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Working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

Kiwirrkurra IPA and Rangers

Lying in the sand hill country of the Gibson and Great Sandy deserts is the Kiwirrkurra Indigenous Protected Area (IPA), which was dedicated in 2014. Covering a massive 4.59 million hectares in Western Australia, it is home to the Kiwirrkurra people (Pintupi, Manyjilyjarra and Kukatja language speakers) – some of the last Aboriginal people to make contact with the outside world.

Kiwirrkurra is a living landscape, created and sustained by the Tjukurrpa (dreaming). The Tingari men and women travelled from the west creating the vast spinifex-covered plains of the Gibson Desert and leaving in their wake the sand dunes, waterholes and rocky outcrops. They travelled into the low lying clay pans of the Great Sandy Desert, encountered other creation ancestors, and disappeared into the blistering white expanse of Wilkinkarra, a huge salt lake.

Through the IPA, Kiwirrkurra Traditional Owners are combining their strong traditional land management skills with contemporary science to look after culture, country and people. The area is home to several nationally threatened species including the bilby (ninu) and great desert skink (tjalapa), as well as a host of important food and medicine plants and animals. 

Priorities for using and managing country include spending time on country to keep knowledge and connections alive; passing on knowledge from elders to younger people; actively managing the land through right-way burning, feral animal and weed control, and keeping water places healthy; and working with partners to bring in new ideas. 

In 2018, the IPA program was enhanced with the addition of a dedicated part-time ranger team. The Kiwirrkurra Rangers will focus on delivering on-ground land management outcomes; building their capacity through training and knowledge sharing with other ranger groups; engaging Kiwirrkurra school students; and working closely with the IPA rangers and elders on country.

WA - Central and Southern region
Project Website:
Administration Organisation
Desert Support Services
(08) 9425 2099
Yukultji, Rachel and Payu collecting bilby scats. Photo: © Kate Crossing
Yukultji, Rachel and Payu collecting bilby scats. Photo: © Kate Crossing