Umuwa, South Australia

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South Australia
Umuwa is located in South Australia
Coordinates 26°27′55″S 132°2′32″E / 26.46528°S 132.04222°E / -26.46528; 132.04222Coordinates: 26°27′55″S 132°2′32″E / 26.46528°S 132.04222°E / -26.46528; 132.04222
Population 50 (?; est.)[citation needed]
Established 1991
Postcode(s) 0872
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

Umuwa is an Aboriginal community in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands in South Australia, serving as an administrative centre for the six main communities on "The Lands" (the others being Amata, Pipalyatjara, Pukatja/Ernabella, Fregon/Kaltjiti, Indulkana and Mimili), as well as the outlying communities.


Umuwa is located approximately 250 km north-west of Marla and 460 km south west of Alice Springs.


Based upon the climate records of the nearest weather station at Marla Police Station, Umuwa 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.[1]


Approximately 80 people live at Umuwa.


Umuwa was established in 1991 as the administrative centre for the APY Lands.

The Hon Robert Lawson MLC, a member of the South Australian Parliament Standing Committee on Aboriginal Lands, on 1 June 2004 in the South Australian Legislative Council referred to Umuwa as the "Canberra of the Lands". It appears that Umuwa, by proportion of population, relatively recent history of establishment and tendency for administration to be centred there, is modelled on the Canberra style establishment of a capital for the Lands.


Mail arrives in Umuwa once per week by air mail. Supplies arrive by truck weekly. Unlike larger APY Lands settlements, Umuwa does not have a general store.

Based in Umuwa, AP Services provides essential services to the APY Lands.

PY Media is also based in Umuwa, providing multimedia and radio transmission services.

Nganampa Health Council, which staffs and runs the health clinics in other APY Lands towns, is based in Umuwa.

As with most APY settlements, Australian Broadcasting Corporation and Special Broadcasting Service television are available.

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

There is a police station at Umuwa, though it is not permanently manned. It is said to be the best quality of the police stations on the APY Lands.[2]

A permit is required for a member of the public to visit any community on the APY Lands, as they are freehold lands owned by the Aboriginal people.


Unlike other settlements that must rely on non-renewable energy, in September 2003 work was completed at Umuwa for a solar power station which was expected to save 140,000 litres of diesel and 510 tonnes of Greenhouse emissions each year.[3][4] In 2004 the facility was described as a field of 10 solar concentrators, each fourteen metres in diameter and each generating 20 kilowatts of electricity. Its total generating capacity was 200 kilowatts and the facility was expected to have a life of 30 years. The solar concentrators were parabolic dishes designed and constructed by Solar Systems (which was acquired by Silex Systems circa 2010).

The farm was taken offline in 2005.[5]

On 20 August 2008, the facility was reactivated after a substantial upgrade. The field of refurbished concentrators was now capable of generating 715 megawatt hours of electricity annually, more than double its previous capacity (335 megawatt hours).[5]

As of 4 February 2011, the solar farm had reportedly not been working for more than a year.[6] On 30 June 2011, the South Australian Government confirmed that the sun farm was "currently not operational" and that it would be "mothballed".[7]


  1. ^ Commonwealth Bureau of Meteorology data
  2. ^ "Police Stations like ill-equipped sheds", Adelaide Advertiser, 7 July 2007 [1]
  3. ^ Solar Systems Case Study - Umuwa;
  4. ^ Google Earth link to satellite footage of the solar dishes
  5. ^ a b "APY Lands: sun farm at Umuwa". Retrieved 2015-12-20.
  6. ^ Martin, S. 4 February 2011. "APY solar generator lying idle," The Advertiser, p39. Available online at: Accessed: 4 February 2011.
  7. ^ Portolesi, G and Marshall, S. 30 June 2011. Hansard, Estimates Committee B, Parliament of South Australia, p198.

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