A timeline of the Warumungu since European contact and the development of the Manungurra Aboriginal Corporation

19th Century

1860-1986 Conflict encapsulation displacement and the beginning of recovery
1860 John McDouall Stuart, the first non-Aboriginal person to enter the area, was turned back at a place he called Attack Creek by a large group of armed Warumungu
1870-1 The first pastoralists arrive and there is further conflict including killings at Attack Creek and Powell Creek
1872 A Telegraph repeater station is established at Tennant Creek at Jurnkurakurr, one of the most important dreaming sites
1874 Kaytetye attack Barrow Creek Telegraph station to the south, killing two. Punitive reprisal parties take a high death toll on Warumungu, Kaytetye, Anmatyerre, Alyawarre and Warlpiri people
1878 The first “overlander”, Nat Buchanan, crosses the Barkly Tableland with 1200 head of cattle. Almost all of the land has already been taken up by pastoral leases though many were not stocked until the 1880s
1892 150 sq. miles east of Tennant Creek is gazetted as Warumungu Reserve

20th Century

1901 Spencer and Gillen record the flourishing ceremonial life of a well-fed, healthy people 1915 the Chief Inspector of Aboriginals reports the 100 people camped near Tennant to be in a state of semi-starvation.
1910-40 A second wave of pastoral expansion in Warumungu territory takes up the remaining good land.
1913 Wolfram is found at Hatches Creek 1932 Gold is discovered, triggering a gold rush to Tennant Creek.
1934 W.E.H. Stanner reports the Warumungu are in a sorry state, receiving inadequate rations but cut off from traditional hunting grounds. They are scattered over a wide area and cattle are being grazed on the
Warumungu reserve land, competing for water and feed in the driest ‘wet’ for 60 years. Mining also encroaches and a new reserve, with no permanent water is gazetted. 80-90% of the new reserve is spinifex desert.
1943 Warumungu are moved to 6 Mile Depot, an Australian Inland Mission further west. The 6 mile is abandoned within two years due to lack of water.
1945 Another new ‘temporary’ settlement begins at Phillip Creek, which also lacks permanent water. As a temporary settlement there is little money for proper housing and people set up camp in bush shelters. Children are housed in dormitories at the mission and separated from parents.
1952 Native Affairs takes over Phillip Creek from AIM and part Aboriginal children are forcibly removed.
1954 The Warumungu are moved to a new settlement at Warrabri, on Kaytetye and Alyawarre country. The mix of tribal groups causes lasting conflict and many Warumungu drift back to Tennant Creek.
1962 The original reserve is finally formally revoked and there is not even a token reserve for Warumungu to return to.
1977 Warumungu and Alyawarre walk off Kurundi Station in protest over conditions there and establish themselves on the claim area.
1978 The Warumungu Land Claim is lodged over the few remaining traditional lands. The NT Government extends the Tennant Creek town boundaries to 30 times their current size, and then reduces them to 240 sq. km
31 Oct. 1982 NT Government secretly alienates 9 of the 12 areas of the claim 1 Nov. Land Commissioner Sir W Kearney begins examining the claim and accepts the traditional landowners offer not to include areas required for the abattoir, hobby farms and golf club Dec. Commissioner Kearney rules he has no jurisdiction over the 9 areas secretly alienated. The claimants appeal to the High Court.
1983 The High Court hears the appeal.
1984 High Court rules that the secret alienations do not prevent the claim going ahead.
March 1985 A new hearing begins under Justice Michael Maurice.
Sept. 1985 Aboriginal claimants respond to call by Commissioner for a compromise solution for the claim area adjoining the Tennant Creek town area.
Oct. 1985 NT Government appeals to the Federal Court for access to sources for claim documents.
Nov. 1985 NT Government rejects two of three basic principles in a compromise offer but requests further details.
Feb. 1986 Full Federal Court hears the NT Government’s appeal for access to documents.
March 1986 NT Government loses Federal Court appeal.
27 Mar. 1986 Justice Maurice rules he has jurisdiction to hear the claim over areas included in the town boundary areas extended after the claim was lodged.
April 1986 NT Government appeals to Federal Court against Maurice’s ruling that the town boundary extension does not cancel the claim in that area.
July 1986 NT Government issues a writ to prohibit Justice Maurice from considering stock route/reserves as part of the claim an appeal is made to the High Court against the Federal Court’s ruling on access to documents.
August 1986 NT Government acquires land from Tennant Creek pastoral lease, including the Old Telegraph Station and two important sacred sites, and grants a lease to a Government created Land Corporation

Oct.1986 NT Government appeals against ‘errors’ (miss-descriptions) in the original land claim application.
Nov. 1986 NT Government’s appeal against ‘errors’ is dismissed. NT takes its appeal to the Federal Court. Meanwhile the Federal Court dismisses the NT Government’s appeal against Justice Maurice’s ruling that the claim can proceed within the new town boundaries.
Dec. 1986 NT Government appeals to the Full Federal Court against the town boundaries decision. The High Court dismisses the Government’s appeal over the Full Federal Court’s decisions to refuse access to the source documents.
Jan. 1987 NT Government still unwilling to consider terms of compromise offer by claimants.
Feb. 1987 Full Federal Court hears appeal against dismissal of the NT Government’s ‘errors’ complaint.
March 1987 Justice Maurice publicly expresses frustration at the lack of progress on the compromise offer. NT Government applies to Justice Maurice to disqualify himself from the Land Claim. Justice Maurice declines. NT Government appeals to the Full Federal Court.
April 1987 Full Federal Court hears appeal and decides in favour of Justice Maurice. The NT Government accepts the Federal Court’s decision.
July 1988 Justice Maurice reports on his recommendations. Aboriginal Land Commissioner Justice Olney handed down his report titled: Warumungu Land Claim Commissioner’s Report recommending the granting of land known as the South Barkly Stock Route running through Rockhampton Downs and Brunchilly Stations.
May 1991 The first part of the Warumungu land claim is handed back – 2852 square kilometres or less than half of the land recommended for grant. The hand back is made possible by the acceptance by the NT Government of a compromise offer on land near the town.
Dec 1992 Title to 3,090 square kilometres of the claim recommended for grant handed back at Kurraya outstation east of Tennant Creek.

21st Century

2003–2004 Nebo Holdings sell Banka Banka/Brunchilly to S. Kidman & Co.
2004 Groote Eylandt Mining Company Pty Ltd, and representatives of the Kunapa / Kurininja / Mangirriji / Jalajirrpa / Yapa yapa and pirrija and the Northern Land Council sign an agreement for a proposed grant of a mining lease.
2006 Manungurra Aboriginal Corporation registered with ORIC.
2011 CLC AAMC assumes responsibility for financial and administrative support services.
2011 May–July OM (Mines) Ltd damaged sacred site at Bootu mine.
2013 August OM Manganese Ltd was fined $150,000 in the Darwin Magistrates’ Court for one count of desecration to, and one count of damaging, the ‘Two Women Sitting Down’ sacred site at their Bootu Creek manganese mine on Banka Banka station, 170km north of Tennant Creek.

Source: Graeme Smith 2011 Adapted from the CLC submission to the Warumungu Land Claim 1994


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