Kiwirrkurra Community, Western Australia

Coordinates: 22°49′00″S 127°45′50″E / 22.81667°S 127.76389°E / -22.81667; 127.76389
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Western Australia
Kiwirrkurra is located in Western Australia
Coordinates22°49′00″S 127°45′50″E / 22.81667°S 127.76389°E / -22.81667; 127.76389
Population171 (ILOC 2021)[1]
Elevation433 m (1,421 ft)[2]
Time zoneACST[3] (UTC+9:30)
LGA(s)Shire of East Pilbara
State electorate(s)Pilbara
Federal division(s)Durack

Kiwirrkurra, gazetted as Kiwirrkurra Community, is a small community in Western Australia in the Gibson Desert, 1,200 kilometres (750 mi) east of Port Hedland and 700 kilometres (430 mi) west of Alice Springs.[4] It had a population of 165 in 2016, mostly Aboriginal Australians.[5] It has been described as the most remote community in Australia.[6]

The community lies within the Ngaanyatjarra Council area, although outside of the boundary of the Ngaanyatjarra Lands.[7]


It was established around a bore in the early 1980s as a Pintupi settlement, as part of the outstation movement, and became a permanent community in 1983. It was one of the last areas with nomadic Aboriginal people until about that time, the Pintupi Nine.[4]

It was flooded in early 2000, and further flooding between 3 and 5 March 2001 forced the evacuation of its population of 170, first briefly to Kintore and then for four weeks to NORFORCE's base in Alice Springs and finally to Morapoi Station in the Goldfields of Western Australia, 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) SSW of Kiwirrkurra. The stay in Alice Springs and Morapoi brought the community into contact with alcohol for the first time and led to violence and social disruption. By late 2002 the community had moved back to Kiwirrkurra.[4][8]

On 19 October 2001 the Kiwirrkurra people gained native title over 42,900 square kilometres (16,600 sq mi) of the surrounding land and waters.[9]

On 19 June 2009, a 26-year-old man from Kiwirrkurra was the first Australian to die of the 2009 flu pandemic; he was initially treated in Alice Springs hospital but he died in Royal Adelaide Hospital.[10][11][12]

A Perth Catholic boys' school, CBC Fremantle, has established an immersion partnership program with the local Kiwirrkura community to further Indigenous relations, improve local facilities and further the students' social and pastoral developments. Students and teachers organise trips about once a year.[citation needed]

The Kiwirrkura community worked to establish the Kiwirrkurra Indigenous Protected Area,[13] which was formally launched in September 2014.

Location and description[edit]

The settlement is located in the Gibson Desert in Western Australia, 1,200 kilometres (750 mi) east of Port Hedland and 700 kilometres (430 mi) west of Alice Springs. Although it is situated outside of the Ngaanyatjarra Lands, Kiwirrkurra is affiliated with the Ngaanyatjarra Council.[7] It is one of 11 communities in the council area.[14]

Although situated in a desert, it is in a low-lying area without drainage, and thus prone to flooding.[4]

The residents of the settlement are Pintupi, and speak the Pintupi language,[7] one of several Western Desert languages.


Although the community name is gazetted as "Kiwirrkurra Community"[15][16] and this is the usual spelling,[14][3] a more accurate reflection of the way the Pintupi speaking community members say the name (according to the standard Pintupi orthography) is "Kiwirrkura" and this spelling is used in many printed materials especially technical works dealing with the language.[17][18]


There is a school campus called Kiwirrkurra Campus, with three teachers and 24 students as of 2021. The school teaches Pintupi language and culture.[7] One school principal manages the school along with nine others across the Ngaanyatjarra Lands in the Western Desert region of WA, collectively known as Ngaanyatjarra Lands School.[3]

Notable people[edit]


  1. ^ Australian Bureau of Statistics (28 June 2022). "Kiwirrkurra Community (Indigenous Location)". Australian Census 2021. Edit this at Wikidata
  2. ^ Airport Nav Finder
  3. ^ a b c Morris, Nathan (2 February 2017). "School principal manages nine schools across two time zones in remote WA". ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). Retrieved 2 May 2021.
  4. ^ a b c d Brinkley, Cath (February 2009). "Kiwirrkurra:the flood in the desert" (PDF). The Australian Journal of Emergency Management. 24 (1). Archived from the original (PDF) on 18 December 2012. Retrieved 25 June 2009.
  5. ^ Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2075.0 – Census of Population and Housing – Counts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2016 (Microsoft Excel spreadsheet)[1]
  6. ^ "Kiwirrkurra – the most remote community in Australia". Biting the Dust. 25 March 2009. Archived from the original on 14 April 2011. Retrieved 22 January 2011.
  7. ^ a b c d "Kiwirrkurra Campus". Ngaanyatjarra Lands School. 9 April 2018. Retrieved 2 May 2021.
  8. ^ "Kiwirrkurra people return home". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 13 August 2002. Retrieved 26 June 2009.
  9. ^ "Negotiations result in recognition of Kiwirrkurra people's native title rights". National Native Title Tribunal. 19 October 2001. Archived from the original on 21 June 2009. Retrieved 26 June 2009.
  10. ^ Rickard, Jayne (25 June 2009). "Kiwirrkurra man did not die of swine flu". The West Australian. Archived from the original on 26 June 2009. Retrieved 25 June 2009.
  11. ^ "First Suspected Death from H1N1 Influenza 09 infection". Department of Health and Ageing. 19 June 2009. Archived from the original on 22 June 2009. Retrieved 25 June 2009.
  12. ^ Pepper, Daile (19 June 2009). "WA man dies from swine flu". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 27 June 2009.
  13. ^ Kiwirrkurra Indigenous Protected Area
  14. ^ a b "Frequently Asked Questions: Information Technology Communications" (PDF). Working in the Ngaanyatjarra Lands. Rural Health West. Retrieved 2 May 2021.
  15. ^ "Placenames search". Geoscience Australia. Archived from the original on 5 June 2011. Retrieved 26 June 2009.
  16. ^ "Foundation Spatial Data". Place Names. Geoscience Australia. Retrieved 2 May 2021.
  17. ^ Gray, James (2021). "Variable modality in pintupi-luritja purposive clauses". Languages. 6 (52): 52. doi:10.3390/languages6010052.
  18. ^ Heffernan, John (1999). A learner's guide to Pintupi-Luritja. Alice Springs: IAD Press.