About Aurukun


Aurukun is located on the far west coast of Cape York at the mouth of 3 rivers: the Archer, Watson and Ward. It is approximately 200 km south of Weipa along the Peninsula Developmental Road and, dependent upon weather and road conditions, the trip between Aurukun and Weipa is about 3 hours.  


There are a number of recognised languages spoken within the Aurukun area. The dialects spoken in Aurukun are inherited by way of clan birth and relationship to country. Wik Muungkan [Wick Mun-kin] is the predominant dialect used by the Wik and Wik Way people. Most community members will speak and have full competence in 4 or 5 languages. According to the 2011 Australian Bureau of Statistics Census data, 96.2% of the Indigenous population in Aurukun spoke a form of Indigenous language at home. The use of an interpreter may be necessary for complainants, witnesses, victims and offenders who come before the court.

History of Aurukun

Aurukun facts and figures

For 2011 and 2016 census information on education, employment, income, housing figures and more for Aurukun, build a statistical profile on Know your community.

Native title information

Search for native title information on the National Native Title Tribunal website.

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Visiting Aurukun

Getting to Aurukun

Aurukun is extremely isolated and the area often experiences road closures for up to 6 months per year due to flooding. Road conditions are often difficult, especially during the wet season when large pot holes will appear and roads can be washed out or completely inundated by water. During the dry season, fires can also restrict vehicle access along roads. Skytrans operates flights to Aurukun. Check the Skytrans website for schedules and bookings.

Quarantine restrictions

Quarantine regulations apply in this area. For more information visit:

Seasonal considerations

The Gulf of Carpentaria's wet season can start from as early as November and sometimes lasts through to May. Before arranging any travel to the community during this time, it is important to contact the Aurukun Shire Council to see if travel is possible.

Alcohol restrictions

Aurukun has an Alcohol Management Plan, which includes alcohol restrictions and a ban on homebrew and homebrew equipment.

Local government

Search the local government directory for information about the Aurukun Shire Council.

Who to contact if you have questions about your visit

Sorry business

The death of an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person impacts on the whole community. There are 3 stages following a death in the Aurukun community to ensure respect to the deceased. The house where the deceased lived will remain closed until the family conducts a house opening ceremony. The closing is followed by a funeral, which will be attended by a large proportion of the community. The funeral is followed by a house opening, which is usually celebrated with traditional dancing and a smoke ceremony. When referring to the deceased, the term ‘Wal Wal’ is used as a sign of respect. Anyone who shares the name of the person that has passed away is referred to as tarpich [tar-pitch]. For example, if the person who has passed is known as Craig, all people who are called Craig will now be referred to as tarpich. Business can be conducted during periods of mourning. However, the community considers it good practice for government representatives and other visitors be introduced to the family of the deceased. The community is generally encouraging of meetings that were scheduled to occur. Essential services such as policing, child safety, health, education and justice continue throughout this period.

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Cape York Welfare Reform

Aurukun is a Cape York Welfare Reform site. The Cape York Welfare Reform Local Program Office is responsible for the coordination and implementation of the reforms. 

As a part of the Cape York Welfare Reform, the Families Responsibilities Commission (FRC) was established under the Family Responsibilities Commission Act 2008 (Qld). Key functions of the FRC are to safeguard and restore child safety, school attendance, lawful behaviour and responsible tenancy. Aurukun has its own Local Commissioners.

Commissioners hold conferences with community members who have been reported to the FRC for the following reasons:

  • failing to enrol and send children to school
  • coming to the attention of the Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women for a child safety matter
  • being convicted of an offence in the Magistrates Court
  • failing to remedy a breach of a tenancy agreement.

The FRC is able to refer local residents who come before them to support services or for income management of Centrelink benefits.

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Community justice group

The role of the Community Justice Group (CJG) is to ensure that clients of the service are given appropriate cultural support for court matters. Members of the CJG work closely with a number of justice agencies including the Queensland Magistrates Court, Queensland Corrective Services, Queensland Police Service and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service. The CJG assists in supporting the community’s understanding of and access to the justice system by working in conjunction with courts, the JP Magistrates Program, Shire Council by-laws and victim support agencies.

Key ways in which the Aurukun CJG is able to assist the community and the courts include:

  • participation in community consultations relevant to the CJG's role within the criminal justice sector
  • preparation and presentation of written and oral sentencing submissions to the court
  • defendant support and referral (including court support)
  • victime support and referral (including court support)
  • support for debtors wishing to access the State Penalties and Enforcement Registry

For more information about your local Community Justice Group:

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Community services

Use the Queensland Government's one place service directory to find up-to-date contact information for local support services including:

  • domestic and family violence support
  • drug and alcohol services
  • men's and women's groups
  • accident, emergency and medical services

A list of community services is also available on the Aurukun Shire Council website.

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More information

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