Lajamanu Community Health Centre
PMB 108 Katherine NT 0852
P: 08 8975 0870 | F: 08 8975 0903
The community of Lajamanu has a population of approximately 1,000 people and is situated around 560km from Katherine and is approximately 890km from Darwin.
The access road (Buntine Hwy) has a restricted load limit after heavy rain but is rarely cut. Access to the community is however cut by creeks, which rise above the Buntine Highway. A permit is normally required from the Central Land Council to visit. Washouts can occur on Lajamanu Rd during the wet season. Please consult www.roadreport.nt.gov.au for details on road conditions.
Lajamanu was established as a welfare settlement in the 1950s . Local government began in 1970s. Lajamanu, formerly Hooker Creek, is an Aboriginal community in semi-arid country on the edge of the Tanami Desert.
This country, with its spinifex grasses and acacias, about halfway between Darwin and Alice Springs, traditionally belongs to the Gurindji people, who now live over 100 km further north around Daguragu and Kalkarinji (Wave Hill).
In 1948 the Native Affairs Branch of the Federal Government decided to establish an Aboriginal Reserve at Catfish, a permanent waterhole almost 600 km north of Yuendumu; they decided that Yuendumu, a Warlpiri Aboriginal settlement about 290 km north west of Alice Springs and experiencing a drought, was getting overcrowded with ever more people from outlying areas coming to the settlement.
As the man driving the grader from Yuendumu to make the road to Catfish didn't know the way, two young Warlpiri men agreed to guide him. However, when they reached Supplejack, about 150 km short of Hooker Creek, they decided to walk back, as they now were in unknown country, something that really upset them. The men could walk all day, hunt for food and knew where to find water.
When the road to Catfish was completed, Welfare ordered 25 Warlpiri in a truck and drove them all the way to Hooker Creek where they camped. The creek was flowing, there was a bore and they decided to stay there instead of at Catfish, around 30 km further on.
Later, when the Hooker Creek dried up, they may have regretted it, but by that time the settlement was already established. The Welfare people had made up their mind to transport 400 Warlpiri people from Yuendumu to Hooker Creek and in 1951 another 150 people were put in trucks and taken there.
The people were very unhappy, taken away from their relatives, their country and its sacred places and dumped in Gurindji country: they all walked the 600 km back to Yuendumu! But they were rounded up again and trucked back to Hooker Creek, from where they walked back to Yuendumu a second time!
If ever one needed an illustration of how strongly Aboriginal people are tied to their own "country" it must be this epic tale. But after another transport back to Hooker Creek settlement people stayed; children were born here and although their spiritual homeland remained to the south, people started to call the place home.
A series of ceremonies were conducted in the late seventies in which the Gurindji of the Wave Hill area "handed over" the country and the "Dreaming" (Spectacled Hare Wallaby or Wampana) to the Warlpiri: a unique occurrence.
Local Government came in the seventies when Hooker Creek ceased to be a welfare settlement: the Lajamanu Council was the first Community Government Council to be formed in the Northern Territory.
People still go hunting in the spinifex country around and there are interesting places to explore, camp and swim throughout the year: Catfish, where the settlement should have been, is a favourite spot as is Sambo Rockhole on the Victoria river. Further afield is Nongra Lake, a salt lake towards the Western Australia border and around 240 km to the south is the gold mine at Tanami; a good 100 km beyond that is The Granites, another old gold mining site where some of the old people used to live and work; another 300 km on is Yuendumu.
Lajamanu Health Services Information
A permanent Health Centre serviced by a permanent doctor, Registered Nurses and Aboriginal Health Workers. A Dentist visits the communities annually. People/visitors suffering medical emergencies are evacuated to Katherine and Darwin Hospitals.
Health Programs running in the community:
Meals On Wheels — Yes.
School screening — Annually.
Old people screening — Annually.
Well women checks — Ongoing.
Well men checks — Ongoing.
Under 5 screening — Ongoing.
Visiting Services to the Community:
Dentist — 3 five-day visits each year.
Dental Therapist — 2 five-day visits each year.
Physician — 6 monthly. Paediatrics — 6 monthly.
Ear, Nose & Throat — Twice each year.
Ophthalmology — Annually.
Optometrist — Annually.
Physiotherapy — As required.
Dietitian — Twice each year.
Occupational Therapist — Ad hoc.
Audiologist — Annually.
Mental health — every 6 – 8 weeks.
AIDS/STD screening — Annually.
Adult Assessment & Coordination Team — Yes.
Family Youth & Community Services — Frequent visits.
Environmental Health Officers — Twice each year.