Formal schooling began at the Warlpiri-speaking community of Willowra, in north-western Central Australia, in 1968. When the present authors arrived at the school in 1976, to take up positions as the new teachers, many adults spoke An- matyerr in addition to Warlpiri, and also “station English”, which they had learnt while working in the pastoral industry. Few younger children spoke English, but were expected to learn to read and write it at the school, which was still something of a foreign country for them and their families. The educational material provided was largely irrelevant to them, and little printed matter existed outside of the school, with only a few Warlpiri adults able to read it. People’s understandings of the meaning of school derived from visible, pedagogic practices characteristic of mainstream schools; for example, children were required to wear uniforms, sit at desks and learn to write using pencils. Yet, despite the alien nature of school, the community came to embrace it, transforming its relevance and role in their lives through the introduction of a Warlpiri-English bilingual program. In this chapter we review “bilingual time” (as it is remembered at Willowra) in the years we spent there in 1976-1977, when the bilingual program was introduced. We set our narrative in the context of policy conflicts that eventually led to the dismantling of the program in the early 2000s, and consider the advantages of the short-lived pol- icy environment in which we operated, which was school-based and community- oriented.