Napranum, Queensland

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Napranum seen from Weipa
Napranum is located in Queensland
Coordinates12°41′01″S 141°53′18″E / 12.6835°S 141.8884°E / -12.6835; 141.8884Coordinates: 12°41′01″S 141°53′18″E / 12.6835°S 141.8884°E / -12.6835; 141.8884
Population957 (2016 census)[1]
 • Density0.4797/km2 (1.2424/sq mi)
Area1,995 km2 (770.3 sq mi)
LGA(s)Aboriginal Shire of Napranum
State electorate(s)Cook
Federal Division(s)Leichhardt

Napranum is a small community on the Cape York Peninsula in remote Far North Queensland. Formerly known as Weipa South, Napranum was established in 1898 by Moravian missionaries on behalf of the Presbyterian church. Napranum is now governed by a local Aboriginal council. At the 2006 census, Napranum had a population of 830.[2]


The Protector of Aborigines at the time, Archibald Meston, protested against the establishment of the mission on the grounds that the people were healthy and could adequately sustain themselves. Despite this, the mission went ahead inland near York Downs station to avoid contact with luggers who were notorious for kidnapping Aboriginal people to exploit in their diving operations.

Very restrictive legislation was enacted by the state of Queensland in 1911, giving the "Protector" exceptional powers, it stated in sections 10 and 17 that:

"The Chief Protector shall be the legal guardian of every Aborigine and half-caste child, notwithstanding that any such child has a parent or other relative living, until such child attains the age of 21 years." And, "The Chief Protector may cause any aborigine or half-caste to be kept within the boundaries of any reserve or Aboriginal institution, or be removed from one reserve or institution and kept herein."[3]

Jan Roberts notes that the only other people treated like this were criminals and the insane; the "Protector" was also given the right to confine (or expel) any such person within any reserve or Aboriginal institution, and the right to imprison any Aborigine or half-caste for 14 days if, in the Protector's judgement, they were guilty of neglect of duty, gross insubordination or wilful preaching of disobedience. It also gave powers to the police to confine Aborigines to reserves to "protect them from corruption"; this latter power was used by Comalco in 1957 to justify the removal of Weipa Aborigines.[3]

In 1932 the community had to relocate to its present site, at Jessica Point, because of malaria. At this time most of the people were Awngthim but soon different tribes and clans were brought from Old Mapoon (when the people were forcibly removed and the settlement burnt down on 15 November 1963),[4] and other communities.

In 1955 a geologist, Henry Evans (1912–1990), discovered that the red cliffs on the Aboriginal reserve, previously remarked on by the early Dutch explorers and Matthew Flinders, were actually enormous deposits of bauxite - the ore from which aluminium is made - and to a lesser extent tungsten.

The "Comalco Act of 1957" revoked the reserve status, giving the company 5,760 square km (2,270 sq mi) of Aboriginal reserve land on the west coast of the Peninsula and 5,135 square km (1,933 sq mi) on the east coast of Aboriginal-owned (though not reserve) land.[5] Mining commenced in 1960; the mission became a government settlement in 1966 with continued attempts by Comalco to relocate the whole community elsewhere. The company then built a new town for its workers on the other side of the bay. Weipa South Post Office opened on 1 December 1967 and closed in 1982.[6]

Napranum eventually received DOGIT status, and has its own community council separate from the Shire of Cook.


Napranum has the Mary Ann Coconut Library (Indigenous Knowledge Centre - IKC) at 320 Wa-Tyne Street , Weipa, it is operated by the Napranum Aboriginal Shire Council.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Australian Bureau of Statistics (27 June 2017). "Napranum (S)". 2016 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 8 December 2017. Edit this at Wikidata
  2. ^ Australian Bureau of Statistics (25 October 2007). "Napranum (L) (Urban Centre/Locality)". 2006 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 3 May 2009.
  3. ^ a b Massacres to Mining: The Colonisation of Aboriginal Australia, p. 34. Jan Roberts. 1981. Dove Communications. ISBN 0-85924-171-8.
  4. ^ Massacres to Mining: The Colonisation of Aboriginal Australia, pp. 115-116. Jan Roberts. 1981. Dove Communications. ISBN 0-85924-171-8.
  5. ^ Massacres to Mining: The Colonisation of Aboriginal Australia, p. 97. Jan Roberts. 1981. Dove Communications. ISBN 0-85924-171-8.
  6. ^ Premier Postal History. "Post Office List". Premier Postal Auctions. Retrieved 10 May 2014.
  7. ^ "Napranum (Mary Ann Coconut Library)". State Library of Queensland. Retrieved 22 January 2018.