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The Tjurabalan (Jura-balan) is a nomadic desert tribe from the edge of the Tanami desert near Sturt Creek and The Paraku Lake system, Lake Gregory[1] in Western Australia.



The combined population of the tribe in 2003 was approximately 1200 people


The Tjurabalan dwell in the Tanami Desert, in proximity to the Ngurrara, and encompasses the communities of Ringer Soak (Kundat Djaru), Billiluna, Mulan and Balgo. The Coyote Gold Mine is also located within the native title of the Tjurabalan people.[2]


The explorers David Carnegie and Alfred Canning crossed their region, both being in the habit of capturing aboriginals and coercing them into revealing where fresh water springs might be found. Carnegie denied them water until their thirst made them collaborate. Canning had chains and neck padlocks manufactured which he applied to kidnapped Tjurabalan people in order to force them to guide his party to water.[1]

Oral tradition of a massacre of the local Tjurabalan people by white settlers was corroborated by forensic archaeological investigations in 2017.[3]

The Tjurabalan did not have much contact with whites until the 1950s since no extensive development projects had been envisaged for their area down to that time.[1]

Native title[edit]

In Ngalpil vs. Western Australia (2001) the Tjurabalan won recognition of their native title rights to 26,000 sq.kilometres of their traditional lands.[1]

Notes and references[edit]

Explanatory notes[edit]



  • "AIATSIS map of Indigenous Australia". AIATSIS.
  • "Tindale Tribal Boundaries" (PDF). Department of Aboriginal Affairs, Western Australia. September 2016.
  • Herbert, Bronwyn (5 June 2006). "Gold mine brings new opportunities to the Tanami Desert". ABC Rural.
  • Tran, Tran (2016) [First published 2015]. "The (Non-Legal) Guide to Meaningful Recognition: A Case Study from the Canning Basin, Western Australia". In Sillitoe, Paul. Indigenous Studies and Engaged Anthropology: The Collaborative Moment. Routledge. pp. 163–179. ISBN 978-1-317-11722-3.