Formerly known as Weipa South, Napranum was established in 1898 by the Moravian missionaries on behalf of the Presbyterian church. The Protector at the time, Archibald Meston, protested against 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.
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 people were brought from Old Mapoon (when it closed) and other communities.
Bauxite was found on the reserve in the 1950s with the Comalco Act of 1958 revoking the reserve status and allowing mining to commence 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.
Napranum eventually received DOGIT status, and has its own community council.
Napranum, meaning ‘meeting place’, is located a few kilometres south-east of Weipa, on the western coast of Cape York Peninsula. Napranum is home to around 730 Indigenous people who are descended from as many as 40 different groups from around Cape York.
In the early 1990s the community became self-governing under the leadership of the Napranum Aboriginal Council through the DOGIT (Deed of Grant in Trust) Communities program. Though Napranum has experienced profound change over many years, recent history reveals a community rich in infrastructure. The community boasts a hospital, day-care centre, aged-care facility, women’s shelter, youth centre, training centre, and schools.