About Kiwirrkurra

Kiwirrkurra is located in the “tali” (sandhill) country of the Gibson Desert, to the south west of Lake McKay. The community is located within the Shire of East Pilbara but the closest neighbouring community is Walungurru (Kintore) Aboriginal Community located 100km west in NT. It has been described as the most remote community in Australia. All Kiwirrkurra residents are Pintupi speaking people however many have close family ties with the residents of other Ngaanaytjarra communities. Kiwirrkurra Community became affiliated with the Ngaanyatjarra Council in 1988.

Many of the elder Kiwirrkurra residents experienced their first contact with non-Indigenous persons during the Homeland Movement of the 1950’s and early 1960’s. During this time many Pintupi taken by Native Patrol Officers to Papunya, a government settlement in the Northern Territory, several hundred kilometres from their homelands. In the 1970’s Walungurru (Kintore) was established while allow many to move closer to their homelands. In 1982 a Pintupi outstation was built where Kiwirrkurra now lies, to facilitate the Pintupi people’s desire to return and live on traditional land. After the first bore was drilled and equipped in 1984, residents came to live permanently in Kiwirrkurra. A point of note regarding Kiwirrkurra is the ‘Lost Nomads’ or ‘Pintupi Nine’ which was a family of nine Pintupi that had lived a nomadic life moving from waterhole to waterhole, living without any contact with Western society until they entered the community to be reunited with their family in Oct 1984.

It is a rather unfortunate accident of history that when the first truck with housing materials turned up at Kiwirrkurra, its contents were unloaded in a small clay pan. Rudimentary drainage systems coped with the problem for some years but when particularly heavy rains fell in 2001 the small desert community was flooded. The residents of Kiwirrkurra were evacuated to a temporary refuge in Alice Springs and then to a former sheep station in the Goldfields region. Many Kiwirrkurra residents travelled to stay with relatives throughout the region during the evacuation. Eventually repairs and renovations were made and residents were able to return to the community in August 2002.

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