Bugai was born at Pukayiyirna, on present day Balfour Downs Station, and her parents soon took her north through Jigalong and Nullagine to Kunawarritji. She grew up, walked and hunted primarily around Punmu, Kunawarritji and Kun Kun, and as a young woman, travelled the Canning Stock Route where she met cattle drovers.
Bugai continued to live nomadically, with her family and later with her husband, before eventually deciding to live at Jigalong Mission, with many other relatives. In recent years, she has lived at Kunawarritji, where she was taught to paint by Nora Nungabar and Nora Wompi. The three women paint together as often as possible.
Bugai has one son, Narran, who lives in Hedland. She has 4 grandchildren who live in Jigalong. Her sister is fellow artist, Nancy Patterson.