The town mostly consists of a roadhouse used as a stop off point for travellers heading to Purnululu National Park. The Aboriginal managed community has a population of around 400 people and is renowned for producing a number of internationally recognised artists.
Warmun was previously called Turkey Creek after a nearby waterway, but is now named in the local Gija peoples language.
Warmun's beginnings were far from auspicious. Turkey Creek was established in 1901 as a government depot to distribute rations to Aboriginal people forced off their land by pastoralists in the late 1880s. Many were forced onto government cattle stations through government coercion where conditions were little better. In the 1970s, some Gija people, fed up with dispossession and poverty, asked for government assistance to establish a community at Turkey Creek. Slowly, Gija people related by language gravitated in from the stations and settled into small camps till a permanent settlement was established in 1977. It is now one of the largest Aboriginal communities in the Kimberley.
The Warmun community has strived to maintain a strong culture and tradition. The community owned roadhouse and Art Center are an important part of enabling their social and economic independence. The original Art Centre was established in 1998 inside the former post office until it moved to a modern custom built space in 2007.
Warmun Aboriginal Art
Art in Warmun arose in the late 70s from the traditional Girrirr Girirr dance ceremony that was derived from stories told by preeminent Warmun artist Rover Thomas. As a forerunner of present-day art, he began painting plywood boards, that were held behind the heads of dancers, with designs imparted to him by the spirit of a relative who described her journeys in the afterlife. His masterful paintings depicting his particular vision of the Kimberley landscape were noticed by collectors and his reputation as an artist in his own right grew. The state gallery in Perth holds many of his finest works. Other artists, including Shirley Purdie, Queenie McKenzie and Patrick Mung Mung have since followed Rover Thomas to gain international recognition as leading Indigenous artists.
During the dry season average maximum temperatures reach 35°C and hit a humid 40°C during the wet.
- From Broome – Greyhound make a daily run to Warmun (Their schedule insist on calling it Turkey Creek), taking about 12hrs to arrive at 6AM.
- From Kununurra – A daily Greyhound bus takes a little over 2 hours, arriving inconveniently at 8PM.
Warmun has an airstrip enabling the possibility of getting a charter flight from Kununurra or Broome. Although, unless you have a lot of money and very little time you might as well stick to the road.
The town doesn't extend much further a few steps from than the roadhouse. The community itself is across the road from the roadhouse but travellers are prohibited from entering without an invitation.
- Warmun Art Centre, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. M-F 9AM-4PM. The centre is run by a thriving collective of artists who's work draws on traditional Ngarrangkarni (Dreaming) stories and the more prosaic events of daily life. Painting is the mainstay, but recent diversions into prints, jewellery, sculpture and craft have bolstered their range. Natural ochres and pigments are used in paintings, lending them a decidedly earthy patina and craft items use local materials. The centre provides meaningful work and a source of independent income for residents and profits from artwork are returned for the communities benefit. A verbal invitation to enter the community and visit the gallery must be gained by calling beforehand.
- Fly over Purnululu (Slingair scenic helicopter flights), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Helicopter flights over the Bungle Bungle Range leave daily from the nearby airstrip, usually packed with cashed up amateur photographers eager to hang their lens out the window to get a shot that looks exactly like the one in the brochure.The operators base is in Kununurra but you can make reservations at the roadhouse or by calling their office. Flights operate Apr to Oct and last 18-45mins. $205-495.
The roadhouse has a general store with basic supplies.
Typical takeaway food is available at the roadhouse.
Warmun is a dry community therefore alcohol is not available for sale and it would be respectful to keep your beer drinking for elsewhere.
- Warmun Roadhouse Caravan Park and Motel, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Mostly shaded powered sites with a shower block and grassed areas around a swimming pool to make things comfortable. A secure caravan storage compound is available if you want to leave it behind while roughing it in Purnululu. Self contained donga style units with double and single beds are the epitome of basic, but it will have to do if you didn't bring your own accommodation. Sites $20-$28; Rooms $50-$135.
An Australia Post agency is in the roadhouse.
- Kununurra – A comfortable base from which to explore the many natural attractions and eat a decent meal
- Purnululu National Park (Bungle Bungle Range) – A striking jumble of striped sandstone domes is one place that truly deserves to be described as a must see.