Yuendumu is located near the south-eastern edge of the extent of traditionally owned Warlpiri land and is the largest community in Central Australia, with the exception of Alice Springs. Yuendumu and Lajamanu (Hooker Creek) - to the north - and their associated outstations are the main population centres for most Warlpiri speaking Aboriginal people today. Most of the inhabitants of Yuendumu are Warlpiri speakers with minor groups of Anmatyerre, Luritja, Kukatja, and Pintubi speakers.
The establishment of cattle stations in the area brought sustained contact with non-Aboriginal people and resulted in competition for land. The conflict and reprisals that followed the Coniston massacre in 1928, resulted in the dispersal of people from their traditional country. When Yuendumu became a major ration depot in 1946, large numbers of people moved there from the Granites and Bullocky Bore areas. Day-to-day decisions and the general running of the community is vested in the Yuendumu Community Council (Inc).
The Yuendumu Aboriginal Reserve was proclaimed on 1 May 1952, covering an area of 2,199km2. The formation of the Reserve dates back to travels through the area by Baptist Missionaries in 1946. The Reserve is part of the Schedule 1 land that became Aboriginal freehold in 1976, under the Commonwealth Aboriginals Land Rights Act. Yuendumu is now in the Yuendumu Aboriginal Land Trust Area.
In 1999, a substantial building program under National Aboriginal Health Strategy (NAHS), the Indigenous Housing Association of Northern Territory (IHANT) and the Housing Association’s building team resulted in a total of 24 new or renovated houses, a new sewerage system for the community and grassing on the ovals.
The main site of significance near the town site is the old cemetery. This cemetery is the original one used for the settlement and it is estimated that use of this area was discontinued at the end of the 1950s. The cemetery, now in use, is located well to the north of the town site. Other sites of significance are located outside of the immediate area.
The school has 27 staff including 10 teachers. The school is a two-way learning school with lessons in Warlpiri and English. There are around 150-200 students enrolled. Education is based on a “cradle to grave” philosophy and encompasses preschool, primary, post primary and secondary study to Year 10 by correspondence. The school runs a lunch program for kids, and provides fruit to each child daily. Adult education is linked to Batchelor College which has an onsite person to run individual programs. School of the Air is also available.
There are three sports ovals, four basketball courts and a youth centre. There are five local football teams participating in the regional competition in Alice Springs. In the off-season teams compete against each other. Members and locals enjoy social BBQs. Canoeing, bush walks and hiking.
There is a health centre located in the Yuendumu community. There are two vehicles allocated to the zone. Evacuations are usually by air from Yuendumu with the second option being by road. Patient assisted travel is available to patients from Yuendumu Health Clinic. At Yuendumu, the nurse staff are on-call locally after hours, on weekends and public holidays.
- Warlukurlangu Artist Centre at Yuendumu
- Newhaven Reserve run by Birds Australia
- Old Granite Gold Mine, found 60km south of Rabbit Flat Roadhouse and featuring the original 1930s buildings