Abstract: The particular abstractions represented by the terms population and house-hold are central categories in modern demographic analysis. They form the organizing principles of national censuses in Western liberal democracies such as Australia, and profoundly influence both the collection methodology and the content of the collection instrument. This paper argues that these categories are founded on a particular metaphor, the ‘bounded container’, that broadly reflects the population and household structures of sedentary societies such as mainstream Australia. Bounded discrete categories are conducive to the collection of reliable census data in such societies, since unbounded behaviours can be controlled for by statistical means. However, remote Abprogoma; populations behave in radically unbounded ways. This paper proposes that the dominant metaphor underlying Yolngu (and much remote Aboriginal) sociality is, instead, the nodal network. It then explores the consequences of attempting to capture nodal network societies in terms of models based on the bounded container.