Alpurrurulam

The name of the community Alpurrurulam was taken from the traditional name of the lake now known as Lake Nash.

“This waterhole where we live was Aboriginal place long time before white man came. It was Aboriginal place before it became ‘pastoral lease’. It is business country for us. Our law does not change.
"You say you cannot help us while we stay here. But your government has the power in the Crown lands Act to get country for us here, a compulsory acquisition. The King Ranch has a big station here, over 8500 square km. We only need about one square km to stay here, on our long time home.
"We ask you to help us with your law. This is our final decision. We don’t need more meetings to talk about it. We will not change our minds. We are staying here in our place, Lake Nash.”

Excerpts taken from a letter written by the community to Chief Minister Paul Everingham, 6 December 1982 (Pg 129, We are Staying │The Struggle for Land at Lake Nash │By Pamela Lyon and Michael Parsons)

Alpurrurulam lies on an important source of water in a dry country. Pastoralists called the place Lake Nash, but its Aboriginal name is Ilperrelhelame In the time of the Dreaming, great beings passed through that country: antyipere, the flying fox, nyemale, the grass rat, who partly formed the river and kwerrenye, the green snake.

Compared to other groups in the Barkly Tablelands contact with white people came relatively late. Until about 1920, the Alyawarre continued to live traditionally in relative peace, hunting emu and kangaroo and foraging over their country and enjoying a rich ceremonial life. That life was nearly extinguished during that era when Aborigines were randomly shot at or subject to drought, disease and hunger. Despite the cruel and violent past, Lake Nash was considered “good boss country” by Aboriginals and many went to work on the station there – a vital part of the cattle industry that later tried to displace them.

History: Alpurrururlam was formed out of a discord between Lake Nash Station and the Aboriginal population living on the nearby Georgina River. At the time many of the community members worked at Lake Nash Station but in the early 1980s there were plans to move the community to Bathurst Downs. For the locals this was “poison country”, no good to live on and posed a risk during wet season. They wanted to stay at Alpurrurulam – their home where there was water in the river all year round. In 1982 the community wrote to the then Chief Minister of the Northern Territory Government requesting a parcel of land to call their own near Lake Nash Station. After many legal battles, 10 square km area was excised from the pastoral lease and given back to the community in 1983. Alpurrurulam Land Aboriginal Corporation (ALAC) was then formed to be the land owner (a board of Community Elders) for the land. This is what is now called Alpurrurulam.

Services: Barkly Regional Council Alpurrurulam Service Centre and municipal yards, Aged Care, Night Patrol, Sport and Recreation, Centrelink, Post Office, Warte Alparayetye community owned store, Alpurrurulam Community School (until Year 9), Rainbow Gateway – new community development program.

Infrastructure: Laundry construction - June 2014, road upgrades - June 2014, regional fencing - 2015.

Wind farm: Three 15kW wind turbines were installed into the community in November 2011, producing about 12kW of electricity a day.

Solar farm: A hybrid solar-diesel power system was also installed in 2011-2012. It has 1500 solar panels which produce 180kW of electricity a day. The system is integrated into the existing diesel power station, so when the solar drops off the diesel kicks in. Up to 80 per cent of the power used during the day in this community is supplied by either the sun or the wind. Alpurrurulam now has one of the lowest rates of diesel consumption in the Northern Territory.

Airport: Built in 2007, the runway is 1200m long by 22m wide. There are planes to Mt Isa for health appointments once a week with a special mail plane on Fridays.