Wingellina (Irrunytju)

Wingellina is very close to the Northern Territory, South Australia and Western Australian borders. It is surrounded by large granite hills. Although the hills are very high they are not steep. The surrounding lands are rocky, prickly mallee and mulga country. There are also a lot of tall gum trees in that area and the local aboriginals make carved wooden artefacts (purnu). Buyer's travel into the Ngaanyatjarra lands buying the artefacts. This community now enjoy modern facilities and even though there is a store in the community, the aboriginal people still maintain some of their traditional activities such as hunting and gathering bush tucker. Bush raisins are a very popular food that is high in Vitamin C. They are called Kampurarrpa and bush tomatoes called Pintalypa.

Contact Details

Community Address

Irrunytju Community

PMB 52


via Alice Springs NT 0872.

Contact Details

Office 8956 7998  Fax 8956 7514
Store 8956 7513 Fax 8956 7744
Media Centre 8956 7307 Fax 8956 7182
Clinic 8956 7515 Fax 8956 7553
School 8956 7533 Fax 8956 7517
Payphone (north)  8956 7534
Payphone Office 8956 7516

Radio Call Sign

6AAS - No regular skeds kept

Community Location

Wingellina Western Australian

Within Ngaanyatjarraku Shire, Western Australia,

At Latitude 26 degrees, 04.01 minutes south

Longitude 128 degrees, 55.78 minutes east.

Wingellina is 12 km south west of Surveyor General's Corner, near the junction of Northern Territory, South Australia and Western Australian borders.

Community Office operates on Central Standard time.

Community Airstrip

Wingellina (WNL) is the official name for the Irrunytju Community Airstrip.

The airstrip is located directly north of the Irrunytju Community, with a taxi strip to the parking bay immediately west of the community centre.

The single, all-weather gravel runway is 1600 metres long x 15 metres wide, and is 2200 feet above sea level.

The airstrip can be used from either end (approach bearings are 110o and 290o).

Due to rising terrain, obstructions in the aircraft circuit area Wingellina is not cleared for night emergency operations.

The airstrip parking bay currently has no refuelling.

Chart Air operate a regular air service to Irrunytju from Alice Springs each Tuesday.

Royal Flying Doctor Service operate daytime emergency medical evacuations when required.

Road Access

Alice Springs - Irrunytju 720 kms

Kalgoorlie - Irrunytju 1100 kms

Ayers Rock - Irrunytju 276 kms (via Umutju Private Road)

Ayers Rock - Irrunytju 450 kms (via Docker River)

Blackstone - Irrunytju 70 kms

Warakurna - Irrunytju 157 kms

Ngaanyatjarraku Shire maintains the major roads which link Irrunytju with Warburton and the Great Central Road.


Hall/Community Centre


Irrunytju Community is one of 3 gazetted Broadcasting to Remote Aboriginal Communities Service (BRACS) in the Ngaanyatjarra Lands. It has a well equipped radio studio, TV studio, editing suite, and is equipped to provide media training and support for other Ngaanyatjarra Communities.

The overall objectives of the BRACS project are to support the maintenance and development of Aboriginal culture and language through the use of video recording/TV and audio recording/radio.

The program is designed to provide BRACS training to CDEP media workers in all Ngaanyatjarra Lands Communities, plus Tjuntjuntjarra and Coonana.

The Media Centre is located behind the administration complex.

Satellite Communication

BRACS satellite enables TV re-broadcast of the ABC TV (Western Australia), GWN TV and Imparja TV.

Four (4) radio stations are re-broadcast to the community through the BRACS facility.

Community Library

At the community school there is a small resource library in the Administration Office.

Community Toilets/Ablutions

Toilet facilities in Community Hall and Women's Centre.

Community Kitchen

There is a purpose-designed kitchen located in the Aged Care Centre, providing pensioner meals and occasional catering for community events.

Community Store

Large community-owned store, run by the store manager.

Stocks a wide range of grocery, fresh fruit and vegetables, meat and dairy produce, hardware and clothing items.

The store receives re-supply every week, of dry goods and perishables (fresh fruit and vegetables) on alternate weeks from Ngaanyatjarra Agency & Transport Service (NATS) in Perth.

Store workers start at 9.00 am and 2.30 pm. The store doors open from 10.00 am to 12.00 pm, and 2.00 pm to 4.00 pm on weekdays, and 9.30am to 11.30 on Saturday. Half a day only on Wednesday.

The store sells diesel and Opal fuel, available during store trading hours. There is a $20 opening fee for out-of-hours fuel sales until sunset.

Community Women's Facility

Re-established Women's Centre.

Managed by Women's Program Support Worker.

Women's Centre programs include:-

Aged Care Services

  • Meals on Wheels
  • Sewing
  • Tie Dyeing
  • Fabric Painting
  • Arts and Crafts

Aged People's Facilities

The community has four (4) pensioner units.

Community Family Services

A children's centre is equipped to provide programs for children up to school age.

Staffed by CDEP workers, supported by NPY Women's Council play group trainer.

Located in the play group building south of the store.

Community Fire Service

All community buildings have appropriate fire extinguishers and a water trailer and Davey pump operated by CDEP.

Reticulated water has fire hydrants as marked on the town plan.

There is a rack of spare extinguishers kept in the CDEP shed for quick use.

Community Ambulance Service

The resident nurses troop carrier is equipped for stretcher-carrying.

Community Emergency Evacuation

Due to rising terrain around it, Wingellina (Irrunytju) airstrip is unsuited to night-flying operations.

At night, medical emergency patients must be driven 70 kms to Blackstone (Papulankutja) airstrip for evacuation by RFDS aircraft to Kalgoorlie or Alice Springs.

The community pays Blackstone an airstrip night usage fee of $85.

Community Fuel Depot

  • Located outside the community store.
  • Operated by the community store.
  • Has 16,000 litre storage for diesel - underground.
  • Has 20,000 litre storage for Opal - underground.

Community Housing

  • 29 community houses.
  • 8 staff houses.
  • All tenants pay rent and power costs.
  • All member's houses have solar hot water, electricity, septics, and evaporative air conditioning in the living room.

Community Recreational Facilities

  • The community has a football oval. Training and match play in the cool of the evening.
  • A community basketball court, fitted with lights, allows for games to be played in the cool of evening.
  • The community hall has a recreation area with a gymnasium, pool table area, band practice area and sound stage, and a video games room.
  • A Children's Centre, located in the Women's Centre, is equipped to provide a pre-school facility for the community children below school age. The pre-school facility is staffed by community CDEP employees.
  • A community Women's Centre provides a facility for women's sewing, tie dyeing, fabric painting and arts and crafts. The centre is supported by several CDEP workers.
  • Two children's playgrounds provide swings, seesaws and other children's activity equipment.
  • A media centre (radio studio, TV studio and editing suite) produces a local radio and TV program, and records cultural material for the community.
  • Community people can receive Imparja, ABC and Golden West television programs, which are re-broadcast through the local BRACS system.
  • Two members trucks (Men's and Women's) support sporting trips; Aged Care outings; hunting, food-gathering and visits to country; ceremonies and funeral trips; swimming trips to Blackstone.

After school recreational program provided by school: BMX Bikes, Go-Karts; Hall games etc.



There are many competent artists in the Irrunytju Community.

The community is a founding member of Maruku Arts and Crafts, the large Art and Crafts retail and wholesale outlet at Yulara Tourist Resort. Maruku sells Ngaanyatjarra art to local tourists, and exports it to galleries around Australia and overseas.

The Community Heritage Art Project purchases traditional paintings by Irrunytju artists to be kept as the Irrunytju Community Heritage, and to be shown and curated for the community by the Warburton Arts Centre.

Women from Irrunytju have successfully exhibited their art work in regional competitions and won several prizes and high commendation.

The community organises a regional Inma Festival each year. The event is recorded by Irrunytju Media and video taped copies sold.

Community dancers have been highly commended for performances they have given at Barunga, Adelaide, Perth, Alice Springs, Kalgoorlie and Townsville.

The Community Women's Centre provides a popular facility for women to practise their painting, fabric painting, tie dyeing and arts and crafts.


Employs 2 managers

Tourism Enterprise

Is in the process of development to enable tourists to visit the Surveyor General's Corner located 12 km from the community near the Ngurapila Outstation.

Video Production

Video's of traditional dance, tjukurrpa re-enactments, meetings, music events, football etc are recorded, edited and produced by Irrunytju Media. These are sold to the public and, periodically, to TV stations.

Mechanical Workshop

Will recommence trading when funds can be found to upgrade the workshop building. It will repair and maintain grant funded vehicles and plant, as well as a low cost repairs and maintenance service to members.

Other Activities

The Women's Centre provides a forum for sewing and a variety of arts and crafts activities which can provide income for Community women.

Aged Care Facility provides meal services and carers on a fee-for-service-basis.


Community Council

The responsibility for achieving the objects of the Irrunytju Community is vested in the Council. (Section 6 of The Constitution and Rules of the Irrunytju Community Inc).

Councillors are community members elected by community members to hold office for three (3) years.

There is no limit to the number of Councillors who can be appointed.

A minimum of five (5) Councillors is required to form a quorum for any meeting. (Section 12 of the Irrunytju Constitution and Rules).

Council meets for the dispatch of business as often as necessary, and at such time and place as it may nominate.

Governing Committee

Under the provision of Section 21 of its Constitution and Rules the Council has delegated its Powers to THE IRRUNYTJU GOVERNING COMMITTEE, of which all 13 Councillors are Members.

This GOVERNING COMMITTEE is responsible for the management and conduct of the affairs of the Irrunytju Community Inc and for control of its funds and property. The Governing Committee meets at least every two months to consider and process community business.

Community Administration

Community Development Advisor (CDA) is responsible to the Community Council (Governing Committee) for the day to day management of the Irrunytju Community.

The objectives of the CDA position are to -

  1. Provide the community with specific and effective advice on all matters relating to its development.
  2. Provide effective management and co-ordination of projects and staff so that the policies and aspirations of the community are achieved.
  3. Liaise with a wide range of individuals and organisations for the development of the community and the securing of resources to further the objectives of the community.

Cdep Project Officer

A CDEP Project Officer manages the works aspect of Community Development Employment Program and maintains the Irrunytju Community Essential Services.

Other CDEP Management Supervisors are: Clerical Assistant (Office); Store Manager (Store); Media Trainers (BRACS); Health Sister (Clinic); Aged Care Worker (Aged Care); Women's Centre Worker (Women's Centre and Play Group); Principal (School); Heritage Art Project Worker; Sport and Recreation.

Community Office

The community office is the administrative centre for Irrunytju Community.

From the community office the Advisor, and Clerical Assistant, Liaison Officer and six CDEP-funded office workers provide a wide range of administrative and financial management services to members and community enterprises.

The community office complex is air conditioned and has a multi-purpose conference room.

The office is open daily from 9.30 am to 11.30 am, and 2.00 pm to 4.00 pm, Central Standard Time.

Community Services

Community Clinic

A community health clinic is provided at Irrunytju by Ngaanyatjarra Health Service. The clinic is staffed by a registered nursing sister.

The clinic provides primary and preventative health services to community members.

The clinic has a Toyota troop carrier fitted with stretchers for ambulance service.

Emergency evacuations are done as and when necessary by RFDS Kalgoorlie. As the Wingellina (Irrunytju) airstrip is not safe for night operations, patients requiring evacuation at night are driven 70kms from Irrunytju Clinic to Blackstone airstrip, which is approved for night emergency operations.

Specialist Health Services

Specialist paediatrician and audiologists provide regular quarterly visits to the community, and an ophthalmologist visits Irrunytju annually.

Community School Facilities

The Wingellina Primary School, Irrunytju Community, is staffed by a Headmaster, two assistant teachers, one Rural Integrated Program Aide, three Aboriginal Education Workers (2 female, 1 male), and one cleaner.

The primary school teaches children from 4 years - 19 years; preparatory to Year 12.

High school students have, in the past, attended the Wiltja School in Adelaide, South Australia, but now attend Wongatha CAPS, Esperance.

Non-compulsory aged students who wish to further their education can stay at Wing Primary or go to Wongatha CAPS, Esperance.

Correspondence education is available at Irrunytju Community through School of the Air, Alice Springs.

Student Numbers: 20. Average Attendance: varies

Attendance affected by cultural movements, otherwise attendance is very good.

Plans underway for Adult Education Classes (eg Literacy, Numeracy, Computer Skills etc.) in co-operation with Community CDEP Training Program. Also plans for Parent-Teacher Supervised Homework Program.

Community Training Programmes

The community emphasises training of community members, and uses it as one of the strategies to promote management continuity for CDEP workers.

Training is an integral part of the community's CDEP program, and is currently provided in the following areas:

Office - AWS Accredited Course (2 Clerical Modules). On the job training by clerical assistant; visiting AWS trainer.

Store - AWS Accredited Course (2 Certificates). On the job training by store manager; visiting AWS trainer.

Clinic - Ngaanyatjarra Health Service Accredited Course. On the job training by clinic sister; block release to Ngaanyatjarra College.

Play Group - On the job training by Community Development Advisor; Visiting NPY Women's Council Play Group Trainer and Assistant.

CDEP Works Program and - On the job training by Project Officer;

Essential Services Environmental Health Field Officer visits;

Maintenance Essential Services Training Ng Services.

Women's Program - On the job training and workshops - NPY Women's Council Trainers periodically.

Media - BRACS training - On The Job Training - 2 Media Trainers resident at Wingellina; Batchelor College Certificate in Broadcasting Course block releases.

Law/Order And Justice Services

Regular visits and patrols  by police from Blackstone Police Station.

Police patrols carry out investigations, vehicle registrations, issue drivers licences and gun licences.

The Court of Petty Sessions at Warburton sits weekly, or when necessary, and offenders found guilty and sentenced to imprisonment are transferred to the Kalgoorlie Prison.

There are two Community Wardens and a Community Liaison Officer.

Goal 10 of the Irrunytju Community's Strategic Development Plan is -

"To empower the Governing Committee to creatively manage all Community Law and Order matters so as to reduce the number of Members needing to enter the Justice System"

To this end, a community court system has been established.

Community Court

Visiting police have co-operated with the community, where police discretionary powers permit it, to empower community leaders to deal with offenders within the community.

The basis of this system is that the community seeks to assist offenders by analysis of their problems, provision of remedial care, and imposition of appropriate supervised community-based punishment. Wages from Community Based Work Orders go into a damages fund to enable to community to repair and pay for any wilful damage.

Where necessary, offenders are dealt with by police in the orthodox way and summarily charged before the Court of Petty Sessions, Warburton, for judgement and sentencing.

Employment Programmes

The Irrunytju Community Development Employment Program is the major employment provider in the Community.

  • Has been operating since 1979.
  • Employs 42 females and 44 males (1998).
  • Employs 15 females and 34 males (2011)

Employment activities include:

Municipal Works, Community Services, Land Management, Traditional and Cultural Activities, Housing Maintenance, Sport and Recreational Activities, Women's Resource Centre Activities, Play Group, Community Construction Programs, Law and Order Activities, Media Centre Program Activities.

The community CDEP also pays wages for community people who are employed in the community office, community store, community health clinic, and the community workshop (when operational), tourism.

Essential Services

Community Sewerage

(1998) there are 49 septic systems in Irrunytju Community

Twenty-three (23) pit latrines are maintained to provide a standby facility should individual septics or the proposed deep sewerage system fail.

One (1) public toilet is located near the community Church and two (2) in the Hall.

Community Rubbish Collection

CDEP workers collect rubbish at least one day per week.

Rubbish is moved to deep pits and buried.

Community Water Supply

A field of three (3) bores (3 diesel), all within 2 km radius of the community, provide an adequate supply of potable water to the community.

Water is connected to all residents, the clinic, the school, the store, the office, and all community centres.

Water flow from the 3 potable bores is sufficient for community housing and personal needs, but insufficient to enable the establishment of an Environmental Health Landscaping Program for the community.

Irrunytju Community is located on a very wind-swept, elevated site. The township, as a result of wind erosion, has become a barren landscape, with dusty housing allotments and bare, open spaces, with blown dust causing an excess of eye, chest and nasal complaints throughout community members.

Good landscaping, providing shelter belts of trees and grassed allotments, will play an important part in improving community health.

Community Power Supply

Four diesel generators supply power to Irrunytju.

4 x 150 KVA

24 hour power is supplied, and power does not fluctuate.

49000 litre diesel fuel storage is provided at the power house in 3 above-ground tanks.

The CDEP Project Officer monitors power house operations and its fuel management.

State Government Western Power Community Power House Services provide funds for, and maintenance of, Irrunytju Power Service.

Community members and staff, and all community facilities make regular electricity payments for use of community power.


Irrunytju or Wingellina is located close to the WA/SA border in the vicinity of the Wingellina Hills. Irrunytju is the name of a site in the hills to the south of the community. Like the Warburton Ranges, these hills are part of the Central Ranges region that stretches from Warburton in the west to the Mann Ranges in South Australia. The majority of residents are Pitjantjatjara speakers.

The development of a community in this area was initiated by yarnangu in response to mining activities in the area during the late 1950s. Nickel exploration and chyrsoprase mining attracted several large companies including International Nickel and many illegal prospectors.

Individual and small groups of prospectors had been travelling around the Lands as early as the 1900s. The relationship between them and yarnangu was at times mutually beneficial (particularly for trading purposes) but it was also characterised by conflict and violence. Oral history, official mission and government reports and the diaries of some of the early explorers and prospectors describe Aboriginal people being tied up and forced to lead groups to water and deliberate shootings prompted by fear or revenge for incidents of theft.

Despite the establishment of the Reserve in 1922 to protect yarnangu interests, by 1955 a large area from Mt Davies in SA to Jameson in WA had been excised from the Reserve to allow for exploration and mining. This was returned to the Reserve in 1972.

Like the Warburton Mission, many people came to congregate around the Wingellina mining camps. Some yarnangu were engaged in work, paid for in rations. Others came both to work and make sure that sites of significance, in particular those associated with the Papa (Dog) Dreaming, were protected from exploration and mining activity. The existence of sites of significance was acknowledged by some companies who instructed their mining personnel to respect them or be dismissed and/or prosecuted. Some companies even went so far as to hire yarnangu guides. There were many cases of site damage and feelings of great anxiety amongst yarnangu.

Once the miners left, yarnangu stayed and established a permanent community in the vicinity of the mining camps using the existing infrastructure (airstrips, shelters, windmills etc) and the funds provided by the Government. The community became incorporated in 1976 and a member of the Ngaanyatjarra Council in 1981.

Today the miners have returned. A large deposit of oxide nickel first identified by the mining company Inco has now been shown to be more extensive and deeper than originally thought. It remains to be seen whether it will be an economically viable deposit given the remoteness of this region.

Because Irrunytju is a member of the Ngaanyatjarra Council, there is a team of lawyers and anthropologists whose job it is to negotiate with all prospective mining companies strong agreements that ensure yarnangu interests are looked after.

Yarnangu are once again concerned both for their country but also for their well established community which they have proudly built from the remains of an abandoned mining camp.