The Papunya Story



From the 1870s much of the region was taken up as pastoral land. The displaced Aboriginal people took shelter in the Hermannsburg mission to avoid drought and violent confrontation with pastoralists. In the 1930s the Hermannsburg priest, Karl and Ted Strehlow, argued for the creation of Aboriginal reserve in the western desert. In the 1950s Papunya was established as the main store and bore for this region and most of Luritja/ Pintubi people returned to the region. 

Bursting into the spotlight

In the 1970s Papunya saw a lot of attention with the birth of the Dot Painting on canvas. Several Desert Rock bands came to the Western Desert, most famously the Warumpi Band. Midnight Oil spent sometime out here in the 90s and were inspired to write Beds are Burning and other songs about the struggles of life in these communities. 

New Beginnings

Once a government settlement of over 1800 Western Desert inhabitants, Papunya is now home to 418 residents who are mainly Luritja speakers. Other language groups in Papunya include Pintubi, Warlpiri and Arrernte. Known locally as Warumpi, the community of Papunya is situated 240km northwest of Alice Springs in the Luritja Pintubi Ward of the MacDonnell Regional Council. Due to overcrowding and a desire to move back to their Tjukurpa site (Honey Ant), they made their claim and Linda and Amos were given title of 3 Mile in 2010. 


Insert Pictures

Papunya Family Tree


Papunya Cultural Educators