Historical background

Seven years after the Mapoon mission was established, the Presbyterian Church, again with the assistance of the Moravians, began the Weipa mission – in 1898.

The mission was located about 40km upstream on the Embley River. However, because of concerns about the prevalence of malaria at this location, the mission was moved to its present site at Jessica Point in 1932. It is about 12 kilometres south of the present town of Weipa. It was first know as the Weipa South Mission but during the 1960s local leaders gave the community the name Napranum.

The mission was administered by the Presbyterian Church until 1966 when the church agreed for the mission to be taken over by the state government. This was accepted by the local community at the time and was part of negotiations taking place between the mining company Comalco, the state government and church about the future of the community’s development and its location.

In 1955 Weipa’s vast bauxite reserves were assessed and Consolidated Zinc successfully applied for the right to mine 1000 sq miles of Aboriginal reserve lands extending north to Mapoon and south to Aurukun. Conzinc formed Comalco for the Weipa project and then formed a joint venture with the English Rio Tinto Zinc (Conzinc Riotinto of Australia – CRA) in 1962. Rio Tinto took over Alcan in 2007 and the Alcan lease that extends north from Weipa to the Mapoon Reserve.

According to the 2016 census, Napranum had a population of 957.


The St Barnabas Uniting Church in Napranum has an active congregation with a membership of about 200 people. It has committed leaders and elders. It has a very active Kids Club and youth group.

Rev Tevita Niurua is the minister in placement.

The church plays an important role in the community. Over many years it has supported women and children who have been victims of domestic violence and established a women’s support and healing centre. It conducts education programs about prevention of domestic violence. It supports the Community Justice Group and Men’s group.