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Aug 4, 2011

Intervention Sign Wars in the Tanami Desert...part 1,045

Pornography Drop-off Point. "This one is at the airstrip and is one of a pair. The other one is at the entrance to Yuendumu near the patronising “Look for People” sign. We inspect the bins daily. So far nothing has been placed in them. Anything we recover from the bins, we will incinerate."


Yuendumu Mining Company store

A few weeks ago some local wag at Yuendumu defaced (perhaps improved?) a couple of the big blue signs (see below) that the NT Intervention had posted around their town.

Soon after some anonymous officer of the law or government took equal offence at the defacement (?) and removed the offending (twice offending?) signs.

This appears to have kicked off the latests round of a local “sign war”, of which the sign above outside the Yuendumu Mining Company Store is but the latest shot.

That sign says “Yuendumu Mining Co. Est. 1969 Locally owned. Against the Intervention”.

You can read a bit more about the commercial reality facing the Yuendumu Mining Company Store – and the other locally-owned store, the “Big Shop“, in this piece of mine from Crikey in December 2008 here and about what the Yuendumu locals told Federal Indigenous Affair Minister Jenny Macklin what they thought about her NT Intervention here.

Meanwhile, here is the defaced – many would say improved – version of the notorious “blue” signs that caused a little kerfuffle a few weeks back.

Laugh? I nearly shit me pants!

Welcome to Yuendumu...

And here is the closest that I can find to the original “big blue” signs to which many locals – at Yuendumu and many other townships across the NT – took offence.

Original "blue" sign (sort of)

Frank Baarda is a Yuendumu local – he’s been there for 35 years or so – who has seen the Intervention and quite a few other Government attempts at “improving” the lives of local people come and more often than not go into the great beyond unlamented and well forgotten. But the Intervention is another thing altogether and he has kept a good number of us entertained by his occasional “Musical Dispatch From The Front”  over the past few years. (I just wish that someone would set up a blog for him…Liam, can you help?)

If you want to receive a copy of Frank’s infrequent, extremely funny, musically and linguistically enlightening – if not occasionally very confusing – missives then drop him a line at the Yuendumu Mining Company here: yuendumuminingco@bigpond.com. Don’t tell I told you to write…

Frank and his mates are nothing if not pro-active (to use Interventionese) and have been very much on the front foot while moving forward to engage…oh, you know what I mean. Frank advises that the latest local effort has involved, after extensive consultation, focus-group sessions and intensive product development, the creation of an innovative response to an urgent need. They have created “Pornography Drop-Off bins” at the entrances to the Yuendumu Township.

Yuendumu - Pornography Drop-off Point

Franks says that: “This one is at the airstrip and is one of a pair. The other one is at the entrance to Yuendumu near the patronising “Look for People” sign. We inspect the bins daily. So far nothing has been placed in them. Anything we recover from the bins, we will incinerate.

I look forward to Frank and the people of Yuendumu receiving some sort of civic good citizenship awards for their brave and forward-thinking efforts. Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch!

But this is – as I hinted above – just the latest salvo in the sign wars that have ricocheted around the Tanami Desert in recent years. A rather more celebrated sign – pointed firmly at the derriere of a certain prominent politician – was this effort still standing the last time I drove into Aboriginal land a few kilometres outside Yuendumu which loosely translated from the Warlpiri means either “Big Hole” (a universal insult in the NT) or “Busted Arsehole“. Take your pick.

Kevin Rudd= Kuna Rurrpa (big hole)

(Update) I forgot about this one!) And from some cleverdick somewhere in the wonderful interwebs comes this take on an alternate “Big blue” sign. I reckon its a beauty!

A rather more sensible "big blue" sign methinks...

And a wonderful array of signs were erected at nearby Wirliyajarrayi (aka Willowra) when the Australian Army first rolled into town with the Intervention around May 2008. Here is a selection.

"Please feel free to take over" Willowra 2008
"Army Recruitment Centre"
"Communications HQ"
"Tank Angle Parking"
"Beware Pointy Land Mines"

(UPDATE) And if you’ve made it this far Frank has a suggestion – that I wholeheartedly concur with – about one award that the NT Intervention may truly deserve. As Frank says:

The Australian Civic Trust conducts the annual Awards and Brickbats programme. I urge you to nominate the NT Intervention (aka the Northern Territory Emergency Response, Closing the Gap etc etc ) for a brickbat.

Nominations need not be long, a page is usually sufficient. Due to the presence on the jury of Miles Kemp, a reporter with the Adelaide Advertiser the accepted awards and brickbats usually get good coverage in that paper.

The deadline is 31st August.

For further information and nomination forms see this page at the web site of the Australian Civic Trust.



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7 thoughts on “Intervention Sign Wars in the Tanami Desert…part 1,045

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  5. ilolatu

    The Sex party would be strong in these electorates.

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  7. fredex


    Actually the new improved signs could do with an award.
    My favourite is …..”pointy land mines’.
    Then again maybe the one you think is a ‘beauty’.
    Then again….


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