WARAKURNA (Rockhole)

Warakurna is nestled in the Rawlinson Ranges near the West Australian/Northern Territory border approximately 330klms west of Uluru. After families originally returned to their traditional lands, they settled closer to Docker River where the rockhole Warakurna was. When the community was finally established it was moved to where the Giles weather station was situated, as there was underground water to supply the community.

Contact Details

Community Address

Warakurna Community

PMB 62


Telephone Numbers

Community Office 8956 7368 Fax  8956 7367
Roadhouse 8956 7344
Store 8956 7343 Fax  8956 7277
Clinic 8956 7323
Dentist 8956 7293 Fax  8956 7323
School 8956 7684 Fax  8956 7352
Police Station 8956 7099 Fax  8956 7122
Public Phones (2)   West 8956 7306  East 8956 7324

Radio Call Sign

AMS (Alpha Mike Sierra); 9303; 5070; 6950 RFDS Alice Springs

5360 RFDS Kalgoorlie

Community Location

In the Ngaanyatjarraku Shire, Western Australia.

Warburton Ward, ATSIC Western Desert Regional Council.

At Latitude 25 degrees, 2 min, 69 sec south

Longitude 128 degrees, 17 min, 8 sec east.

In foothills of the Rawlinson Ranges.

Community Office operates on Central Standard Time.

Community Airstrip

Giles is the official name for Warakurna airstrip.

Located 5 kilometres from community, at Giles Weather Station.

Airstrip is 1600 metres, gravel, all weather, night operation.

Strip is 1750 feet above sea level.

Has non-direction beacon.

Has pilot activated runway lights.

Ngaanyatjarra Air operate regular air service from Alice Springs, Monday and Thursday.

Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) operate from Kalgoorlie as required, and for fortnightly clinics.

Road Access

Alice Springs - Warakurna 830 kilometres. Bitumen Alice Springs - Yulara. Gravel Mt Olga - Warakurna.

Warakurna - Warburton is 218 kilometres gravel. Great Central Road. Four Wheel Drive in wet conditions.

Road maintenance is the responsibility of Ngaanyatjarraku Shire.


Community Hall

  • Has musical instruments and sound equipment.


  • Two satellite dishes provide 3 TV channels.


  • Two community laundries. One located in the Women's Centre, west side of community, and one located in east side community.

Community Kitchen

  • Community kitchen provided in Women's Centre. It is being used to provide Meals on Wheels and improved child nutrition meals and school lunches.

Community Store

  • Community store is about to move into large new premises. Store manager is assisted by 4 CDEP-funded Community staff. Store is supplied by NATS from Perth on a fortnightly basis (frozen foods delivery and bulk goods delivery on alternate weeks).
  • The store has a policy of selling healthy foods and useful household electrical and white goods).

Community, Family and Women's Facilities

  • Large Women's Centre. Has kitchen, sewing, art facilities, 2 vehicles.
  • Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Ngaanyatjarra Women's Council, Alice Springs, provide funds for a part-time Women's Co-ordinator at Warakurna.
  • Community women also operate a child nutrition programme, which is part funded by a Women's Council grant and part funded by the Education Department for provision of nutritional school lunches.

Aged People's Facilities

  • Meals on Wheels are available. Women from community operate the Meals on Wheels with funds from CDEP.

Community Fire Service

  • Fire hydrants are located around community area.
  • Has trailer tank and pump.

Community Ambulance Service

  • Health Sister's clinic vehicle is fitted with stretcher racks for emergency use.

Community Emergency Service

  • RFDS Kalgoorlie or Alice Springs.
  • Community airstrip is all-weather and has pilot operated runway lights installed for night operations.

Community Mechanical Workshop/Depot

  • Community has a workshop for maintenance of community work vehicles and machinery. Employs 2 community people.
  • The Warakurna Roadhouse (community-owned) has a full motor vehicle Workshop facility and operates a fuel retail agency. Four (4) community people to be employed under CDEP Works Programme.

Community Fuel Depot

  • Community has diesel fuel storage of 14000 litres for community work vehicles. Underground tank.
  • Avgas storage of 15000 litres at airstrip is available from the Roadhouse staff by arrangement. Underground storage.

Community Housing

  • 34 community houses.
  • 10 staff houses.
  • 1 three bedroom visitors' accommodation.
  • All tenants pay rent, power costs.
  • Community has street lights.
  • All older-type cladding houses are fully insulated, lined and fitted-out internally. All are fully fitted for electrical services and plumbing facilities.

Community Recreation Facilities

  • Large football oval. Lights - which allows training and match play in cool of night. Grassed. Reticulated spraying. Well used. Popular. Oval now has 2 grand stands and a commentators box.
  • Swimming Pool 25 m x 10 m. Indoor. Is heated.
  • Basketball court. With lights. Enables training and match play in cool of evening.
  • Other facilities are pool tables and pinball machines.
  • Children's playground facilities.



  • There are 30 community members producing traditional artefacts. There are 4 artists producing high quality paintings and selling to Perth and Fremantle galleries.
  • The community is urgently looking for more artefacts sales outlets to provide income for the many community people who are regularly producing quality art and artefacts.

Community Store

  • Store Manager and partner. Employs four shop assistants. New large brick store and warehouse. Aboriginal store employees paid from CDEP.

Warakurna Roadhouse

  • Provides motel, fuel retail, caravan park, and motor vehicle workshop. Employs eight people, including 4 CDEP workers. Complex includes 3 self contained motel units, 2 back packer units, camping ground with designated camp sites.

Community Management

  • Earth moving and machinery hire business. Has backhoe, ditch witch, tractor and trailer, and 5 ton dump truck. Employs four people.


Community Management

  • The responsibility for carrying out the objects of the Warakurna Community Incorporated is vested in the Council.
  • The Council Executive consists of the chairman, liaison officer, and at least 3 members who meet as necessary to consider community matters/business.
  • An Annual General Meeting of the community must be held each year in September to consider the Council's financial report and to elect councillors.
  • Chairman, liaison officer and at least 4 members attend monthly Ngaanyatjarra Council meetings. These Council meetings are held at least once each year at individual communities.
  • Community Development Advisor (CDA) is responsible to the Community Council (Governing Committee) for the day to day management of Warakurna Community.

Community Administration Services

  • Community Development Advisor (CDA)and CDEP Project Officer manage and co-ordinate community funding, finance, assets, infrastructure, enterprises, Essential Services and employment. (Assisted by Outstations Project Officer, for Karrku).
  • The community office has a full time office manager/book-keeper's position.
  • Three (3) community people are employed in the community office.
  • Ngaanyatjarra Services, Alice Springs, provide accounting and financial management assistance to the community.

Resource Agency Assistance to Community

  • Ngaanyatjarra Services, Alice Springs: accounting, building, roadwork.
  • Ngaanyatjarra Air: regular twice weekly air service from Alice Springs.
  • Ngaanyatjarra Agency and Transport Service (NATS): provides a Perth-based buying service for the community store.
  • Ngaanyatjarra Health Service: provides a community clinic and nursing staff - 2 nursing sisters. Dental clinic, resident dentist. Mobile dental surgery.

Community Services


  • Community clinic provided by Ngaanyatjarra Health Service. There are two nursing sisters provided by Ngaanyatjarra Health Service and two Aboriginal Health Workers provided by Ngaanyatjarra Health Service.
  • Resident dentist located at Warakurna. Visits communities throughout Ngaanyatjarra Lands. Has mobile dental surgery to service all communities.
  • Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) Doctor from Kalgoorlie makes fortnightly visits to Warakurna. Does fortnightly clinics. Emergency evacuations are done by RFDS Kalgoorlie.
  • Environmental Health Officer from Alice Springs makes regular monthly inspections of the Community.

Community School Facilities 

Within the Community are:

  • Pre-primary school 15 students 1 teacher
  • Primary school 37 students 4 teachers, to Year 7
  • High school 6 students 1 teacher, to Year 12
  • An Aboriginal Liaison Officer is employed.
  • Total: 58 students 6 teachers
  • Two high school students from the Community are attending high school in Adelaide, South Australia.

Community Training Programs

  • Computer training course.
  • Stores training programme.
  • Mechanical Workshop Course
  • Two (2) trainee Essential Services Officers (ESOs) are to complete a two years' training programme which will combine hands-on community ESO experience, with formal training at Warburton TAFE College.
  • First Aid.
  • Band (music) training.

Law/Order and Justice Services

  • There is a large, newly completed community Police Post. Located five kilometers from the community, opposite the Roadhouse.
  • Police presence is currently a weekly police patrol from Laverton (750 kilometres).
  • There are no community wardens, although this is a planned future development.
  • There is an Aboriginal Liaison Officer (ALO).

Essential Services

Community Sewerage

  • Currently 32 septic systems in the community. 3 pit latrines.
  • 48 deep sewerage connections.
  • A waste water sewerage system is to be installed at Warakurna, with work commencing in 1996/97. Cost $1.6 million. Funds have been earmarked for this project.
  • Western Australian Water Authority will be the responsible Authority.
  • Community employs two CDEP Project Officers. One of them is the Karrku outstations officer. Maintenance of community sewerage (septics) is their responsibililty.
  • Community has 2 public laundries.

Community Rubbish Collection

  • The Shire of Ngaanyatjarraku provides a rubbish collection service three times a week.
  • Ngaanyatjarraku Shire Council D9 bulldozer is currently supplied for pit digging and rubbish burial.

Community Water Supply

  • 2 community bores and 1 bore at Roadhouse.
  • 20000 gallon storage.
  • 3 diesel and 1 solar pump.
  • 61 litres per minute delivery.
  • Water quality is good.
  • Water connected to all residences (38 community, 10 staff houses).
  • Essential Service Officers perform daily water monitoring.

Community Power Supply

  • Three diesel generators supply power to Warakurna.
  • 1 x 200 KVA, 1 x 100 KVA, 1 x 70 KVA.
  • 24 hour power is supplied, and power does not fluctuate.
  • 58000 litre fuel storage is available to the power house.


Warakurna is located at the western end of the majestic Rawlinson Ranges. The residents are mostly  Ngaatjatjarra speakers.   Many of them experienced their first contact with non-Aboriginals in the late 1930's with the establishment of the Warburton Mission while for other residents their first contact was in the late 1950's with the Native Patrol Officers working for the Weapons Research Establishment in Woomera, South Australia.

Native Patrol Officers were employed by the Government to move the remaining nomadic yarnangu from their country to Warburton Mission or other government settlements in the region in order to protect them from rocket debris from the “Blue Streak" research project. As a result some yarnangu from this area were taken to Warburton Mission, and a few others were taken to missions at Jigalong and Balgo in WA and to the government settlement at Papunya in NT.

The work of the Native Patrol Officers was greatly facilitated by the road construction work (including the Gunbarrell Highway) undertaken by Len Beadell who was employed by the Weapons Research Establishment. For the first time the country around the Rawlinson Ranges was opened up to mechanised transport allowing for easier access from the south, west and east. This also allowed for the establishment of the Giles Weather Station on an area excised from the Reserve in 1956 for this purpose. In 1991 this excision was handed over to the Ngaanyatjarra Council who now sub-lease it back to the Commonwealth.

By the 1960's a new government settlement was established at Docker River, just across the WA/NT border and only 100km north-east of the Giles Weather Station. Many yarnangu traditionally from the Warakurna area moved to Docker River from Papunya  to be closer to their homelands. Docker River provided an ideal base from which people could make visits during holiday periods to the many rockholes at the base of the Rawlinson Ranges.

In the early 1970's several factors, including the availability of government funding for homelands, easier road access, over-crowding at Docker River settlement and Warburton Mission, all combined to make the location of Giles Weather Station ideal for a new community. The Warakurna community became incorporated in 1976 and a member of the Ngaanyatjarra Council in 1981.