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Indulkana (Iwantja)
South Australia
Population 315 (2006 census)
Postcode(s) 0872
Elevation 396 m (1,299 ft)
Location 1,200 km (746 mi) northwest of Adelaide
LGA(s) Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara
State electorate(s) Giles
Federal Division(s) Grey
Mean max temp Mean min temp Annual rainfall
37.1 °C
99 °F
5.0 °C
41 °F
222.6 mm
8.8 in

Indulkana (also known as Iwantja) 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 2006 census, Indulkana had a population of 315.


Indulkana (26°58′00″S 133°19′30″E / 26.966667°S 133.325°E / -26.966667; 133.325) is situated just 8 kilometres west of the Stuart Highway and approximately 360 kilometres south of Alice Springs. By road it is 1,200 kilometres north-west of Adelaide.


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.


As of 2011, Indulkana's population is 395. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) found that in 1991 the population of Indulkana was 317 and in 1996 that figure rose to 330. By 2011 the population had increased by a further 67 people to a total of 397 according to the Australian Census. The 2011 census also identifies the median age of the population as 25 years of age.

PY Media states on its website:

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 APY 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.

ABS research indicated in 2003 that the 2001 census data showed that Indulkana had South Australia's highest proportions of Aboriginal residents (90%). Unlike other APY communities, Indulkana did not have one of the State's highest proportion of Australian-born residents, nor a high proportion of single parent families.

Like other APY communities, Indulkana did have one of the lowest percentages of home personal computer use (South Australia's lowest, 5%).

Indulkana was a standout from other APY communities in that it ranked in other categories that its sister communities did not. For instance, Indulkana had the highest proportion of 0-14 year olds in the State (35.0%), the State's third highest proportion of Professionals or Associate Professionals in the State (41.8%, following wealthy Adelaide Hills localities of Summertown and Bridgewater). This is perhaps explained by the town being situated close to the Stuart Highway and hence, perhaps, serving as a gateway to the APY Lands and - thus - an attractive place for non-Aboriginal professionals to be based.

Indulkana ranked as the clear highest category of proportion of residents employed in the retail trade industry (59.6%) compared with the next closest, Yorketown (25.1%) and Cleve (24.8%).


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 (ATSIC), 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.

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

Interestingly, in 1997 (just a year after Lowitja O'Donoghue ceased to be ATSIC chairperson), ATSIC cut funding for 6 major community initiatives for Indulkana due to allegations of rorting.

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


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

There is an unsealed airstrip located close to the town.

"Iwantja Arts" provides an art centre operating with local artists. It has a gallery for sale of art work from across the Lands.

A doctor lives in community and services 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.

Indulkana has a community church site run by the Uniting Church in Australia.

Indulkana has a Youth Shed that has been supervised by UnitingCare Wesley Country SA staff since 2011. Youth workers run the facility 6 days a week during the school holidays but it is closed every Sunday & Monday during the school term. 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.

Indulkana does not have a permanent police presence, though it has a police station. South Australian police are based at Marla and service in the area. The Indulkana police station is considered by the Police Association of South Australia to be a "disgrace", "dirty, ill-equipped sheds".

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.


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