Alice Springs Town Camps

Alice Springs Town Camps officially called Alice Springs Community Living Areas are Aboriginal communities within Alice Springs in the Northern Territory of Australia. Their origins vary. Many were originally designed to accommodate people visiting Alice Springs from remote communities but, for many, they have become a permanent and often generational home.[1][2]


Alice Springs Town Camps began as early as the 1880s when Europeans first came to Central Australia following John McDouall Stuart's expedition, which was soon followed by pastoralists and, from 1872, the telegraph line and the establishment of the Alice Springs Telegraph Station.[3] As a direct result this Aboriginal people were forced from their lands and their camps, then called fringe camps, initially served as convenient ration distribution points and labour camps.[4]

By the 1900s opposition to the camps grew and various measures were attempted to remove them, including forced 'evacuations' to surrounding missions, like the Sacred Heart Mission at Arltunga, 1929 and 1960. The township of Alice Springs was also declared a prohibited area for Aboriginal people from 1929-1960.[4][5]

However, things changed in the 1970s when town campers begun demanding land tender, shelter and services and, in 1977, when they established the town camp governing body Tangentyere Council. Tangentyere is an Arrernte word meaning 'all speaking together'.[4]

There are now between 1600 - 2000 people living in town camps permanently, many of whom receive many visitors from remote communities. The number of people living in the camps can almost double during major events in Alice Springs like the football carnival and the Alice Springs Show.[6]

Each camp is a distinct Aboriginal community, based on language and kinship groups.[6]

Existing Town Camps

The following aims to be a comprehensive list of town camps:

Town Camps
Town Camp Name Alternative Name Pronunciation Meaning Language Tenure
Mpwetyerre Abbotts, BP UM-BUTCHER-RAH Place name Arrernte, Warlpiri, Luritja, Pitjantjatjara Special purpose lease
Basso's Farm Place name Arrernte, Kaytetye, Anmatyerre, Alywarre Special purpose lease
Anthelk Ewlpaye Charles Creek, Kunoth UN-DERLK OOL-PIE Gum leaf Arrernte, Anmatyerre Special purpose lease
Ilperle Tyathe Warlpiri ILP-ERL-A-CHATA Ta Away/Ti Tree Warlpiri Special purpose lease
Karnte KARNTA Women's head dress Luritja, Pitjantatjara Crown lease
Hoppy's Warlpiri Special purpose lease
Akngwertnarre Morris Soak UK-NOORT-NARA Place Name Arrernte, Warlpiri Special purpose lease
Anthepe Drive In UN-DUPPA Dreamtime dance, women's dancing Arrernte, Warlipiri, Luritja, Pitjantatjara Special purpose lease
Aper-Alwerrknge Palmer's UPPER AL-OORK-NA Sinewy gum Arrernte Special purpose lease
Ewyenper Atwatya Hidden Valley OO-YEN-PER-A TWAH-JA Spearbush gap Arrernte, Warlpiri Special purpose lease
Ilperenye Old Timers ILL-PA-RINYA Green beetle Arrernte, Warlpiri, Luritja, Pitjantatjara Special purpose lease
Inarlenge Little Sisters INN-ARLUNG-AH Porcupine, Echidna Arrernte, Warlpiri, Luritja, Pitjantatjara Crown lease
Mount Nancy Place name Arrernte, Kaytetye, Amatyerre, Alywarre Special purpose lease
Yarrenyty-Arltere Larapinta YARR-WRENCH ARL-DER-AH White devil dog Arrernte, Pertame, Luritja Special purpose lease
Nyewente Trucking Yards NEW-OONDA Place name Arrernte, Luritja Special purpose lease
Ilparpa IL-PAR-PA Yam, Bush tucker Arrernte, Pertame, Luritja Special purpose lease
Ilpiye Ilpiye Golder's ILP-EE ILP-EE Needlewood bush, Women's head dress Arrernte, Kaytetye Special purpose lease
Lhenpe Artnwe Anmatyerre LUN-PA ART-NWE Emu feathers, decoration in arm pit Arrernte, Warlpiri, Anmatyerre Special purpose lease
Anhelke Namatjira's/Driffen's UN-EARL-KA Full of corkwood honey Arrernte Unofficial town camp
Irrkerlantye White Gate EAR-KER-LUNGE Kitehawk Arrernte Unofficial town camp


  1. "Alice Springs Town Camps". Office of Township Leasing. 11 July 2017. Retrieved 13 November 2019.
  2. Government, Northern Territory (13 April 2018). "Frequently asked questions". Retrieved 13 November 2019.
  3. "Heritage & History Of The Alice Springs Telegraph Station". Alice Springs Telegraph Station. Retrieved 13 November 2019.
  4. Coughlan, Frances Mary (1991). Aboriginal town camps and Tangentyere Council : the battle for self-determination in Alice Springs (Thesis thesis).
  5. "A colonial chronology of Alice Springs | Central Land Council, Australia". Retrieved 13 November 2019.
  6. "Tangentyere Council - About Us". Retrieved 13 November 2019.


Further reading

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