Mornington Island is the largest and northern-most of 22 islands that make up the Wellesley Islands, which are located in the Gulf of Carpentaria. The Mornington Shire totals 1227 square kilometers, of which Mornington Island itself covers 700 square kilometers.
The island has about one thousand residents, most of whom live in the township of Gununa and most of whom are members of the Lardil and Kaiadilt Aboriginal clans.
During the early 1900s at the time of Australia’s “protection area,” children and people from tribes on the country’s mainland and area islands were removed from their homes and placed in missions on Mornington Island.
The Mornington Island Airport was an RAAF base during World War II operations.
Mornington Island is 60km by 20km. The island terrain is mostly flat, with a maximum elevation of 150 meters, and a variety of mangrove forests and 10 estuaries along the shore.
Activities (Nature and Wildlife Interest)
Fishing conditions around the island are spectacular, making it the most popular activity on the island. Because commercial fishing, with the exception of prawn trawling, is expressly forbidden, there is an abundance and variety of fish life.
Reef, sports, and estuary fishing are all available from Mornington Island.
Fish frequently caught include: Giant Trevally, Queenfish, Parott Fish, Cod, Red Emperor, Barracuda, Sweetlip, Tuna, Salmon, Cobia, and Giant Herring.
Another popular activity on the island is the cultural experience. The island has a traditional aboriginal culture, and visitors enjoy witnessing aboriginal dance, and perusing the arts and crafts markets. For example, the Muyinda Aboriginal Corporation runs an arts and crafts business from Gununa.
Other activities on the island include: swimming, bird-watching, camping, and shopping.
Birri Fishing Resort runs a luxury fishing tour from Mornington Island. The fishing resort is accessed via private airstrip. The resort provides all fishing gear, and experienced professionals lead the fishing expeditions on resort-owned boats.
To find out about other accommodation options, please contact the Mornington Shire Council.
Visitors must apply for a visitor’s permit six weeks prior to arrival. Visitors should send a request via mail, to the Mornington Shire Council.
When to do
Transportation to and from the island can be interrupted during the monsoon season.
The island is 125km north-west of Burketown, 444km from Mt Isa, 200km west of Karumba, and 700km from Cairns.
Major airlines travel to Cairns from Australian capital cities. From there, chartered flights and smaller commercial airlines operate direct routes to Mornington Island.