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Titjikala art and communityTitjikala (Tapatjatjaka) Community Art Centre


Titjikala is a small community located about 110 km south of Alice Springs, and has a population of approximately 300 people, whose primary languages are Luritja, Arrernte or Pitjantjatjara. The community is also known as Tapatjatjaka or Maryvale and the community art centre is called Tapatjatjaka Art and Craft Centre.

Titjikala region map

Arts and crafts have been produced by the community and marketed through the local art centre. Art works include paintings, batik, wood carving (punu), bush toys, ceramics, jewellery, T-shirts and fabrics.

Titjikala artists are also working on ceramics and wire sculptures that include animal and bird representations inspired by the surrounding environment.

The land for the traditional owners of the area stretches from Horseshoe Bend through to Chambers Pillar, the Titjikala community area, and then across to Mt Burrell, Mt Peachy and to Mt Frank.

Cowboy - David Wallace
Cowboy by David Wallace

These are traditional lands of Arrernte people. Several families living in Titjikala are traditional owners of the area around the community.

There are also people who have been living in the Titjikala area for several generations, but whose family members came from other areas. Their children, having been born in this area, are connected to its dreaming. Consequently, Titjikala has become the home to Arrernte, Luritja and Pitjantjatjara people.

The eagle and the gecko dreamings are significant to the Titjikala area and the Titjikala people. The country surrounding Titjikala is characterised by red sand-hills and desert oaks. Further to the south is the well known scenic feature Chambers Pillar, which plays an important role in the gecko dreaming.

Chambers Pillar
Chambers Pillar

History of Titjikala Community

From the 1940s onwards families came to the Maryvale Station to work as stockmen and as domestic helpers. The station owners provided rations to the people who resided and worked on their stations.

Aboriginal people started settling in the area in the 1950s, when a mission truck visited every six weeks. Families would work at the surrounding stations as stockman, cameleers and domestic staff.

At this time the people still lived in traditional humpies. Water was fetched from a well mainly by donkey wagons, but also by foot or by camel. Children and women would travel back and forwards most of the day collecting water from the well and carrying it to the humpy area. The community obtained its food from rations from the station (flour, salt and meat). People also collected bush tucker including goannas, kangaroos, witchetty grubs, bush tomatoes and bush bananas.

Then in the early 1960s the community built their own sheds, much like garages, with concrete slabs for flooring. At this time the station laid piping from a good bore with the help of the Aboriginal people to provide a tap near the new buildings. As part of the village a church was built in the same garage style. In the 1970s the first school was provided to the Titjikala people.

The community was originally a 200-hectare excision from the Francis Well water reserve and the stock route. It is within the Maryvale station pastoral lease, which was registered in 1978.

Titjikala community obtained freehold title to the excision in 1987 and in 1988 the Northern Territory Government gazetted the Titjikala control Plan, which places certain restrictions on land usage and development in the community.

Titjikala community
Houses in Titjikala Community


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