Ngalapita Remote Community School first opened its doors to students on December 1, 2003. The name for the school comes from a nearby billabong which is central to the lives of the Aboriginal people who, apart from the teachers, make up this community.
The community occupies one square kilometre of Kalyeeda Station and is situated south of Noonkanbah Station and south of the Fitzroy River. It consists of eleven houses, a power station and a reverse osmosis water treatment plant. A 900m airstrip is available for most of the year.
There are no support services available in the community so members travel to Fitzroy Crossing (190km to the north-east), Derby (260km to the north-west) or Broome (400km to the west) to access essentials such as medical, policing, commercial and retail services. The Royal Flying Doctor visits the community once a month to check on everyone's health. Community members also utilise the clinics at Noonkanbah (25km to the north) and Yakanarra (60km to the east), which operate at select times during the week. Both Noonkanbah and Yakanarra have a small store, but items are costly due to remote transport costs.
Ngalapita does not have a mail delivery system in place. The school and community lease separate post boxes at the Fitzroy Crossing Post Office. Mail is collected by staff and brought to the school for distribution once or twice a month.
Access into Ngalapita is via unsealed roads, which vary from fair to very poor condition. Vehicle wear and tear and travel times directly correlate to this. A four-wheel-drive with all-terrain tyres is the advised form of transport. Community members fuel up at Noonkanbah and Yakanarra, where petrol cards are available for purchase and use at their community bowsers. The closest service stations are Shell and BP in Fitzroy Crossing (traveling east) and Willare Roadhouse (230km from Ngalapita, traveling west).
The school grounds, teachers' houses and basketball court are situated 100m to the east of the community. Also part of this cluster is a donga, used to accommodate visiting service providers. The school consists of two large classrooms - the Primary Class which caters for Kindergarten to Year 5, and the Senior Class which caters for Year 7 and beyond. There is also a principal's office, administration area, kitchen, sports shed, gardening shed and library. Buildings are air-conditioned.
The school is well-resourced, particularly with technology. Students have one to one access to iPads and laptops. The school is networked and has satellite internet access in all rooms. Both classrooms are fitted with interactive whiteboards and sound field systems.
The student cohort at Ngalapita is between 7 and 15, though itinerant students add to the population seasonally. Students reside in Ngalapita or travel by troupe carrier from Bidijul Community (40km east). The school currently employs 2 full-time qualified teachers, a principal, off-site registrar and an Aboriginal and Islander Education Officer.
Walmajarri is the traditional language of this community, although most of the children speak Kriol as their first language. Standard Australian English is taught and practised at school.
The school follows the Australian Curriculum, with a major emphasis on literacy and numeracy. Staff recognise the students as English as a Second Language (ESL) learners and employ teaching strategies that meet their needs. All students have an Individualised Learning Plan (ILP) and Special Education Needs (SEN) reporting is used to communicate student achievements to parents.
The climate in this region of the Kimberley is monsoonal and semi-arid. Being inland, Ngalapita experiences higher day temperatures and lower night temperatures than coastal communities, with little to no cyclone affect. While Perth is experiencing winter, Ngalapita enjoys months of sunny blue skies. The coldest nights of the year are in July and August, where temperatures dip below 10°C.
The build-up to the wet season starts in September with the days getting hotter and humidity increasing. Thunderstorms occur in the late afternoons but there is generally no rain. Temperatures are in the high 30s and remain above 20°C at night. During November and December, temperatures soar into the mid-forties. The wettest months are January and February.
Although classified as a Region 2 school under Western Australian Remote Teaching Service locality allowances, Ngalapita is one of the most isolated Kimberley schools. During the wet season (November through to April) the community can be cut off for an extensive period of time. In these circumstances a food drop delivered by helicopter or plane may be necessary.
Australian Rules Football is a significant social activity within the Fitzroy Valley, of which Ngalapita is a part. The community does not have its own team, but members play for one of six clubs in the Central Kimberley Football League, traveling to Fitzroy Crossing each weekend for fixtures during the footy season (May to August). Other recreational pursuits enjoyed by members of the community include fishing at the billabong and hunting in the local bushland. Wildlife in the area include crocodiles, snakes, goannas, bush turkeys, emus and kangaroos.
Ngalapita is a dry community. By-laws stipulate that no drugs or alcohol are to be brought into the community.