Ngururrpa Indigenous Protected Area formally launched by Traditional Owners on country after years of work

Published: 6 May 2021

'We need to show our younger people how to look after the land, we want to have rangers so we can look after the country. There are a lot of tourists going through but if they break down out there they might perish unless they know where water is.  We want to put up signs for their safety and to protect sensitive areas, it can be very dangerous in summertime.  We need to stop camels polluting the waterholes, we need to manage fire to bring back the fresh growth and to protect important places, 


Ngururrpa Indigenous Protected Area contains beautiful, precious and fragile desert landscapes. Declaration of Ngururrpa IPA will mean a greater presence of Traditonal Owners managing country. Photo credit: Parna Ngururrpa Aboriginal Corporation.

'I felt happy when I heard about the Indigenous Protected Areas because we want to take our young people out there and show them where their grandparents and great grandparents walked the country, keep them out of trouble in town, get them working hard on country, both young men and young ladies. Even school trips to educate them about that country. We know there are a lot of animals out there, kangaroo, emu and even Bilbies, we worked to put video cameras down Bilby holes.  They are hard to see but we took video of them, they are there, we need to look after them', Katherine Njamme, senior Traditional Owner for Ngururrpa Country.


Today is a day of celebration for the Traditional Owners of Ngururrpa Country- it is official  dedication day for the Ngururrpa Indigenous Protected Area!  

Ngururrpa means ‘Our Country in the Middle’ and is home to people from Malka Walmajarri, Wangkatjungka, Ngarti and Kukatja language groups. Located in the Great Sandy Desert in North Eastern Western Australia, the Ngururrpa IPA  is a whopping 2.9 million hectares in size!

The process leading up to this moment has been long and has involved many Traditional Owners working hard to make it happen. It’s just so wonderful to see this next step of the process happen. Traditional Owners’ hard work and connection to country is being recognised and put into a plan that is based on their knowledge, and their vision for their Country and people.


Traditional Owners on Country in the Ngururrpa Indigenous Protected Area. Photo Credit: Angie Reid.

Country Needs People are really proud to have played our small part in supporting the IPA through our advocacy and working with partners like Desert Support Services, Indigenous Desert Alliance and others. But ultimately this can only work with the leadership of Traditional Owners of Ngururrpa country.

All Australians benefit when Traditional Owners are supported to look after their country.  Our country benefits when the original owners are in the management decision making seat. Indigenous Protected Areas are another means of re-establishing management that was always there, but in a contemporary setting combining two knowledge systems. 

As Ms Njamme so beautifully puts it, IPA’s open up opportunities for people young and old to get out on country, pass on knowledge, learn new knowledge, look after culture, look after outsiders, and look after Country. All Australians benefit when Traditional Owners are supported to look after their own Country.

So, thank you Ngururrpa crew, Parna Ngururrpa Aboriginal Corporation, and congratulations on all your hard work. We’re excited to see what comes next!


Some Fast Facts:

  • Ngururrpa means ‘Our Country in The Middle.’ 
  • Ngururrpa Indigenous Protected area is 2.9 million hectares 
  • Ngururrpa Indigenous Protected Area will connect to a large network of neighbouring Indigenous Protected Areas in the desert in Western Australia and the over the Northern Territory border. 
  • Threatened species include marsupial mole, bilby, brush tailed mulgara and the famous night parrot. The IPA is highly significant for conservation of bilbies in particular. 
  • Rock engravings in the Ngururrpa IPA date back to at least 12,000 years and evidence of human occupation just outside the IPA boundary dates back at least 50,000 years. 
  • Ngururrpa language groups include Malka Walmajarri, Wangkatjungka, Ngarti and Kukatja peoples. Close neighbours are Pintupi to the South, Jaru to the North and Walpiri to the east. Language and stories are central to good management for traditional owners. 
  • Ngururrpa country varies from the wetter north to the drier south, it contains spinifex and sandplains, ground and surface water, and bushtucker like karnti (bush potato).