][7].

History[edit]

Lardil (also known as Gununa, Ladil) is an Australian Aboriginal language spoken on Mornington Island and the Northern Wellesley Islands, within the local government boundaries of the Mornington Shire.[8] Kuku-Thaypan (also known as Gugu Dhayban, Kuku Taipan, Thaypan) is an Australian Aboriginal language spoken in Hann River, Laura and Musgrave River and on Mornington Island, within the local government boundaries of the Cook Shire.[9]

Lardil, who prefer to be known as Kunhanaamendaa (meaning people of Kunhanhaa),[10] is the predominant nation on Mornington Island and they are the traditional owners of the land and surrounding seas. Kaiadilt people arrived more recently (1947–8) after being relocated from nearby Bentinck Island, and more people of other nations arrived from Doomadgee Mission in 1958.[11]

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.[citation needed]

Commander Matthew Flinders named the island after Richard Wellesley, 1st Marquess Wellesley who was known when younger as the Earl of Mornington. Wesllesley had tried to have Flinders released from detention in Mauritius.[1][12]

On 22 April 1905 all of the Wellesley islands apart from Sweers Island were proclaimed as an Aboriginal reserve, under a Protector of Aborigines appointed by the Queensland Government, Protector Howard. Bleakley was the next Protector, from 1913, but did not visit the island until 1916, by which time the first missionary (Hall) had arrived (see below for mission history).[13]

Gununa Post Office opened by 1982.[14]

The Mornington Island Airport was a temporary airfield used by the RAAF and allied air forces during World War II.[citation needed]

The Mornington Island State School opened on 28 January 1975.[15]

In 1978, the Queensland government decided to take over control of both the Aurukun and Mornington Island missions.

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 12 February 2003. Severe Tropical Cyclone Harvey caused damage on the island in February, 2005.

In the 2016 census, the population was 1,143 people.The majority of the islanders are Aboriginal, The majority of the people live in the township of Gununa.[16]

Mornington Island Mission[edit]

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

The Mornington Island Mission was established in 1914 by Robert Hall, the Presbyterian assistant superintendent from Weipa Mission, who ran it until his murder in October 1917. There were also Moravian missionaries there.[17][18]

Rev. Wilson took over, serving as superintendent until about 1941; mission staff were evacuated during the Second World War. James McCarthy[19] was Superintendent from 1944 to 1948, and he imposed a strict regime of adhering to Christian customs and eroded the authority of the elders.[13] It was during this time that all of the Kaiadilt people living on nearby Bentinck Island were moved by the missionaries onto the Mornington Island Mission. The missionaries separated the children from their parents and placed them into separate dormitories for boys and girls, while their parents built humpies around the mission. It was ten years after the relocation, completed in 1948, before one of the removed Kaiadilt woman gave birth to a child who survived.[20] The final relocation of the people was spurred by the pollution of the islanders' water supply by seawater[21] after it was badly damaged by a cyclone, with the relocation assisted by the Queensland Government. It was reported that some of the people had to be "induced" to move.[11] One of those relocated by the missionaries was artist Sally Gabori (c.1924–2015), who later mapped her traditional lands in her artwork at the Mornging Island Art Centre.[20]

Belcher arrived when Taylor was superintendent, taking over as superintendent around 1952. Belcher ran a more humane administration than his predecessors, and respected the Lardil culture.[13]

Mission conditions were not as severe and restrictive as they were at the Doomadgee Mission, and by the late 1950s the practice of separating children from parents in dormitories had been abandoned, so many residents of Doomadgee moved to Mornington Island at this time.[22]

In 1978 the Queensland Government took over the administration of both Aurukun and Mornington Island mission stations.[17]

Mirndiyan Gununa Aboriginal Corporation[edit]

The Mirndiyan Gununa Aboriginal Corporation (MGAC) was founded as the Woomera Aboriginal Corporation in 1973, which was incorporated in 1983. It adopted its present name in 2009, at the same time establishing three discrete business units: MIDance, MIArt and MI Festival. The buildings were upgraded in 2010–11, including the addition of a dedicated studio for the artists.[23]

Art centre[edit]

Mornington Island Art (MIArt), owned and run by the Mirndiyan Gununa Aboriginal Corporation, is one of the oldest Indigenous Australian art centres in Australia.[24]

People of the islands started making artefacts and bark paintings using natural ochres in the 1950s, later using acrylic paint on bark, and started selling their work in the 1970s. In the mid-1980s Mornington Island Art and Craft(s) (MIAAC)[23] was established by Brett Evans,[25] with a new building and a dedicated coordinator.[23]

Some of the women from the Kaiadilt "old ladies' camp" established on Bentinck Island in the 1980s and 1990s, after moving to Mornington Island again in the 21st century, formed the Kaiadilt art movement, led by Sally Gabori (c.1924–2015).[20] Evans established MIAAC to produce and market traditional crafts, including Gabori's fine weaving. The Kaiadilt community had no two-dimensional art traditions before 2005.[25]

In 2002, Mornington Island Art and Craft became part of Woomera Aboriginal Corporation.[23]

The art centre incorporates the MIArt studio and a gallery. The artists, both men and women, work in many different mediums and represent their Lardil and Kaiadilt cultures in their artwork, and exhibitions by the artists have been mounted in Brisbane and Darwin. Two of the most well-known artists to have worked in the art centre are Sally Gabori and Dick Roughsey, and members of their families continue to work at the centre.[24] The manager of the art centre as of 2022 is John Armstrong,[26] while the gallery manager is Bereline Loogatha.[20]

The art centre works with Kaiadilt elders to help revive their language and culture.[20]

Mornington Island Dancers[edit]

There is also a significant history of performance on the island, and the Mornington Island Dancers was one of the earliest established Aboriginal performing arts groups in Australia.[23] They performed publicly in Cairns in August 1964,[27] and again in 1973 at the opening ceremony of the Sydney Opera House. Since 2009 and as of 2022 the dancers operate as a business unit of MGAC called MIDance.[23]

The dancers celebrate Lardil culture through traditional dance and song. They have toured overseas many times, including in Italy, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the United States, United Kingdom, India and Sweden.[27]

Education[edit]

Mornington Island State School is a government primary and secondary (Early Childhood-10) school for boys and girls at Lardil Street (16°39′59″S 139°10′57″E / 16.6663°S 139.1825°E / -16.6663; 139.1825 (Mornington Island State School)).[28][29] In 2018, the school had an enrolment of 263 students with 25 teachers and 14 non-teaching staff (11 full-time equivalent).[30] It includes a special education program.[28] The school works with the art centre and Kaiadilt elders to help revive their language and culture.[20]

There are no schools offering education to Year 12 on the island; non are there any nearby.[31] Distance education or boarding school would be the only options.

In literature[edit]

Writer Ernestine Hill travelled to Mornington Island and a 1933 photograph she took of the island is held by the University of Queensland's library in their Ernestine Hill collection.[32]

Mornington Island was the site of research over several decades by British anthropologist David McKnight and 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).[33]

Indigenous art of Mornington Island is described in The Heart of Everything: The art and artists of Mornington & Bentinck Islands, ed. Nicholas Evans, Louise Martin-Chew and Paul Memmott (2008).[34]

According to the Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals (2008), a group of Indigenous Mornington Island people has been communicating with wild Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins for millennia. It is said that they have "a medicine man who calls the dolphins and 'speaks' to them telepathically. By these communications he assures that the tribes' [sic] fortunes and happiness are maintained".[35][36]

Alcohol ban[edit]

In November 2003 the Government of Queensland implemented an Alcohol Management Plan to 19 Indigenous communities in Queensland where alcohol abuse was rampant, including Mornington Island.[37] The plan restricted tavern opening hours, limits sales to only light and mid-strength beers, bans takeaway alcohol sales and home brewing.[38] Riots broke out when the tough new alcohol laws were introduced.[37] A total ban on alcohol was in place across all foreshores and the 23 islands in the Wellesley, South Wellesley Islands, Forsyth and Bountiful Islands groups and Sweers Island, apart from the Sweers Island Resort.[39]

After the tavern was shut down, locals took to home brewing, and in 2017 Mornington Shire Council called for the ban to be lifted so that alcohol could be better regulated from a single legal outlet.[40] Alcohol continued to be a major social and health problem as of 2019,[41] and in 2021 the tavern was reopened, which had started to improve the community's relationship with alcohol.[42]

On 16 April 2022, after much consultation with community elders, the island introduced limited, regulated access to liquor. Residents and visitors are now permitted to have up to 4.5 l (0.99 imp gal; 1.2 US gal), or 12 cans, of low or mid-strength beer or pre-mixed spirits for consumption in the home. The strategy has been adopted in order to address the problem of harms from people creating potent strength homebrews, as well as sly grogging.[42]

Climate[edit]

Mornington Island, Queensland, Australia
Climate chart (explanation)
J
F
M
A
M
J
J
A
S
O
N
D
 
 
327
 
 
32
26
 
 
307
 
 
32
25
 
 
260
 
 
32
25
 
 
54
 
 
31
23
 
 
9
 
 
29
20
 
 
6.5
 
 
26
17
 
 
2.3
 
 
26
16
 
 
0.8
 
 
28
17
 
 
1.3
 
 
30
21
 
 
13
 
 
32
24
 
 
56
 
 
33
26
 
 
158
 
 
33
26
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm

Mornington Island experiences a tropical savanna climate (Köppen: Aw, Trewartha: Awhb), with a very hot and very humid, yet short wet season from mid-November to mid-April; and a long, warm to hot dry season from mid-April to mid-November with muggy conditions due to its coastal location.

Climate data for Mornington Island, Queensland, Australia (1914-2013 normals and extremes); 9 m AMSL
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
(90.0)
34.5
(94.1)
38.0
(100.4)
38.7
(101.7)
39.0
(102.2)
39.8
(103.6)
39.8
(103.6)
Mean maximum °C (°F) 34.5
(94.1)
34.1
(93.4)
34.0
(93.2)
33.5
(92.3)
31.8
(89.2)
29.8
(85.6)
29.3
(84.7)
30.9
(87.6)
33.0
(91.4)
34.5
(94.1)
35.3
(95.5)
35.5
(95.9)
35.5
(95.9)
Average high °C (°F) 32.2
(90.0)
31.9
(89.4)
31.9
(89.4)
31.4
(88.5)
28.8
(83.8)
25.8
(78.4)
25.8
(78.4)
27.8
(82.0)
30.4
(86.7)
32.4
(90.3)
33.3
(91.9)
33.2
(91.8)
30.4
(86.7)
Daily mean °C (°F) 28.9
(84.0)
28.7
(83.7)
28.3
(82.9)
27.3
(81.1)
24.5
(76.1)
21.5
(70.7)
21.0
(69.8)
22.5
(72.5)
25.5
(77.9)
28.1
(82.6)
29.5
(85.1)
29.7
(85.5)
26.3
(79.3)
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
(63.0)
20.6
(69.1)
23.7
(74.7)
25.7
(78.3)
26.2
(79.2)
22.1
(71.9)
Mean minimum °C (°F) 23.2
(73.8)
23.3
(73.9)
22.7
(72.9)
20.6
(69.1)
16.6
(61.9)
13.0
(55.4)
12.5
(54.5)
13.4
(56.1)
17.3
(63.1)
20.6
(69.1)
23.0
(73.4)
23.5
(74.3)
12.5
(54.5)
Record low °C (°F) 19.5
(67.1)
20.0
(68.0)
19.0
(66.2)
12.8
(55.0)
5.5
(41.9)
7.0
(44.6)
5.1
(41.2)
7.2
(45.0)
11.7
(53.1)
12.6
(54.7)
18.5
(65.3)
20.0
(68.0)
5.1
(41.2)
Average precipitation mm (inches) 326.8
(12.87)
307.0
(12.09)
260.2
(10.24)
54.0
(2.13)
9.0
(0.35)
6.5
(0.26)
2.3
(0.09)
0.8
(0.03)
1.3
(0.05)
12.7
(0.50)
55.8
(2.20)
157.7
(6.21)
1,194.1
(47.02)
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm) 13.0 11.8 10.0 3.3 0.9 0.6 0.2 0.2 0.1 0.9 3.5 7.6 52.1
Average relative humidity (%) 75.5 78.0 72.0 65.5 63.0 61.0 59.5 56.5 55.0 57.5 62.0 69.0 64.5
Average dew point °C (°F) 24.5
(76.1)
24.7
(76.5)
23.4
(74.1)
21.4
(70.5)
18.3
(64.9)
14.6
(58.3)
13.8
(56.8)
14.6
(58.3)
16.7
(62.1)
19.6
(67.3)
22.0
(71.6)
24.0
(75.2)
19.8
(67.6)
Source: Australian Bureau of Meteorology (1914-2013 normals and extremes)[43]

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Mornington Island – island in the Shire of Mornington (entry 22847)". Queensland Place Names. Queensland Government. Retrieved 29 April 2019.
  2. ^ "Estuary Assessment 2000: Basin: Mornington Island". Australian Natural Resources Atlas. Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. Archived from the original on 6 October 2009. Retrieved 29 August 2009.
  3. ^ BirdLife International. (2011). Important Bird Areas factsheet: Manowar and Rocky Islands. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org Archived 30 June 2007 at the Wayback Machine on 11/08/2011.
  4. ^ "Gununa – population centre in Shire of Mornington (entry 15097)". Queensland Place Names. Queensland Government. Retrieved 9 November 2017.
  5. ^ "Queensland Globe". State of Queensland. Retrieved 8 November 2020.
  6. ^ "Appel Channel – channel in the Shire of Mornington (entry 680)". Queensland Place Names. Queensland Government. Retrieved 9 November 2020.
  7. ^ "Denham Island – island in the Shire of Mornington (entry 9734)". Queensland Place Names. Queensland Government. Retrieved 9 November 2020.
  8. ^ CC BY icon-80x15.png This Wikipedia article incorporates CC-BY-4.0 licensed text from: "Indigenous Languages of Queensland". State Library of Queensland. State Library of Queensland. Retrieved 30 January 2020.
  9. ^ CC BY icon.svg This Wikipedia article incorporates text from Indigenous Languages map of Queensland published by the State Library of Queensland under CC-BY licence, accessed on 30 January 2020.
  10. ^ Bond, Hilary (March 2004). ‘We're the mob you should be listening to’: Aboriginal Elders talk about community-school relationships on Mornington Island (PDF) (PhD). James Cook University. Archived from the original (PDF) on 11 August 2018. Retrieved 13 October 2020.
  11. ^ a b "Mornington Island". Queensland Government. Retrieved 13 October 2020. CC-BY icon.svg Text was copied from this source, which is available under a Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) licence.
  12. ^ "Mornington Shire". Queensland Places. Centre for the Government of Queensland, University of Queensland. Archived from the original on 29 October 2014. Retrieved 29 June 2014.
  13. ^ a b c Memmott, Paul (1980). "Chapter 6: Culture Change on Mornington Island". Lardil properties of place: An ethnological study in man-environment relations (PhD). University of Queensland. pp. 237–335. doi:10.14264/uql.2014.1.
  14. ^ Premier Postal History. "Post Office List". Premier Postal Auctions. Retrieved 5 April 2018.
  15. ^ Queensland Family History Society (2010), Queensland schools past and present (Version 1.01 ed.), Queensland Family History Society, ISBN 978-1-921171-26-0
  16. ^ Australian Bureau of Statistics (2016). "2016 Census QucikStats". Archived from the original on 28 January 2019.
  17. ^ a b "Mornington Island". Calvary Presbytery. Archived from the original on 10 March 2020.
  18. ^ "Queensland Missions with German speakers". German Missionaries in Australia. Griffith University. Retrieved 11 October 2020.
  19. ^ Diaz, Amanda. "Caitlyn finds footage of her island home". NFSA. NFSA Stories: Mornington Island. Includes movie footage. Retrieved 11 October 2020.
  20. ^ a b c d e f Milton, Vanessa (19 February 2022). "Bentinck Island's 'last people' fight for their homeland after a lifetime of dispossession". ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). Retrieved 24 February 2022.
  21. ^ "Mornington Shire". Queensland Places. Centre for the Government of Queensland, University of Queensland. Retrieved 26 February 2022.
  22. ^ "Doomadgee". Queensland Government. Retrieved 10 October 2020. CC-BY icon.svg Text was copied from this source, which is available under a Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) licence.
  23. ^ a b c d e f "About". Mirndiyan Gununa Aboriginal Corporation. Retrieved 28 February 2022.
  24. ^ a b "Arts". Mirndiyan Gununa Aboriginal Corporation. 6 November 2021. Retrieved 28 February 2022.
  25. ^ a b McLean, B, Ryan, J, Mudge, L and Saines, C (2016). Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda Sally Gabori, Dulka Warngiid Land of All. Brisbane, Australia: Queensland Art Gallery, Gallery of Modern Art. ISBN 9781921503795.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  26. ^ "Art Centre Walkthrough". Mirndiyan Gununa Aboriginal Corporation. Retrieved 28 February 2022.
  27. ^ a b "Dancers". Mirndiyan Gununa Aboriginal Corporation. 16 August 2020. Retrieved 28 February 2022.
  28. ^ a b "State and non-state school details". Queensland Government. 9 July 2018. Archived from the original on 21 November 2018. Retrieved 21 November 2018.
  29. ^ "Mornington Island State School". Retrieved 21 November 2018.
  30. ^ "ACARA School Profile 2018". Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. Retrieved 28 January 2020.
  31. ^ "Queensland Globe". State of Queensland. Retrieved 12 November 2019.
  32. ^ "Mornington Island Mission, 1933". UQ eSpace. Retrieved 11 October 2020.
  33. ^ Worsley, Peter (28 June 2006). "David McKnight". The Guardian.
  34. ^ Evans, Nicholas; Martin-Chew, Louise; Memmott, Paul (2008). The Heart of Everything: The Art and Artists of Mornington & Bentinck Islands. McCulloch & McCulloch Australian Art Books. ISBN 978-0-9804494-1-9. Retrieved 11 October 2020.
  35. ^ Bernd Würsig B.. William Perrin W.. Würsig B.. Thewissen M. G. J.. 2008. Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals. 2nd Edition. pp.488. ISBN 9780123735539. Academic Press. Retrieved on March 03, 2017
  36. ^ "Folklore and Legends (marine mammals)". Archived from the original on 19 May 2016. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
  37. ^ a b Ian Townsend (1 December 2003). "Riot on Mornington Island over alcohol bans". PM (ABC Radio). Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Archived from the original on 10 November 2012. Retrieved 31 August 2009.
  38. ^ Margaret Wenham (28 December 2007). "Eight charged with Christmas rampage". The Courier Mail. Queensland Newspapers. Archived from the original on 28 December 2007. Retrieved 31 August 2009.
  39. ^ "Mornington Island". Queensland Government. 10 June 2021. Retrieved 28 February 2022. CC-BY icon.svg Text was copied from this source, which is available under a Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) licence.
  40. ^ Murray, Lucy (6 August 2017). "Mornington Island community wants alcohol ban lifted to end home-brew epidemic". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 11 October 2020.
  41. ^ "Mount Isa: Further search warrants conducted on Mornington Island". Queensland Police. 25 September 2019. Retrieved 11 October 2020.
  42. ^ a b Pengilley, Victoria (16 April 2022). "Alcohol ban on Mornington Island ends after 20 years as authorities curb the scourge of home brew". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 18 April 2022.
  43. ^ "Mornington Island, QLD Climate (1914-2013 normals and extremes)". Australian Bureau of Meteorology. Retrieved 26 May 2022.
  44. ^ "Biography - Dick (Goobalathaldin) Roughsey". Indigenous Australia. Retrieved 11 October 2020.
  45. ^ "Charlie Inspires a New Generation". lions.com.au. Retrieved 27 October 2021.

External links[edit]