Elcho Island Mission was opened by the Methodist Overseas Mission in 1942 on Elcho Island when missionaries and residents of Milingimbi Mission moved to Elcho Island to take refuge from Japanese bombing during World War II. A school was operating at the Mission in the 1950s. It appears the Mission did not operate Mission dormitories. Self government was established at Elcho Island Mission in the mid 1970s and it ceased to operate as a Mission. The town located at the Mission site is known as Galiwin'ku.
The Elcho Island Mission was first established by the Methodist Missionary Society of Australasia in 1921.The Island is 550 km north-east of Darwin and is a part of the Wessel Island Group. In 1923 the Naphtha Petroleum Company began drilling for oil on the island and the Mission was closed. A new Mission was then established at Milingimbi Island.
In 1942 the Elcho Island Mission was re-opened when many people from Milingimbi Mission transferred to Elcho Island to take refuge from Japanese bombing during World War II.
In 1950 a review report listed the numbers of people at the Elcho Island Mission:
The population of the Elcho Island sphere of influence is about 400 inclluding 180 children; of these the more or less regular visitors to the Mission are 85 men, 90 women, 160 children…the average number of children on the Mission for January-February who were receiving Child Endowment was about 80.
At this time a school was run at the Mission by Mrs Shepherdson, the wife of the Superintendent, and Sister Langdon. Neither were trained teachers. By 1959, however, a trained teacher was working at the school and the population of the Mission was stated to include 236 adults and 209 children.
It appears that the Mission did not operate any Mission dormitories.
In the mid 1970s self government was established at Elcho Island Mission and it ceased to operate as a Mission. The town located at the Mission site is known as Galiwin'ku and in 2008 it became part of the East Arnhem Shire Council.
Sources used to compile this entry: 'East Arnhem Shire - Galiwin'ku', in East Arnhem Shire Council, East Arnhem Shire Council, 2012, http://www.eastarnhem.nt.gov.au/galiwinku/; Baker, Gwenda, 'We just cry for our country': 'The boycott' and the Goulburn Islanders, Australian Historical Studies, vol. 41, 10 September 2010, 302-318 pp, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10314611003636523; NAA: A431, 1950/2752 Goulburn & Elcho Island Mission Review Reports - Northern Territory 1922-1952; NAA: E763, R2 Copies of review inspection reports - Hermannsberg [Hermannsburg], Oenpelli, Yirrkala, Elcho Island, Groote Eylandt, Finke River, Roper River, Milingimbi and Port Keats 1959.
Prepared by: Gary George and Karen George
Created: 7 February 2011, Last modified: 8 May 2014