My Australian desert town of Yeundumu

Bernadette Thin is from Vietnam and has spent many years among the Warlpiri people in the Central Australian desert.

Bernadette Thin and her friendsBernadette Thin and her friends

Yuendumu is a small town, which lies two hundredand eighty nine kilometres north west of Alice Springs on the Tanami Road. Yuendumu was founded in 1946 by the Australian government. In 1955 many local Warlpiri were settled in Yuendumu.

It is a community largely made up of Warlpiri and Amatyerr Aboriginal people. Yuendumu is located within the Aboriginal Land Trust area on traditional and multicultural Amatyerr and Warlpiri land. Yuendumu is surrounded by hills with beautiful views. Yuendumu is 22 square kilometres and has a population of more than eight hundred.

About 250 kilometres northwest of Yuendumu lies Numont Mine which mines gold in the large, beautiful, red, central desert of the Northern Territory.

The language is English and local Indigenous languages. The religion is mostly Christian. There are Protestant, Baptist and Roman Catholic Churches. The climate is very hot during the summer. It reaches 35-45C, but winter is cold with temperatures descending to -5C. The sky is wonderful and bright.

The local organizations include WYDAC, the police and the mediation and justice centre. At school the children learn English and Warlpiri. There is also a Clinic staffed by doctors and nurses who are very  patient and kind.

The Warlukurlangu Art CentreThe Warlukurlangu Art Centre

The art centre, called Warlukurlangu began in 1980. It is very active in desert art. Yuendumu art is sold all over the world. There is a Women’s Centre, a safe house and a programme for the elderly. The airstrip is always ready for emergencies and sometimes the magistrate attends the court. Yuendumu has a post office, child care, Centrelink and mechanics workshop. There are three shops where you can also buy ‘a take away’. In Yuendumu there is water and solar electricity for everyone. There is also a morgue and a cemetery. The media company, PAW Media, runs television and radio and produce ‘movies’ such as ‘Bush mechanic’ and ‘Aboriginal rules’ as well as Community programmes and music.

Sport's DaySport's Day

There is a sport’s weekend in August which is very popular. 3000 people came to Yuendumu last year. Yuendumu  participates in all the local matches and has always won many cups, medals, including gold, in the Central Desert Sports Championship.

Yuendumu has a cutting edge youth programme. There are football, basketball and softball competitions during the winter and a swimming pool which is very popular!

There is training for young men in traditional Aboriginal culture and initiation ceremonies.  WYDAC supports the youth and the children are very happy.

Yuendumu has programmes to develop English for adults at the learning Centre. Families feel safe and disputes resolved. Many new houses have recently been built and everyone is proud of their town.

Barbeques are very popularBarbeques are very popular

The Yuendumu community all work together to  keep their town clean, taking it in turns to clean up the roads. Each Sunday morning people pray together. They pray for peace in the world and for those who are sick and suffering. When someone dies nearly everybody attends the funeral  and generally support each other in times of trouble. Sometimes the leaders and elders from different backgrounds get together to share their feelings about the past. Many have made a commitment to build reconciliation and to keep the peace in the community. It is the custom to meet and to share food. Barbeques are popular and everybody feels at home.

From around the worldFrom around the world

Meanwhile in different countries around the world such as Ukraine , Nigeria and Syria there is war, terrorism, violence and poverty. In Yuendumu a big moon lights up the sky, the moon shines so brightly! The night sky is full of moonlight and  all the windows in Yeundumu shine too!

'Light be for us, light behind us, light under our feet, light within us, light over us, let all around us be light. Peace before us, peace behind us, peace under our feet, peace within us, peace over us. Let all around us be peace.' Prayer for peace by David Haas.

Light fills us with joy and peace.

The Warlpiri have always done things their own way and Yuendumu today is a community known for its energy and vitality. The Aboriginal people are the oldest continuing culture in human history.

We want to choose our own future!We want to choose our own future!