An isolated bauxite mining town on the westy coast of Cape York.
Location: 838 km north of Cairns.
With a population of around 3,500, Weipa is the largest community on
Cape York Peninsula. It exists because of the enormous bauxite deposits
along the coast. The Port of Weipa is mainly involved in the export of
bauxite and cattle.
The present town was constructed mainly by Comalco (now called Rio
Tinto Alcan), a large aluminium company, which began making trial
shipments of bauxite to Japan in 1962.
The mouth of the Pennefather River is an attractive area for camping
and there are many white sand beaches on the coast south of the river.
There are no public amenities at these locations, so the camper should
The coasts in the Weipa area was the first stretch of Australian
coastline ever discovered explored by Europeans. The Dutch explorer
Willem Jansz, sailing the Duyfken in 1606, first sighted land near
where Weipa stands today. The crew of the Duyfken made the first
recorded contact between Aboriginal and European people at the
Pennefather River about 50 km north of Weipa.
The northern point of Albatross Bay is named Duyfken Point in honour
of the expedition. The mouth of the Pennefather River is an attractive
area for camping and there are many white sand beaches on the coast
south of the river. There are no public amenities at these locations.
Bauxite mine tours
Tours provide a comprehensive insight into the whole process of
mining at Weipa. The tour includes the bauxite operations, and provides
visitors with a chance to safely see the enormous mining equipment,
trucks, locomotives and other plant employed at Weipa. Times, sosts,
bookings, advice on suitable clothing and so on, are available at Town
View Larger Map
Weipa Aboriginal shell mounds
The Weipa shell mounds are made up of around 200 000 tonnes of
shells which seem to have been placed in the area about 800 years ago.
How and why they got there is a mystery.
Uningan Nature Reserve
Bird Watching and Nature Walks have been developed in this reserve,
which covers an area of over 2,800 hectares and includes habitats such
as open woodland, palm forests and mangroves. 9km of walking tracks
have been marked and several footbridges constructed over creeks in the
area. Data has been gathered on the flora, fauna and Aboriginal
knowledge of the area. Features such as the large shell mounds
(middens) and canoe trees have been signposted.
Missionaries arrived in the area in 1891 and a decade later the
geologist CFV Jackson noted the presence of bauxite. There was little
interest in the mineral at the time - the gold discoveries at the
Wenlock River were attracting much more attention. It wasn't until 1955
that the pure bauxite deposits of the area began to be exploited. Weipa
is now the largest bauxite mine in the world. The known deposits are
likely to last for another 250 years at the present rate of extraction.
The town was built by Comalco and the Queensland government in the
early 1960s and the port of Weipa was officially opened in 1962.
Origin of name: of Aboriginal origin, it is the name of the locality given by the Yupangati people.