Blackstone (Papulankutja)

Blackstone is situated between the western and great Victorian deserts. The home of the Papulankutja aboriginal community. A picturesque place at the foot of the Blackstone Ranges, it has a plentiful ground water supply and many trees. Blackstone is like a small oasis where bush tuckers are in plentiful supply and the aboriginal people can retain their culture and speak their native language (Ngaanyatjarra) without the elements of a western culture. No alcohol or drugs are permitted and it's remote location has enabled this to be enforced.

An important source of income for the community is the sale of art and craft. Most art and crafts are in keeping with their lifestyle and are done outside around the campfire on the ground. They include woodwork, grass baskets, jewelry made from nuts and seeds, and acrylic painting on canvas.

Contact Details

Community Address

Blackstone Ranges

PMB 53, via Alice Springs NT 0872

Telephone Number

Office 8956 7712
Clinic 8956 7675
Store 8956 7765
Workshop  8956 7596
School  8956 7646
Tjukayirla R/House 08 9037 1108
Tjukayirla Public Ph  08 9037 1109

Facsimile Number

8956 7603

Community Location

Papulankutja is located within the Ngaanyatjarraku Shire Council, Western Australia.

Latitude:  25 degrees, 59.16 mins south

Longitude:  128 degrees, 17.20 mins east (G.P.S.)

Community uses Central Standard Time.

Community Airstrip

Blackstone airstrip located 2 km north of community. 1700 metres, all weather, night operations with kerosene flares and solar flares. Ngaanyatjarra Air operate regular weekly service and charters as necessary.

Road Access:

200 kms gravel road to Warburton or 800 kms (300 kms gravel) to Alice Springs via Ayers Rock.


Hall/Community Centre

  • The community has a large community hall venue for movies, roller skating, video games and pool tables.

Satellite Communication

  • Satellite dish provides TV to community.

Community Library

  • School has a library facility for students.

Community Laundry

  • There is a community laundry.

Community Toilets/Ablutions

  • Public toilets are available in the hall, swimming pool complex and the Women's Centre.

Community Kitchen

  • HACC programme provides Meals on Wheels and home care. Staffed by supervisor and two community women.

Community Store

  • Large supermarket. Employs manager and local staff. Is supplied by NATS in Perth. Re-supply delivery each fortnight. Operates fuel agency for diesel and Avgas sales.

Community Women's Centre

  • Centre for arts and crafts activities and is a meeting place for women's social gatherings.

Aged People's Facilities

  • HACC programme supervisor and two assistants provide Meals on Wheels and home care to all community aged people.

Community Family Services

Education Department have Parent-Teachers Association.

  • HACC provide aged care service to Community.
  • Child care operates 2 hours per day.

Community Fire Service

  • Several fire hydrants around Community.

Community Ambulance Service

  • Health Clinic Toyota has stretcher fittings.

Community Emergency Evacuation

  • The Royal Flying Doctor Service Kalgoorlie operates as necessary to Papulankutja airstrip. Airstrip is opened for night emergency operations with kerosene flares and solar flares. Also services Wingellina and Mt Davies/Kalka Communities for night evacuations.

Community Mechanical Workshop/Depot

  • The workshop services privately-owned and community vehicles and also does outside work. Workshop is a self-supporting, successful enterprise.

Community Fuel Depot

Operated by Community Store.

  • Has underground storage for 12000 litres diesel.
  • Has underground storage for 12000 litres Avgas.


Papulanktuja Artists

There are a large number of artists in the community who produce artefacts and art of high quality. Contact the manager of the Papulankuja Artists on 08 8956 7586 for details or their website

Community Enterprises

  • "BLACKSTONE ENTERPRISES" (Community Store)
  • "TJUKAYIRLA ROADHOUSE PTY LTD" (Roadhouse) on the Great Central Road.
  • The Store and Workshop provide employment to community members, under CDEP.


Community Management

  • The elected community Chairman chairs meetings of the Council Committee. Meetings are held as necessary. Any five councillors form a quorum to consider community business and make decisions.

Community Administration Services

  • Under the direction of the Council Committee, the Community Development Advisor (CDA) manages the Community office and co-ordinates day to day activities of the Community.
  • A CDEP Project Officer co-ordinates the Community CDEP Programme and supervises Essential Services.
  • Ngaanyatjarra Services, Alice Springs, provide accounting and financial services, and building and maintenance services for the community.

Resource Agency Assistance To Community

  • Ngaanyatjarra Services, based in Alice Springs, provides accounting, cash and general management services to the community.
  • Ngaanyatjarra Health Services provides a resident nurse and supplies for the community Health Clinic.
  • Ngaanyatjarra Agency and Transport Service (NATS), based in Perth, provides a buying/wholesale/transport service to the community store.
  • Ngaanyatjarra Air provides a regular airline service (Mondays and Thursdays) and charter service which links Papulankutja to Alice Springs, the other communities, and (Thursdays) to Kalgoorlie.
  • Shire of Ngaanyatjarraku Environmental Health & Building surveyor, makes monthly inspections.

Community Services


Health Services are provided by Ngaanyatjarra Health Services, Alice Springs.

The Community Health Clinic is staffed by resident the nurse. There are two Aboriginal health workers. Flying Doctor visits occur every two weeks for clinic work while also carrying out emergency evacuations as necessary. Clinic vehicle used as necessary for ambulance work.

Community Dog Health Programme carried out by visiting vet.

Community School Facilities

  • Community education facilities are:-
  • 1 Government pre-primary 1 teacher
  • 1 Government primary 1 teacher
  • 1 Government post-primary 1 teacher

Community Recreational Facilities

  • Indoor swimming pool. Exercise gymnasium in Pool complex.
  • Football oval. Grassed. Irrigated. Fitted with lights.
  • Basketball Oval. Lights.
  • Community Hall.
  • Roller skating.
  • Movies.
  • Video games.
  • Pool tables
  • Football an important activity. Community team in area competition.

Law/Order And Justice

Weekly police patrol visits by vehicle from Laverton, 750 ks to the West. Community meetings and discussions deal with issues as they arise.

Full Time Employment

  • 77 community people employed on CDEP
  • 3 community people employed on CDEP in Women's Centre.
  • 2 community people employed by Health Service.
  • 1 community Liaison Officer.

Employment Programmes

  • The community CDEP programme is the major employment organisation in the community.
  • Community store and community garage/workshop (attracts higher rate of CDEP).

Essential Services

Community Sewerage

  • 31 septic tanks (all houses connected)
  • No sewerage system. Feasibility study has been carried out for Western Australian Water Authority (WAWA) for installation of waste water system.
  • Reports available at Community Office. *
  • Future construction of full sewerage, waste water effluent for Papulankutja, when funds are available.
  • Public toilets at Community Hall/Swimming Pool/Women's Centre.
  • * ("Papulankutja Waste Water Review" Report No. CW 3457 L1 Contract No. OS40716AD - December 1995. H.G.M.)

Community Rubbish Collection

The CDEP programme collects community rubbish on a weekly basis.

  • Rubbish is dumped in open pit.
  • Pit serviced by Ngaanyatjarraku Shire Council (dig and fill).
  • Sims Metal have removed all old car bodies from the community.

Community Water Supply

  • 4 bores supply town water to all residences.
  • 2 other bores supply water for swimming pool and football oval.
  • Water is of good quality.
  • The Community Essential Services Officer monitors water service.
  • Water Authority of Western Australia carries out checks on a quarterly or as necessary basis. *
  • 3 electric pumps provide power for the water supply.
  • 1 diesel pump on standby for emergency.

Community Power Supply

  • 3 diesel generators. 1 x 150 KVA, 1 x 100 KVA, 1 x 70 KVA.
  • 24 hour power supply.
  • 52000 litre diesel fuel storage.


Papulankutja or Blackstone is located north of the Blackstone Ranges, half way between Mantamaru and Irrunytju. Its residents are both Ngaanyatjarra and Pitjantjatjara. The area around Blackstone contains some of the most significant sacred sites in the region.

Most of the Pitjantjatjara residents grew up at Ernabella Mission and the Ngaanyatjarra residents at Warburton Mission. As late as the 1960's Native Patrol Officers were bringing in people from this region to the Warburton Mission. They were also reporting large numbers of people travelling from Ernabella Mission in SA through to the mining camp at Irrunytju and along the range country through Blackstone, Jameson and Warburton. The patrol officers were particularly concerned about these travellers during the dry season when the waterholes were becoming depleted. They reported their concerns to the Native Welfare Department who provided funding to establish bores and windmills along this travelling route.

One of these bores was established in the vicinity of the Blackstone community. In the 1950's Southwestern Mining had their main headquarters and camp at Tollu, just south of the Blackstone Range. When the mining camp was abandoned, Yarnangu transported the remaining camp materials to the bore at Blackstone and thence began a new community. The community became incorporated in 1976 and a member of the Ngaanyatjarra Council in 1981.