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Adelaide City Optometrist
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Saving Sight – Tjuntjuntjara Aboriginal Community

  • by: Adelaide City Optometrist
  • July 1, 2024

Twice a year, our optometrist Paul Fotkou travels to Tjuntjuntjara Aboriginal Community, to visit the locals and test their vision. Tjuntjuntjara is located 560km north east of Kalgoorlie in the Goldfields-Esperance region of Western Australia. The community was established in 1988 and is managed through its incorporated body, Paupiyala Tjarutja Aboriginal Corporation.

Here is the trip in Paul’s eyes.

The Journey to Tjuntjuntjara

7.00am on 13th of June, we departed Adelaide on a 10-seater Platinum Aircraft Charter with a twin-engine turboprop. I was accompanied by Dr Alex Hope (MD) of Spinifex Aboriginal Health, Emma (Psychologist), Rishi (Paediatrician), Dr Patrick Rau (GP), and of course, the pilot Jo! During the journey, I sat with Dr. Patrick Rau, who i learnt is a recent immigrant to Australia. He previously worked in the highlands of Papua New Guinea prior to COVID. Patrick flies into the Oak Valley Community once a month.


Our first stop was in Ceduna, South Australia to refuel – it was raining quite heavily here!

Then we continued our journey until we arrived in Forrest, Western Australia. The Forrest Airport is CASA operated and takes in 2-3 arrivals per day. Fun fact: It used to be the stopping point for larger aircraft until the 1960’s.


There are 3 communities in the Maralinga lands: Yalata (Green), Oak Valley and Tjuntjuntjara. These communities are scattered from the displacement due to Nuclear testing in the 1950’s. After testing a dozen or so people’s eyes, ocular melanoma was one of the diseases discovered. We are so fortunate through Spinifex Health Services to come to these communities to provide eye check ups, as services are limited in these areas.

Spinifex Art Projects

Another aspect of these lands is the artwork created throughout these communities. Olivia and Riley manage the Spinifex Art Project and Ned Grant has been painting with the Spinifex Art Project since the late 1990’s. Art is a big part of the communities here and having good eye health and vision to be able to paint and draw is so important.