The community takes its name from the usually dry Finke River (one of the oldest river systems in the world dating back 350 million years) that meanders by the area traditionally known as Aputula. The name Aputula is still used by the approximately 160 local Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara speakers when referring to their community of Finke.
Finke was originally established as a railway siding on the original Ghan railway line until in 1981 when the railway line was relocated 150km to the west. Today the community is accessed by a 434km road that mostly follows the old Ghan railway route through Titjikala to Alice Springs.
Apart from the general tourism in the area, Finke has become famous as the midway point for the annual Finke Desert Race. The race features bikes, cars and buggies competing over many kilometres of red sandy roads and is reputed to be one of the most difficult races in one of the most remote areas of the world.
The MacDonnell Regional Council provides municipal services to the Finke community that include cemetery maintenance, rubbish collection and tip maintenance, internal roads maintenance, parks and open spaces and sporting grounds.
On behalf of the Northern Territory Government, the Council provides airstrip maintenance as well as Commonwealth Government funded services, including operating children’s services, home care services and night patrol services. Council is also contracted by Power Water Corporation to maintain the power, water and sewerage facilities, Australia Post to provide postal delivery services and by Centrelink to provide its services through an agency in its Council office.
Finke is also serviced by a Health Care centre, school, church, store and the NPY Women’s Council Aboriginal Corporation that, among other things, runs the youth program as well as sport and recreation activities from the recreation hall.