Jilkminggan History

In the beginning

Jilkminggan in the 1970s

9th August 1974, Mangarrayi families moved from Elsey Station to Jilkminggan (aka Djembere, Duck Creek).

Clancy Roberts together with his sisters Jessie Roberts and Sheila Conway and their husbands looked for a place to live.

We would also like to acknowledge the Elder Council which was set up with all our family elders to govern our community during the 1970-80’s which then ensued with the Jilkminggan Community Government Council until 2007. Those on the Elder Council were Jessie Roberts, Sheila Conway, Jimmy Conway, Splinter Harris, Jacko Lirriwe, Wilson James, Beetaloo John and Betty Lardy.

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Clancy Roberts

Elder/Leader for Mangarrayi people, supported by his wife Betty Roberts. He lead the move 3km West from Elsey Station to Djembere. A Committee member with Department Aboriginal Affairs for Excisions off Pastoral Lands.


Jessie Roberts

Elder/leader, Community President for Mangarrayi people and first Assistant Teacher for Djembre Community. With her husband Stanley James and sisters forged ahead with meeting Departmental Heads to progress their community.


Sheila Conway

Elder/leader for Mangarrayi people. Along with her husband Jimmy Conway and sisters, she
helped with Departmental visits and making decisions. Together with another elder Amy Dirrin-gaig, they were leaders in Manggarayi Language Lessons in school.


Betty Lardy

1970 found family and was welcomed back. Moved to Djembere 1989. Together with her husband Josef Lardy helped with correspondence from Departments, continued development of the first office which was initially setup by Rick Wiltshire, and tutoring at Jilkminggan Secondary School.

The move

The second hand galvanised iron used for housing was obtained by bringing what sheet iron families had at Elsey Station, which was bought by Elders pensions.

Early housing built by families when they first moved to Djembere.

Some more sheet iron became available through the Native Ward at Katherine Hospital as this was going to be demolished. Patrol Officer Kirk Whelan and Patrol Assistant Clancy Roberts undertook the demolition of the building and arranged for it to be transported to Djembere utilising Jim Braun’s truck, who was at the time one of the proprietors of the Mataranka Store.

More examples of early housing in the community

Why move? Managarrayi people wanted to move from Elsey Station

Living conditions were appalling at the Station and were directly responsible for high rates of infant mortality. At the time a Senate Inquiry commonly called the Gibb Report had just concluded. This report recommended that the Federal Government should excise land from pastoral properties and that the government should then provide basic essential services like power water sewerage and housing.

Djembere or Jilkminggan was possibly the first community established under the Gibb recommendations.

First public buildings


Djembere’s First School – 1974

Children were being transported to and from Elsey Station to go to school. In 1974 a bough shade was built so that children could attend school at Djembere. Education was a focus both for Government and later our elders who were determined to better our schools and provide good education for our children.


Djembere’s First Clinic Built mid to late 1970’s

FREEHOLD at last


1983 FREEHOLD TITLE for the then Djembere – being handed over to Jessie Roberts and Sheila Conway Elders, by the then Honorable Chief Minister, Paul Everingham.

Jilkminggan Excision

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Clancy Roberts helped families find places to settle throughout the Katherine Region through excisions off Pastoral properties, these became known as Community Living Areas.

Acknowledgement: NT History & Arts, Guyanggan Aboriginal Corporation, Kerry Dwyer and Jilkminggan Community Aboriginal Corporation.