Fitzroy Crossing is situated on the Great Northern Highway, on the banks of the Fitzroy River. It is approximately 2524 km from Perth and 400 km from Broome. The town is 114 metres above sea level and is surrounded by the vast floodplains of the Fitzroy River. The current population of the Fitzroy Crossing area is approximately 1200 people, most of whom are Aboriginal. Within the Fitzroy Valley there are four main Aboriginal language groups, Gooniyandi, Bunuba, Walmajarri and Wangkajungka.
In the early 1980's The Aboriginal Arts Board of the Australia Council sent some money to Fitzroy Crossing to build an art centre. The building was a modest concrete and tin structure with no windows. It took on the name Mangkaja, a Walmajarri word for the wet weather shelters which the artists built in the desert during the wet season.
Mangkaja started its life as an arm of Karrayili Adult Education Centre but has since grown into a fully fledged independent body. Mangkaja Arts is governed by a committee which meets regularly and the members are responsible for decisions affecting the development of the centre. The process of decision making is one which is taken seriously.
The main role of Mangkaja Arts Resource Agency Aboriginal Association is to relieve poverty, helplessness, distress, suffering and cultural loss.