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Ninuku regionWestern Pitjantjatjara Lands: Tjungu Palya


Artists working with Tjungu Palya art centre live at Kanpi, Nyapari and Watarru in the western part of the "APY Lands" in the far north of South Australia. Located about 100kms south of Uluru (Ayers Rock), Nyapari is set at the base of the majestic Mann Ranges in the heart of country traditionally owned by the Pitjantjatjara people. These ranges known to Anangu as Murputja, likening the mountain to the bony ridge of a person's spine, are the source of many water holes and traditional camping places.

The homelands of Kanpi, Nyapari, Angatja, Umpukulu and Tjankanu have grown from these seasonal camping places into permanent settlements. Over fifty artists from Murputja joined together with family members living in traditional country 180kms to the south at Watarru and created Tjungu Palya, which translates as Good Together and refers to this collaboration between the homelands. For more information about the centre, and the artists at work, see our page on Nyapari Artists at Work.

Map of APY communities

Since its incorporation in 2006, Tjungu Palya has grown to be a dynamic and innovative community art centre. It plays a vital economic role in the sustainability of these small communities. Its financial strength enables the artists to support community development through projects such as the Thunderboys (a local band of five young men all under 20), an aged care and lunch program, governance training and cultural maintenance. The motivation for building up the business of the art centre is to increase the capacity for Anangu to take positive control of their lives.

All the senior members of Tjungu Palya lived a traditional life, travelling in small family groups across the Western Desert. A dynamic landscape, which sustained Anangu both spiritually and physically. "Whitefellas" came to this country relatively recently, well within memory of many artists. The remoteness of these communities has contributed to the maintenance of an Aboriginal lifestyle rich in ceremonies and traditional observances.

In the short time the artists of Tjungu Palya have been working they have received much acclaim for their work. They are represented in many public institutions and private collections including the Art Gallery of South Australia, The Australian National Gallery, The Art Gallery of New South Wales, The Western Australian Art Gallery, The National Gallery of Victoria, Museums and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory and Araluen Cultural Precinct in Alice Springs.

Two artists from Tjungu Palya Jimmy Baker and Maringka Baker were selected to participate in the inaugural National Indigenous Art Triennial Culture Warriors held at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra 1n 2007.


Kanpi is also located in the far northwest of South Australia about 20 km south of the Northern Territory border. It is located approximately 460 km south west of Alice Springs and lies 15 kms west of Nyapari community and 100 kms from the nearest larger community of Amata to the east. The Mann Ranges come down close to the Community giving it a beautiful back drop.

The people living here are all Pitjantjatjara people with close connections to country to the west. As the community is small it only has a few services and a community office.


Nyapari is located in South Australia about 20 km south of the Northern Territory border. It is approximately 450 km south west of Alice Springs. Nyapari is a small Anangu community located 15kms east of Kanpi, in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara lands. There are about 85 people living in Nyapari, mainly Pitjantjatjara speaking people.

Nyapari began as a homeland started by the father of the current chairperson Keith Stevens, and Keith brought his family back here because he wanted to look after his father's country. It is situated on a spinifex plain next to a spectacular range of ancient hills which hold the dreaming stories for the families who live there.

Although they are close together, Kanpi and Nyapari are separate places with their own community councils and associations with different tjukurrpa (dreaming stories) and country.


Watarru Community is located in South Australia near the northern edge of the Great Victoria Desert. It lies approximately 550 km south west of Alice Springs and is one of the remotest Aboriginal communities in Australia.

Watarru panorama

The community began to flourish in the early 1990s, after being established by a small family group of Anangu who had returned from other established communities. Watarru is now well established, with a school, store and a solar panel bank which provides the community with power.

Watarru is an Indigenous Protected Area which ensures that local Anangu continue their traditional practices for managing native flora and fauna and looking after country. Watarru is a culturally and biologically significant area containing some of the highest diversity of reptile species in the world and supporting populations of rare and endangered species. A number of species of conservation significance have been found including mallee fow), great desert skink and the marsupial mole.


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