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Pormpuraaw is an Aboriginal community situated on the west coast of Cape York Peninsula approximately half way between Karumba and Weipa on the Edward River. It is 650 kilometres (400 mi) by road from Cairns. Pormpuraaw currently has a 4-man police station. According to the 2006 census, the population of the community was 600, with 536 of them being indigenous persons. Stanford cognitive psychologist, Dr. Lera Boroditsky, studied the language of the people in Pormpuraaw, Kuuk Thaayorre, due to its unique way of using cardinal directions instead of the more common 'left' and 'right' to explain direction. She explores the people's ability to always know where true North lies, as well as the effect of this directional understanding on the language. She discussed her findings on an episode of NPR's Radiolab.
Formerly known as Edward River Aboriginal Mission, Pormpuraaw was an Anglican mission established in 1938. The people included Thaayorre, Wik, Bakanh and Yir Yoront. This was the third mission to be set up in the southwestern Cape York region. In 1967 control was passed from the church to the Queensland Department of Aboriginal and Islander Affairs.
There is a State primary school which caters for children from Years 1 to 7 with classes from differing year levels combined. There is one preschool and one day care centre which is operated by an Aboriginal corporation. There is no high school or TAFE in the division.
Electricity is supplied by a generator. Electricity is paid up front via the use of power cards which are purchased from the Coffee Shop and Australia Post Post Office. Power is very expensive with an average cost of A$40 to A$45 per week when running air conditioners.
Town water is supplied by a bore and pumped into tanks. The water is of reasonable quality and high in minerals which gives it a strong flavour. Both police residences have rain water tanks that are suitable for drinking. Water pressure from both water sources is low.
Sewage is by pumping stations to settling ponds.
The Far Northern regional Health Authority operates the Pormpuraaw Primary Health Clinic which is open during business hours on Monday to Saturday and after hours for emergencies. There is no doctor or dentist within town. The Royal Flying Doctor Service attends once a week and the dentist once every two to three months. The Royal Flying Doctor will also attend for emergencies. The hospital operates with four registered nurses and four locally recruited health workers.
There are two shops within the town. One is operated six days a week and owned by the Department of Family Services. The other shop is smaller and operates on a limited basis and is owned by the Anglican Church.
Fresh fruit, vegetables and milk come in weekly via truck during the dry and barge or plane during the wet season. Prices are high compared to the cities and increase further during the wet season.
There are no clothing stores or hairdressers.
Petrol can be purchased from the council workshop during business hours. Prices are very high.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics (25 October 2007). "Pormpuraaw (L) (Urban Centre/Locality)". 2006 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 2009-07-21.