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Pukatja (Ernabella) Community is located in the Musgrave Ranges in South Australia about 30 km south of the Northern Territory border. It lies approximately 330 km south west of Alice Springs as the crow flies.

Pukatja is an Anangu community on the Pitjantjatjara Lands in the north west of South Australia. The Pitjantjatjara/Yankunytjatjara Lands are held on freehold title under the terms of the Anangu Pitjantjatjara/Yankunytjatjara Land Rights legislation. People not covered under the terms of this legislation require permits to enter and work on the Pitjantjatjara/Yankunytjatjara Lands.

In the 1930s, two Protestant Christian missions were established; one at Warburton (WA) and the other at Ernabella (SA). The population at Ernabella has remained static since the mid-forties to the present time. The Church passed over control to the Government in the early seventies.

Kinship ties cover three groups within Northern Territory, Western Australia and South Australia. These are the Pitjantjatjara, Ngaanyatjarra, and Yankunytjatjara peoples. Many people have ownership status to specific areas of land in the region around Pukatja. Homelands, consisting of two or three families, are serviced from Pukatja.

Distance from Adelaide: Entry to the Pitjantjatjara/Yankunytjatjara Lands, when travelling from Adelaide is usually made near Indulkana, which is approximately 1,200 kms north of Adelaide on the main road to Alice Springs. All roads on the Pitjantjatjara/Yankunytjatjara Lands are unsealed. Ernabella is a further 200kms by road via Indulkana, Mimili, and Fregon.

Distance from Alice Springs: 450kms. Travelling south from Alice Springs you can turn west onto the Victory Downs road soon after Kulgera and then south through to Ernabella. Alternatively you can fly on the PY Air mail plane which arrives in Ernabella on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons before returning to Alice Springs. Bookings on PY Air are essential.

Commercial/Industrial and Shopping Facilities

Store: Ernabella has a store and clinic as well as a fuel supply outlet. Many Anangu are employed in a range of work opportunities including craft, media, administration, health and essential services. The community store sells a variety of basic grocery items, clothing and even hot food. The store provides EFTPOS facilities and will cash cheques. During the week the store is open for 2 hours in the morning (Mon to Sat) and 2 hours in the afternoon (Mon to Fri). The truck delivers every Friday.

Garage: ‘Spare Parts’ sells a few basic supplies as well as Diesel and Avgas (aviation fuel). The latter is suitable for older petrol cars that have no catalytic converter. Petrol is available at Marla and Ernabella but storage is a problem because petrol sniffers can get desperate and will break into cars when given the slightest chance.

Other Local Facilities

Medical services: The clinic is staffed by 3 registered nurses and the doctor on the Lands lives in Ernabella although he is often out of Ernabella at other communities. The clinic also has Anangu Health Workers. The clinic can assist with emergencies, as can the RFDS, but you are advised to bring all known required medical supplies as clinic supplies are basic.

Mail: The school has its own mail bag. Mail is flown in and out on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Housing: A variety of transportable housing is available for support staff. Houses have gas heating and cooking facilities and evaporative air conditioning. TV aerials are supplied but you will need a male to male connector. The community retransmits the ABC (Northern Territory) and Imparja. All houses have the phone connected.

Local Government body :The community has its own local council but the overarching governing body is AP (the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Council) with offices in Alice Springs and Umuwa (on the Lands).

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