Wurrumiyanga (formerly Nguiu) is the largest community on the Tiwi Islands, and is located on the south-eastern coast of Bathurst Island. It is acknowledged as the ‘capital’ of the Islands and houses the main administrative and finance divisions of Tiwi Islands Local Government. In 2016 Wurrumiyanga’s population was 1,410.
Originally the site of the Catholic Mission in 1911, by the mid-1950s Wurrumiyanga comprised a chapel, radio hut, presbytery, convent, hospital and many other buildings. There were extensive fruit and vegetable gardens, a sawmill, and dairy cattle. Tiwi attached to the Mission lived on the foreshore in semi-permanent structures, while another group of Tiwi lived further inland and visited the Mission daily.
Today Wurrumiyanga is a modern community managed by the Wurrumiyanga Community Management Board under the Tiwi Islands Local Government umbrella. The Management Board is made up of 16 members who are elected through Skin Group meetings.
Facilities include a Centrelink Agency, EFTPOS facilities, Commonwealth Bank Agency and a Post Office, all located in the Management Board office complex. Other facilities include the Piliyamanyirra and NUA Supermarkets, take away food outlets, health clinic, pharmacy, recreation club, restaurant, police station, garage and workshop, childcare centre, respite centre, swimming pool, sport and recreation hall, two football ovals, market garden, and commercial accommodation. Wurrumiyanga also has a museum and is the Islands base for Tiwi Tours. Bima Wear is a fabric printmaking and clothing business located at Wurrumiyanga. Tiwi Designs produces artwork for sale both on and off Bathurst Island, as does Ngaruwanajirri, an arts centre which was originally set up for disabled residents but now includes all Tiwi artists.
Pirlangimpi community is located at Garden Point, on the north-west coast of Melville Island on the Apsley Strait. It was established from the stationing of a police officer at Garden Point in 1939, whose role was to act as ‘Sub-Protector of Aborigines’ and to control Japanese contact with the Tiwi. A number of ‘incorrigibles’ were taken from Darwin to Garden Point in the same year. In 1940, a Catholic Mission was established as an institution for part Aboriginal children, and the incorrigibles moved on to a new settlement at Snake Bay (Milikapiti). By 1943 the Garden Point Mission had a wharf, market gardens and dormitories.
In 1967, the settlement was taken over by the Commonwealth Government’s Welfare Branch, and in 1984 became Pirlangimpi under the NT Government’s new form of local government.
In 2016 Pirlangimpi’s population was 371, and the Pirlangimpi Community Management Board currently manages the community. Facilities include a Centrelink agency, EFTPOS facility, Commonwealth Bank Agency and a Post Office. Other facilities include a supermarket, health clinic, laundromat, library, recreation club, police station, garage and workshop, swimming pool, sport and recreation hall, football oval, and golf course. Pirlangimpi has a tourist fishing resort that offers guided tours and accommodation. Munupi Arts and Crafts Association at Pirlangimpi produces artwork for sale both on and off the islands.
Milikapiti is located on the north coast of Melville Island at Snake Bay. It was established as a Welfare Branch settlement in 1940 to take the ‘incorrigibles’ from Garden Point, and to prevent association between part Aboriginal children and traditional Aboriginal people.
During World War II, the settlement served as a military depot with construction of an airstrip and jetty, and all three services were represented in the area. Local men were enlisted as coastwatchers and provided outstanding service during the war. The Tiwi have continued their relationship with the Defence Service to this day.
As with Wurrumiyanga and Pirlangimpi, Milikapiti moved through welfare control to become managed under a Community Government Council in 1983. It is now managed by the Milikapiti Community Management Board under Tiwi Islands Local Government. In 2016 Milikapiti had a population of 374.
Facilities at Milikapiti include a Centrelink agency, EFTPOS facility and a postal facility located in the Management Board Office. Within the community there is a large modern store, commercial accommodation, health clinic, recreation club, garage and workshop, sport and recreation hall, football oval and a tourist fishing resort. Jilamara Arts and Crafts Association produces artwork for sale both on and off the islands and also houses a museum.
Wurankuwu outstation was established in 1994 as a resource centre and a population centre for people with links to the central west of Bathurst Island. It is located on the western side of Bathurst Island approximately 60 kilometres from Wurrumiyanga and has an estimated population of 50. Wurankuwu has a store, a sports and recreation club, an oval and a primary school.
The Tiwi College is a boarding school located at Pickataramoor in the southern part of Melville Island. The College, which was established in 2008, is owned and operated by the Tiwi people through the Tiwi Education Board, representing all Tiwi families and communities. The Elders of the Tiwi Land Council chose Pickataramoor as the site of the Tiwi College due to its central location relative to the three main communities on the islands. The Tiwi Land Council also has its islands’ headquarters at Pickataramoor.
A small number of people live at five outstations on Melville Island, including Paru, Taracumbi, Yimpinari (Condor Point), Takamprimilli and Pitjimirra. Four Mile Outstation is located on Bathurst Island.