• Mintabie car wrecks. (2017 Review of the Mintabie Lease and Mintabie Township Lease Agreement)Source: 2017 Review of the Mintabie Lease and Mintabie Township Lease Agreement
An outback town has been found to be so rife with crime that the SA government is forcing residents to move out within the next 12 months.
Ryan Liddle

20 Feb 2018 - 2:07 PM  UPDATED 21 Feb 2018 - 9:42 AM

The small town of Mintabie lays some 1000 kilometres North-West of Adelaide and is best known for its opal mining exploits, however it is the exploitation of local Indigenous residents for which it is fast growing a reputation.

The state government sanctioned a report which was carried out late last year and found that there were high levels of lawlessness in the town, which included, but not limited to, residents living in the township without a valid residential permit and the consumption of alcohol and drugs.

"Mintabie is on the APY Lands, what we are doing is returning that township to the APY.”

Mintabie’s population swings between a few dozen in summer to a few hundred in the colder months. The town has long been regarded as an oddity due to the fact that it is largely occupied by white opal miners in an area that is owned and populated predominantly by Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara People.

Just 35 kilometres from the Stuart Highway, which links the cities of Darwin in the North and Adelaide to the South, Mintabie serves as a final stop and gateway for those entering and leaving the vast APY Lands.

The remote location has proven to be a haven for unscrupulous retail practices and has provided a hub for the illegal bootlegging of alcohol and drug running into nearby Aboriginal Communities according to the SA Government's report.

Closing up shop

Last year the town’s local shop, Nobby's Mintabie General Store, was fined and forced to shut its doors, after an investigation found that it had been running an illegal credit line. Details emerged about withholding customers credit cards and that the shop owner had subsequently withdrawn more than one million dollars from their accounts.

South Australian Indigenous Affairs Minister, Kyam Maher, whose department reviewed the report’s findings, said that 'there were significant problems'.

"Last year the Prime Minister wrote to the premier and asked us to look at closing down the township of Mintabie and handing it back to the APY," he said. 

"The practice of book up and taking Anangu's credit cards and taking money from those without their permission was found to be occurring in Mintabie”.


The fifty four page review and subsequent government response highlighted concerns from residents such the aforementioned drug and alcohol running, uncontrolled book up and also the often overpriced and unsafe sale of vehicles to Anangu.

Other crimes such as violence, arson, theft and drug use were also noted as issues of concern, as was the general untidiness of the village, which included derelict buildings, numerous car wrecks, disused mining equipment and general rubbish.

In an interview with SBS, Minister Maher said something needed to be done.

“Many service providers, NPY Women's council told stories about some of the clients that they see and see the effects that some of the drugs or alcohol or book ups that has come through Mintabie that has hurt them."

The number one recommendation from the report was for the town to be closed as soon as practicable with the management of the lease area to be returned to the traditional owner representative body.

"Mintabie is on the APY Lands, what we are doing is returning that township to the APY,” Minster Maher said.

Athlete Jessica Peris tests positive to banned substance, pulls out of Comm Games trials
Daughter of gold winning Olympian and former politician Nova Peris caught out in banned substance test just six weeks before the Commonwealth Games.
South Australian Government to close remote community after damning report
An outback town has been found to be so rife with crime that the SA government is forcing residents to move out within the next 12 months.
Roebourne leaders plan to use culture to take back their town
The Pilbara town of Roebourne became the centre of a media storm last year after 44 people were charged with hundreds of child sex offences. Now the town is trying to take back control.
Jamal Idris on being black, African, Aboriginal and Muslim
Jamal Idris is a young, black, African, Aboriginal, Muslim man who says he has undoubtedly experienced racism because of his identity.
Broome receives record rainfall as Cyclone Kelvin passes by
The tourist town in Western Australia’s top end was threatened with their fourth cyclone over the weekend, just weeks after being left isolated for a number of days due to heavy rain.