This paper discusses a health promotion intervention that sets out to develop local capacity to address chronic disease risk factors in a remote Australian community. Community focus groups, and researcher and community discussions, aimed to determine the community's health concerns and build a partnership for community action. The journey from conception to reality was difficult for a number of reasons that are described here. Despite these difficulties, a range of outcomes included the establishment of an organisational structure that involved a local health promotion committee as the principal decision-maker, the establishment of a grants scheme to support locally determined initiatives and the formal incorporation of a community Health Promotion Committee (HPC) that ensured the sustainability of activities beyond the funded project period. The HPC is still coordinating health promotion activities. The promotion of community ownership of health promotion activities is a complicated process, given that time, resources, expertise and community involvement require a much longer-term commitment than that currently imposed by many funding bodies.