The Yalata Mission was established in 1954 by the Lutheran Church on a government Aboriginal reserve 130 miles east of Ceduna. Aboriginal people from Maralinga and the Ooldea Mission had been brought to the area in 1952. The Mission operated a school and other facilities for the residents of the reserve. In 1974 the Yalata Mission was transferred to the control of the Yalata Community Council.
The Yalata Mission was established in 1954 by the Lutheran Church on the former Yalata Sheep Station which had been purchased some years earlier by the government for an Aboriginal reserve. The one million acre property was situated approximately half way between Ceduna and the Koonibba Mission on the west coast of South Australia.
Aboriginal people from the Maralinga area and Ooldea Mission were moved hundreds of kilometres south from their traditional lands to the reserve at Yalata in 1952 to make way for the Long Range Weapons Organisation program out of Woomera and the British Government's atomic bomb tests at Maralinga. Lutheran Missionaries from Koonibba Mission assisted with the enforced move. The Aboriginal people from Ooldea lived on the reserve for two years before the Yalata Mission was established.
Newspapers from March 1954 reported that the Lutheran Church was ready to take over the Yalata Station to run as a Mission for Aboriginal people. Missionaries from Koonibba stated that they would teach the Aboriginal people at the Mission sheep farming.
Yalata Mission had a central core of administrative buildings, services, a school and a store. The population lived in two camps with the majority in the mobile 'Big Camp' which was moved to different sections of the reserve at different times during the year. 'Little Camp' housed Aboriginal mission workers and their families and some of the elderly or sick residents who required regular assistance. In 1969 there were approximately 300 Aboriginal people living at Yalata.
In 1974 the reserve was transferred to the control of the Yalata Community Council and the Yalata Mission ceased to operate as a Mission.
Sources used to compile this entry: 'Hitch in Govt. plans for Ooldea natives.', The Mail (Adelaide, South Australia), 5 January 1952, p. 1, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article55748762; 'Church To Take Over Yalata As Mission Station.', The Advertiser (Adelaide, South Australia), 2 March 1954, p. 2, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article47570970; 'Natives To Learn Sheep Raising', The Advertiser (Adelaide, South Australia), 2 July 1954, p. 4, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article48122909; ''A very advanced experiment'.', The Canberra Times (Canberra, ACT), 5 November 1969, p. 2, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article107901876; Hampton, Ken and Christobel Mattingley, Survival in our own land: 'Aboriginal' experiences in 'South Australia' since 1836, Wakefield Press, Adelaide, 1988.
Prepared by: Gary George
Created: 15 May 2014, Last modified: 19 May 2014