Queen of the Desert


Queen of the Desert takes you on the road with the flamboyant hairdresser trainer and youth worker Starlady Nungari. Starlady's hair salons began in the Aboriginal community of Kintore in 2002.

Armed with only a bottle of bleach and a pair of clippers, it was a big success. No wonder--hair has always been important in Aboriginal culture.

This first renegade salon sparked an idea - what if Starlady started hairdresser training for young people in remote communities right across the Central Desert?

Starlady spent five years in Melbourne studying hairdressing and make-up then returned to Alice Springs with just a few hundred dollars and a dream. It was a big gamble. The desert is harsh and cultural traditions stand strong; not everyone lasts long out here.

Initially some employers were skeptical about how Starlady might fit in. Having proved them wrong she now drives thousands of kilometers across the desert taking her mobile hair workshops to some of Australia's most isolated teenagers.

This time Starlady's travelling to Areyonga, a remote Pitjantjatjara community, 230 kilometres west of Alice Springs.

Upon arrival Starlady discovers that many of the adults are away on cultural business and so she's left to run the salon with less support than usual, ­wrangling kids and dogs in the summer heat.

It's tough and there are tantrums. Many of the teenagers have their own troubles. There is only one primary school and few job opportunities in the community.

Depression and drug abuse worries elders like Judy Brumby who says suicide is the biggest problem in Central Australia. Starlady knows she will need more than a cut and colour to keep the kids attention.

Can the real Queen of the Desert pull off the community's first ever fashion parade?


Release dates
2013 - Australia
Video/DVD release date
July 2013
Winner (Tied) - Best Short Documentary, Bloody Hero Film Festival, 2013 Winner (Tied) - Audience Award, Transcreen Amsterdam, 2013 Winner - Audience Award, Translations Film Festival, 2013
PG - Parental guidance
360 Degree Films
Dale Cornelius

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Harvard citation

Korff, J 2018, Queen of the Desert, <>, retrieved 2 July 2020

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