Indulkana (Iwantja)
South Australia
Indulkana (Iwantja) is located in South Australia
Indulkana (Iwantja)
Indulkana (Iwantja)
Coordinates26°58′04″S 133°18′27″E / 26.967681°S 133.307372°E / -26.967681; 133.307372Coordinates: 26°58′04″S 133°18′27″E / 26.967681°S 133.307372°E / -26.967681; 133.307372[1]
Population256 (2016 census)[2]
Elevation396 m (1,299 ft)[citation needed]
Time zoneACST (UTC+9:30)
 • Summer (DST)ACST (UTC+10:30)
Location1,016 km (631 mi) north-west of Adelaide
LGA(s)Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara[1]
RegionFar North[1]
State electorate(s)Giles[3]
Federal division(s)Grey[4]
Mean max temp[5] Mean min temp[5] Annual rainfall[5]
28.7 °C
84 °F
13.6 °C
56 °F
234.4 mm
9.2 in

Indulkana (also known as Iwantja, from Iwantja Creek) is an Aboriginal community in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands in South Australia, comprising one of the six main communities on "The Lands" (the others being Ernabella/Pukatja, Amata, Fregon/Kaltjiti, Mimili and Pipalyatjara). At the 2016 Australian census, Indulkana had a population of 256.[2]


Indulkana (Iwantja) is situated about 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) west of the Stuart Highway and 360 kilometres (220 mi) south of Alice Springs.[6] By road it is 1,134 kilometres (705 mi) (approx.11.5 hours) north-west of Adelaide GPO.[7]


Based upon the climate records of the nearest weather station at Marla Police Station, Indulkana experiences summer maximum temperatures of an average of 37.1 degrees Celsius in January and a winter maximum average temperature of 19.7 degrees Celsius in June. Overnight lows range from a mean minimum temperature of 21.8 degrees in January to 5.0 degrees in June.

Annual rainfall averages 222.6 millimetres.[8]


Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Media (PY Media) states on its website:[6]

Indulkana is an Anangu community, often referred to as Iwantja, on the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands in the northwest of South Australia. Although Indulkana is regarded as an Pitjantjatjara community, the majority of people at Indulkana refer to themselves as Yankunytjatjara, which is a group having its origins in the eastern section of the Lands.

The community consists of approximately 200-250 people with a small number of people occupying outlying homelands.

In the 2016 Australian census:[2]

With 41.4% of the community characterised as Professionals and 29.3% as Community and Personal Service Workers 29.3%,[2] the skilled categories were higher than the average across the APY lands (33.4% and 25.9% respectively), although managers numbered fewer.[9]



Little is recorded of the history of Indulkana's foundation as a fixed settlement for habitation. There is likely more history of the Iwantja homelands surrounding the settlement.

Indulkana was the birthplace of 1984 Australian of the Year and former chairperson of the now-defunct Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, Lowitja or "Lois" O'Donoghue AC CBE, who was born in the area. The State Library of South Australia records:

In August 1932, Lois O'Donoghue was a bright-eyed brown-skinned infant newly born into the Yankunytjatjara tribe in the remote North-West Reserve of South Australia. Her mother was a full blood of the tribe, and her father the owner of a pastoral station which later passed into the hands of the McLachlan family. This was not a casual relationship and Lois is the youngest of five children born to the same parents.

In 1934, members of the frankly paternalistic United Aborigines' Mission visited her Yankunytjatjara tribe at Indulkana, 200 miles north of Coober Pedy. They persuaded her mother it would be best for the child to be brought up at the Mission's Home for Children at Quorn. Without in any way approving such a policy, Lois acknowledges that she had a happy childhood there, and later at the Colebrook home at Eden Hills.[13]

The APY now owns the horse and cattle station, "Granite Downs", at which Lowitja O'Donoghue was born.

In 1997, a year after Lowitja O'Donoghue ceased to be Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission chairperson, the commission]] cut funding for six major community initiatives for Indulkana due to allegations of rorting.[14]

In the late 1990s, the Indulkana community invited the Aboriginal Drug and Alcohol Council (SA) to run a program to address the problem of petrol sniffing in their community.[15]


Indulkana does not have a permanent police presence, though it has a police station. South Australia Police are based at Marla and service the area.[citation needed] There is a police station at Umuwa, though it has not been permanently manned.[16] As of 2020 a new, permanent policing complex is being built at Umawa. It will accommodate officers with specialist response capabilities, as well provide a base for a mobile unit which will be deployed in Fregon/Kaltjiti, Indulkana and Pipalyatjara. The service will work closely with child protection service agencies address child abuse and family violence issues.[17][18] The 2019–2020 Government of South Australia agency budget estimates the completion date as June 2021, with a total spend of A$4.28 million.[19]

Indulkana has a local community store with a fuel supply outlet.

There is an unsealed airstrip located close to the town.

A doctor lives in the community and services the health clinics at both Indulkana and Mimili Community to the west.

Indulkana is one of the two communities on the APY Lands that provides an aged care facility for elders, the other being Ernabella.

The University of South Australia runs an AnTEP program out of Indulkana, providing tertiary education in teaching with a view to people from the APY Lands teaching in culturally sensitive way on the Lands.

The Indulkana Anangu School was established after 1971, recounted on the School's website as follows:

Leslie Mingkilli wrote a letter to the South Australian Government on behalf of Indulkana Community asking for funding and help to establish a school. He wrote to the Government in the Pitjantjatjara language, insisting that a school be started at Indulkana. Leslie was educated at Ernabella (Pukatja) community where he learnt to read and write English and Pitjantjatjara. This dream finally came true when Leslie went to Adelaide and returned with David Emery, the first Principal and three teachers. The school began with tents and sheds made of timber and brush from the surrounding bush.

The school is supported by Aboriginal Education Workers and a computer facility with 24-networked computers with Internet access.

As of 2013, Indulkana has a Youth Shed that has been supervised by Uniting Care Wesley Country SA[20][21] staff since 2011. Youth workers run the facility six days a week during the school holidays but it is closed every Sunday during the school term.[22] 6 public computers with internet access and wi-fi is available at no cost. Public toilets are located on the premises, along with showering facilities which are available on request for visitors. Activities available include pool tables, darts, musical instruments (drums, guitars & percussion), Xbox, wii, reading material & books, colouring activities, painting, craft, jewelry making, music and sports equipment.[23]

Indulkana has a community oval.

A permit from the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara is required to access Indulkana, as the land is owned freehold by the resident Aboriginal people. Not true! Visitors can enter Indulkana/ Iwantja to visit the Art Centre when open, but must proceed straight to the Art Centre.

For State elections (i.e. to elect the Parliament of South Australia), a mobile polling booth is taken to Indulkana.

Iwantja Arts

Iwantja Arts was named after Iwantja Creek, where the community was first established. It was created in a building used as a community centre, later transformed into a craft centre focusing on fabric dyeing, jewellery making, and tjanpi (spinifex grass) weaving. There is a long history of printmaking among local artists, and examples of their work is held in both the South Australian Museum and National Gallery of Australia. It continues as an important art form, and both relief and intaglio forms are used in the studio.[24]

In the early 1980s, artists Alec Baker and Sadie Singer drove to Adelaide and then on to Canberra, to advocate for funding to develop facilities for a contemporary arts centre, including a printmaking workshop and painting studios. It is now a not for profit, Aboriginal-owned and -run corporation, with a gallery for sale of art work from the Lands.[24]

Iwantja Arts is one of ten Indigenous-owned and -governed enterprises that go to make up the APY Art Centre Collective,[25] established in 2013.[26]

One of the original members of Iwantja Arts is Whiskey Tjukangku. His granddaughter, Kaylene Whiskey, is also an artist.

Betty Muffler is another longtime Iwantja Arts artist and ngangkari (healer), whose work was featured in the 2020 Tarnanthi exhibition[27] as well as on the cover of the September 2020 issue of Vogue Australia.[28] She is also a director of the centre.[29]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d "Search results for 'Indulkana, LOCA' with the following datasets selected – 'Suburbs and Localities', 'Government Towns', 'SA Government Regions', 'Local Government Areas' and 'Gazetteer'". Location SA Map Viewer. South Australian government. Retrieved 20 July 2019. distance to the State Capital used in article determined by using measuring tool on the source website
  2. ^ a b c d "2016 Census QuickStats: Indulkana (L)". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 13 March 2020.
  3. ^ "District of Giles Background Profile". Electoral Commission SA. Retrieved 18 July 2019.
  4. ^ "Profile of the electoral division of Grey (SA)". Australian Electoral Commission. Retrieved 18 July 2019.
  5. ^ a b c "Monthly climate statistics: Summary statistics MARLA POLICE STATION (nearest weather station)". Commonwealth of Australia , Bureau of Meteorology. Retrieved 20 July 2019.
  6. ^ a b "Iwantja". Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Media. Retrieved 14 March 2020.
  7. ^ "Adelaide to Indulkana". Google Maps. Retrieved 14 March 2020.
  8. ^ Commonwealth Bureau of Meteorology data
  9. ^ "2016 Census QuickStats: APY Lands". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 14 March 2020.
  10. ^ "2001 Census QuickStats: Indulkana (L)". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 14 March 2020.
  11. ^ "2006 Census QuickStats: Indulkana (L)". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 14 March 2020.
  12. ^ "2011 Census QuickStats: Indulkana (L)". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 14 March 2020.
  13. ^ State Library of South Australia, "Women and Politics" series, 2001;
  14. ^ Alice Springs News, 2 April 1997 edition
  15. ^ State Library of South Australia, "ADAC Final Report – reducing Petrol Sniffing in an Aboriginal community"; "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 30 August 2007. Retrieved 10 July 2007.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  16. ^ "Police Stations like ill-equipped sheds", Adelaide Advertiser, 7 July 2007 [1]
  17. ^ Henson, Elizabeth (17 October 2018). "New police complex at Umuwa and mobile pop-up station in $4.28 million APY Lands project". The Advertiser. Retrieved 7 July 2019.
  18. ^ "Enhanced police service delivery on APY Lands". Australian Government. Dept of Prime Minister and Cabinet. Retrieved 7 July 2019.
  19. ^ State Budget 2019–20: Agency Statement: Budget Paper 4, Volume 3 (PDF) (Report). Government of South Australia. Dept of Treasury and Finance. 18 June 2019. ISSN 1440-8589. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 February 2020. Retrieved 16 January 2020.
  20. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 24 July 2014. Retrieved 8 August 2014.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  21. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 August 2014. Retrieved 8 August 2014.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  22. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 11 August 2014. Retrieved 8 August 2014.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  23. ^ "Outback town keen to retain youth shed". Australia: ABC News. 20 August 2012.
  24. ^ a b "About us". Iwantja Arts. Retrieved 16 March 2020.
  25. ^ "Our Art Centres". APY Art Centre Collective. Archived from the original on 22 March 2020. Retrieved 16 March 2020.
  26. ^ Marsh, Walter (20 May 2019). "New gallery run for and by Anangu artists opens in Adelaide". The Adelaide Review. Retrieved 15 March 2020.
  27. ^ "Betty Muffler". Art Gallery of South Australia. 9 October 2020. Retrieved 15 November 2020.
  28. ^ Kerin, Lindy (9 September 2020). "Stunning artwork by Betty Muffler makes latest Vogue cover". NITV. Retrieved 15 November 2020.
  29. ^ Cole, Kelli; Hartshorn, Aidan (5 January 2021). "Betty Muffler: hope and healing". National Gallery of Australia. Retrieved 12 July 2021. This interview was first published in the Spring 2020 edition of Artonview.