Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 June 2012
Location and meaning of the word Yuendumu
Yuendumu is located near the south–eastern edge of the extent of traditionally owned Warlpiri land with Anmatyerre land to the east, Pintubi/Luritja land to the south and Kukatja land to the west. It is the largest community in Central Australia, with the exception of Alice Springs. The Community Government area comprises 22,242 sq km and Traditional Owners control the land. Entry permits are required by visitors intending to stay overnight or to visit for a greater period of time. Most Yuendumu residents are Warlpiri speakers with minor groups of Anmatyerre, Luritja, Kukatja and Pintubi speakers. It lies in true “Red Centre” country, experiencing the hot days and cold nights of inland Australia. Access is via about 140 km single lane bitumen Tanami Road with the remainder being formed dirt (Northern Territory Police, 2006).
The Warlpiri word “Jukurrpa” means dreaming and it is central to understanding Warlpiri culture and law. The place name “Yuendumu” is also associated with dreaming, as it is a derivative of the word “Yurntumulya', which means Dreaming Woman (Napaljarri and Cataldi, 2003). The Warlpiri call the area “Yurtumu” whilst the white administration, when creating a ration depot in 1946, decided to call it “Yuendumu'. A report from the Administration of the Northern Territory in June 1946 stated that the name had been chosen as it was “a native name for a line of hills in the immediate vicinity” (Carrington, 1946).