Amunturrngu – Mt Liebig

The Mt Liebig Story



Mount Liebig lies on the western edge of the greater MacDonnell Ranges, some 325km west of Alice Springs. Known locally as Watiyawanu, Mount Liebig is a go-between community for families with connections to Haasts Bluff, Papunya, Kintore and Kiwirrkura. The majority of people living in Mount Liebig are former residents of Papunya or Haasts Bluff. Mt Liebig is on the edge of the Western Desert and is one of the last truly wild regions in the world. The last nomads came out of this area in 1970s and settled across these communities.


From Bush Camp to Community

Mount Liebig Bore was a camp in the days when Haasts Bluff was a ration station for Aboriginal people west of Hermannsburg in the internal coherence that was led by succession processes and subsequent re-territorialisation. The reconjuring of people at this place has been enabled by the new Indigenous language of Pintupi-Luritja; residents who chose to remain after the 1980s actively identified with this new language, referred to by linguists as a Communitect. The emergence of the Luritja language in this region, and its consolidation at Mount Liebig and surrounding outstations, was an expression of the need to regroup and reformulate a local identity after unprecedented historical interventions. Mount Liebig first became an ‘official’ outstation service centre in 1982, when the Central Desert Store was established. It provided a convenient location for provisioning the surrounding outstations of Warren Creek, New Bore and Inyilingi.



Trading To Continue Traditional life 

Mount Liebig Bore was a camp in the days when Haasts Bluff was a ration station for Aboriginal people west of Hermannsburg in the 1940s. Many of the people who had early come in to the Lutheran ration depot used it only as a convenience; they traded dingo scalps for food and returned to the bush. There is a series of permanent springs west of Haasts Bluff in the Amunturrngu and Kartilka ranges that makes for plenty of bush foods, even in the dry. The springs located around the area and the numerous semi-permanent waters and Rockhole’s were places for ‘holiday camps’ and remain so for many community members today. These waters gave people the autonomy to live without any absolute reliance on rations and supported a series of families. 



Mt Liebig Family Tree



Mt Liebig Cultural Educators



[1] Interwoven histories of Mount Liebig and Papunya – Luritja, 2021,