Alcohol is one of the leading causes of social, legal and health problems for Indigenous Australians. This has led to significant legal, policy and administrative regulation of alcohol in communities where Australian Indigenous people live. Alcohol management plans (AMPs) have emerged as a central device in government policies for reducing alcohol-related harms among Indigenous Australians. This paper reports on the preliminary phases of an ARC-funded (DP160103192), multi-sited study of AMPs in northern Australia. The study includes a descriptive epidemiological analysis of the three case studies. The research focuses on the issues encountered when AMPs are developed in discrete, small-scale geographical locations, as each community (or town) has little ability to manage alcohol in the wider region in which it is embedded. This is a problem because open towns, such as Alice Springs and Kununurra, serve as sales and distribution hubs of alcohol into smaller townships, surrounding areas and remote regions; a highly localised AMP in a small community cannot limit the flow of alcohol from such centres into their own locales. The paper concludes with a discussion of how the research findings may be used to inform policy to develop more effective, inclusive AMPs, particularly in Indigenous community contexts.