Oombulgurri Community, Western Australia
|Population||0 (December 2011)|
|Elevation||385 m (1,263 ft)|
|LGA(s)||Shire of Wyndham-East Kimberley|
Oombulgurri, also written as Umbulgara, was an Aboriginal community in the eastern Kimberley, 45 kilometres (28 mi) by air and about 210 kilometres (130 mi) by road northwest of Wyndham. it had a population of 107 as of the 2006 census. It was inhabited by the Yeidji people who now self-identify as Balanggarra. In 2011, the government of Western Australia encouraged residents of Oombulgurri to move elsewhere, after it deemed the community unsustainable. The last residents from Oombulgurri were relocated to Wyndham just before Christmas 2011.
The Anglican Forrest River Mission for Aborigines was founded in 1896–97 by Harold Hale but was abandoned after a few months. A permanent mission, known as the Forrest River Mission, was established on the site in 1913 by the bishop of the north west, the Rt. Rev. Gerard Trower. In December 1913, Anglican priest Ernest Gribble took charge, three years after he was forced to resign as superintendent at Yarrabah. Gribble remained as superintendent until the early 1930s.
The mission was closed in 1969, after the 1967 Aboriginal referendum.
In 1973, fifty Aboriginal people decided to resettle their abandoned tribal land and rename it Oombulgurri. Within a year, the population had grown to 200. Infrastructure and welfare programs were set up in the 1970s and 1980s to provide the residents with basic amenities and to allow the town to become self-sufficient.
Coronial inquest into Aboriginal deaths
In 2007 a coronial inquiry began into Aboriginal deaths in the Kimberley, including five in Oombulgurri. It revealed high levels of alcohol abuse, suicide and child neglect in Oombulgurri. Some time after the inquest, alcohol was banned there.
Child sex investigation
A police task force, Operation Sheepshank, began after a report was compiled on an alleged paedophile ring at the Aboriginal community of Kalumburu, in the Kimberley resulting in arrests of three men and a juvenile from Oombulgurri.
In October 2010, the government of Western Australia announced plans to close the community of Oombulgurri, as its population had decreased from 150 to less than 50. In February 2011, the government was reportedly considering a number of proposals about the community's future once all the residents had moved out, including converting it into a tourism retreat or a juvenile justice facility. On 1 March 2011, the community's only store was dismantled and removed by boat. As of 2 March 2011, only seven residents still remained in Oombulgurri. Shortly before Christmas of 2011, the remaining residents were relocated to Wyndham. In 2014 the state government demolished most of the buildings at the site, despite opposition by former residents and a campaign to prevent the demolition by Amnesty International Australia.
Oombulgurri is only reliably accessible by boat or by air, as the unsealed track leading from Home Valley Station to the community is washed out most of the year due to the wet season; the total road distance from the nearest town, Wyndham, is about 210 kilometres (130 mi). There is an airstrip nearby for light aircraft.
- "$1.6m spent on dongas for ousted Oombulgurri families". ABC News. 20 January 2012. Retrieved 24 May 2012.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics (25 October 2007). "Oombulgurri (State Suburb)". 2006 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 23 July 2011.
- "K32:Yiiji". AIATSIS. Retrieved 13 November 2020.
- "Balanggarra Healthy Country Plan 2012–2022" (PDF). Balanggarra Aboriginal Corporation. 2011. Retrieved 13 November 2020.
- "Plans afoot for remote Oombulgurri community". ABC News. 21 February 2011. Retrieved 18 April 2011.
- Kimberley coronial inquests extended
- The Western Australian coroner is set to visit Oombulgurri today as part of an inquest into five Aboriginal deaths at the remote Kimberley community.
- Inquest hears damning evidence
- Homes danger to occupants
- "Oombulgurri could be shut down". ABC News. 14 October 2010. Retrieved 18 April 2011.
- Former Aboriginal community leader arrested on child sex charges
- Three people from the remote Kimberley Aboriginal community of Oombulgurri have been charged with child sex offences.
- Community denies trying to thwart child abuse investigation
- Police lay more child sex offences in Kimberley
- "Last Oombulgurri residents determined to stay". ABC News. 2 March 2011. Retrieved 18 April 2011.
- Lucy Martin (21 June 2014). "Former residents oppose plans to demolish buildings at remote Oombulgurri community". ABC News.
- Harrison, Dan (28 November 2014). "Remote indigenous towns fear trauma and dislocation as bulldozers roll in". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 12 November 2020.
- Dupe, Cally. "Tour company offers trips on previously locals-only trail". Kimberley Echo. Retrieved 12 November 2020.
- Book review of related books. Retrieved 9 November 2005
- Western Australian education records summary (pdf). Retrieved 9 November 2005
- Guide to indigenous records(pdf file). Retrieved 9 November 2005
- Wyndham/Oombulgurri parish. Retrieved 10 November 2005
- Aboriginal Lands trust estate (pdf file). Retrieved 10 November 2005
- Community development program. Retrieved 10 November 2005