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Lying 13km southeast of the town of Weipa, Weipa Airport is served by Quantas and is the only airport on the Cape York Peninsula of northern Queensland. The eponymous town has a population of around 3,000, making it the largest community on the peninsula. Weipa Airport lies near Duyfken Point, which was the site of the first European contact with Australia when Dutch explorer Willem Janszoon landed there briefly 1606. The area around Weipa Airport was originally settled as a Presbyterian mission to convert the local Aborigines, but little Weipa boomed after the discovery of nearby aluminium deposits in the 1950s, by which point the government had stopped trying to convert Aborigines and instead begun to imprison or forcibly expel them instead. The present town and Weipa Airportwere constructed on cleared Aboriginal settlements by the mining company Comalco in order to house miners for the extensive bauxite deposits in the area. Since the first trial shipments to Japan in 1962, the bauxite mine has become the largest in the world, and workers flock from all over the country to work in the mines.
Explore the Cape York Peninsula from Weipa Airport in a Rental Car
Cape York Peninsula is an area of harsh natural beauty, with a rocky desert landscape to explore. The soil here is sandy and infertile and the population sparse and scattered: it is one of the last great wilderness areas on Earth, with just 99.6% estimated to retain its native vegetation. You need an experienced guide to really explore it to the full, but a day spent exploring the flora and fauna around Weipa is rewarding.
Drive up to the bauxite mines near Weipa Airport
The local bauxite mines are privately owned, but they’re easy to drive up and look at, and you can’t visit the town without checking them out. The Rio Tinto Alcan mine at Andoom is the largest bauxite mine in the world, and the red colour of the bauxite rock makes it look like the surface of Mars. The huge machines which strip the rock from the soil are a breathtaking sight.