Our Story

A colourful map of Australia sections each state with its own colour. An icon shows the location of Mandjawuy in the NT

Our place

Welcome to our place – East Arnhem Land. Our people, the Yolngu, have lived here for countless generations.

Our homeland community of Mandjawuy is beautiful but it’s also remote and maintaining regular services can be tough. The nearest town, Yirrkala, is three hours away.

Our community consists of our homes, a school house, a health clinic and a bush airstrip. About 30 Yolngu call this place home.

It is our place where our culture lives and where we can teach our kids in a safe environment.

Our challenge

Funding for remote education is always a challenge and the future of our school is uncertain.

Our school is bicultural which means our kids are taught English in the context of our traditional knowledge. It keeps our culture and our identity alive. If our school closes, we will lose our kids to the problems of bigger towns - overcrowded houses, alcohol and drugs, poor health and no future.

We also need jobs on our homeland, so we can be strong and independent.

We want to keep our beautiful culture alive here in Mandjawuy. And we want to take control of our own future. That is why we decided to build this Knowledge Water business.

A montage of images shows the back of a man with a spear at the water's edge, a group of 3 children, and a person carving wood

Our Family History in


Our family has been dedicated to education in our region since Europeans first arrived at the beginning of last century.

We are the children and grandchildren of the great Yolngu leader, Wonggu, who guided our people through the difficult period of white settlement from the 1920s to the 1950s.

For centuries before, our people had interacted with the Macassan traders of south east Asia, so the Yolngu already had ways of thinking and living that helped us adapt to very different cultures without being overwhelmed by them.

Wonggu was determined that his family would survive and prosper despite the massive changes our people faced during this time.

He made sure that his children were educated in European knowledge as well as our traditional knowledge so they could navigate a path through both worlds in the future.

One of Wonggu’s daughters married Dula Ngurruwutthun who was a senior ceremonial leader and also understood the power of knowledge in all cultures.

Dula was critical in the foundation of bilingual education in East Arnhem Land and painted a section of the Barunga Statement which was presented to former Prime Minister Bob Hawke requesting a treaty between the Australian Government and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Mandjawuy family leader, teacher and school principal Nalwarri Ngurruwutthun painting on a large canvas

Dula’s eldest daughter, Nalwarri Ngurruwutthun, became a tertiary qualified teacher and a school principal. Nalwarri was one of the leaders of bilingual education in our region for decades and the original driving force for the Knowledge Water business.

Today our family is just as committed to education and independence for our people as Wonggu, Dula and Nalwarri were.

A long rectangular painting of Munyuku wanga - the country of the Munyuku clan. This is an Indigenous artwork.

Munyuku Wanga

We belong to the Munyuku clan and this painting shows Munyuku wanga – our country. This is a place where water mixes to create power and knowledge.