Mornington Island facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Mornington
Geography
Location Gulf of Carpentaria
Archipelago Wellesley Islands
Area 1,002 km2 (387 sq mi)
Highest elevation 150 m (490 ft)
Administration
Australia
Demographics
Population 1007
Pop. density 1 /km2 (3 /sq mi)

Mornington Island is the northernmost of 22 islands that form the Wellesley Islands group. The island is in the Gulf of Carpentaria 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. Mornington is the largest of the islands.

Description

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.

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

Mornington Island Parachute Mail
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.

Gununa Post Office opened by 1892.

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

Climate

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

In literature

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.

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).

A tribe of indigenous people on the island have been communicating with wild Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins for millennium. 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’ fortunes and happiness are maintained."

Location within the Wellesley Islands


Mornington Island Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.