Beyond Nhulunbuy, the Yolŋu region of East Arnhem consists of six main communities: Milingimbi in the Crocodile Islands, Galiwin’ku on Elcho Island, Ramingining on the edge of the Arafura Swamp, Gapuwiyak on the shores of Lake Evella, and Yirrkala and Gunyaŋara on the Gove Peninsula. These communities have schools, shops, clinics, airports, and other facilities and services; they also provide services to surrounding homelands. Essential services to these main communities are provided by the Northern Territory Government’s Power and Water Corporation. Digital connectivity is achieved via existing copper line ADSL or the NBN Skymuster satellite service with average speeds between 7Mbps and 25Mbps. Major communities in East Arnhem also benefit from 4G mobile network.
These main regional communities receive regular and scheduled barge services accepting dry goods, dangerous goods, chilled and frozen freight. General cargo services reach each community two to three times weekly. Other barge service options include project and charter services, mothershipping, defence, larger scale fuels and oils barge services.
Airnorth, Fly Tiwi and MAF provide regular scheduled flights to our major communities, operating both from Darwin and Gove airports. There are multiple charter flight companies also operating within the East Arnhem region that can fly on demand and direct to most of the major communities and homelands.
Visitation to communities and homelands requires a permit, which can be obtained through Northern Land Council’s website. Visitors are required to apply to the Northern Land Council for a permit if they wish to undertake any of the following activities on Aboriginal land:
- Enter Aboriginal land or waters for any purpose
- Travel by road through Aboriginal land
- Enter or visit an Aboriginal Community.
The Northern Land Council Permit Administration System is designed to help protect the privacy of Aboriginal communities, preserve Aboriginal culture, safeguard the natural environment and promote visitor safety. For more information please visit nlc.org.au/apply-for-permit. Guidance on obtaining permits can also be offered through the DEAL office.
Gapuwiyak, with a population of 923, is located adjacent to the shores of the picturesque Lake Evella and the upper reaches of the Buckingham River. Road access to Gapuwiyak is via a turn-off from the Central Arnhem Road about 220 kilometres or three hours from Nhulunbuy. MAF provide regular scheduled flights from Gove Airport to Lake Evella with an approximate flight time of 40 minutes.
The community hosts a sealed airstrip, police station, commercial accommodation, primary health care service, aged and disability services, child care, primary and secondary level schools and local government service centre. General cargo barge services run as a scheduled, twice weekly service. The community store serves hot food and offers a variety of stock.
The community owned and operated Gapuwiyak Culture and Arts Centre sells locally produced works, as well as housing its own collection and supporting over 100 artists from Gapuwiyak and surrounding homelands. Gapuwiyak Culture and Arts Centre also has self-contained accommodation located centrally in town near the Gapuwiyak Airport.
The Gurrambalk Accommodation and Business Village is also located in Gapuwiyak. As a locally owned Yolŋu business and social enterprise, it offers a secure and collaborative work and living space with short and long term accommodation.
For capital works, maintenance projects or longer term stays, East Arnhem Regional Council offers contractor accommodation inclusive of secure storage and parking for equipment, vehicles and machinery.
For more information on visiting Gapuwiyak, please visit eastarnhemland.com.au/places-to-go/gapuwiyak
Yirrkala is 18 kilometres southeast of Nhulunbuy and accessible via Melville Bay Road and Gunyipinya Road with a travel time of approximately 15 minutes.
The community has a population of approximately 800 people, and hosts a community store, commercial accommodation, primary health care services, aged and disability services, child care, primary and secondary level schools and a local government service centre. Yirrkala’s proximity to Nhulunbuy reduces its need for additional services, which residents and businesses can access nearby.
Yirrkala is also home to one of the most prominent Aboriginal art centres in Australia, the Yolŋu community-controlled Buku-Larrŋgay Mulka Centre. It consists of two divisions: the Yirrkala Art Centre which represents Yolŋu artists exhibiting and selling contemporary art, and The Mulka Project which acts as a digital production studio and archiving centre incorporating a museum. The centre also boasts guest accommodation in self-contained units, as well as meeting spaces.
For more information on visiting Yirrkala, please visit eastarnhemland.com.au/places-to-go/yirrkala
Milingimbi Island, with a population of 1,225, forms part of the Crocodile Island group off the north coast of Central Arnhem Land in the Arafura Sea, west of Nhulunbuy.
The community, situated on the largest island of the Crocodile Islands group, hosts commercial accommodation, a primary health care service, aged and disability services, child care, primary and secondary level schools, community library and local government service centre. General cargo barge services run as a scheduled, three times a week service.
Access to Milingimbi is via Airnorth from Darwin and MAF from Gove Airport via regular scheduled flights.
The Milingimbi Art and Culture Centre is a community owned art centre. Many of Milingimbi’s artists both past and present are represented in collections internationally.
Milingimbi is also home to the high end and internationally acclaimed Yolŋu-owned Manapan Furniture. All the product and furniture crafted out of the Manapan workshop uses Australian timber handmade by the craftsmen of the Milingimbi community.
Visitors to Milingimbi can enjoy comfortable accommodation offered by Yolŋu-owned Rulku Lodge.
For more information on visiting Milingimbi, please visit eastarnhemland.com.au/places-to-go/milingimbi
Galiwin’ku is the largest Yolŋu community in East Arnhem with a population of 2,206. It is located on the southern end of Elcho Island, west of Nhulunbuy. Elcho Island is at the south end of the Wessel Island group and is bounded on the western side by the Arafura Sea and the east by Cadell Strait.
Access to Galiwin’ku is via air, including with Airnorth direct from Darwin or via regular scheduled services with MAF direct from Gove Airport.
The community hosts a police station, commercial accommodation, primary health care service, aged and disability services, child care, primary and secondary level school and local government service centre. General cargo barge services run as a scheduled, three times a week service. There are four community stores and a café, which provide strong employment and convenience in this large community.
Elcho Island Arts is a Yolŋu-owned art centre located in Galiwin’ku. Their artworks, weavings, fibre art, carvings and ceremonial poles are widely exhibited and feature in national collections within Australia and in major collections worldwide.
Visitors to Galiwin’ku can stay in serviced accommodation at the Marthakal Motel, offering complimentary continental breakfast as part of the accommodation package. Visitors can also stay in the East Arnhem Regional Council Accommodation, offering secure rooms with a communal kitchen, dining, laundry, and workspaces.
For more information on visiting Galiwin’ku, please visit eastarnhemland.com.au/places-to-go/galiwinku
Ramingining has a population of approximately 872 and is located on the edge of the heritage listed Arafura Swamp, positioned inland and 435 kilometres west of Nhulunbuy. The Arafura Swamp is a vast, pristine 1,000 kilometre² wetland surrounded by a catchment extending from Castlereagh Bay to the upper reaches of the Goyder and Glyde Rivers. The surrounding areas boast some of the Northern Territory’s richest and most extensive rainforests, and support an abundance of threatened, rare and lesser known wildlife.
Drive time from Nhulunbuy is approximately eight hours via the Central Arnhem Road and Ramingining access road. MAF provide regular scheduled flights from Gove Airport to Ramingining, with an approximate flight time of three hours and 15 minutes. Departing from Darwin, Fly Tiwi also offers several flights per week with an approximate flight time of one hour and 45 minutes.
The community hosts a police station, commercial accommodation, primary health care service, aged and disability services, child care, primary and secondary level schools, community library and local government service centre. General cargo barge services run as a scheduled, three times a week service. The community store offers a wide range of food and products.
Ramingining is home to Bula’bula Arts Aboriginal Corporation, a Yolŋu owned, not-for-profit organisation with its core objective being to preserve and foster Yolŋu culture. Bula’bula Arts represents some 150 artists from Ramingining and surrounding homelands.
When staying in this vibrant community, the accommodation options include Mona Lodge and Dinybulu Lodge. The Dhipirri Barra and Sportfishing Lodge, off the coast of Ramingining, also offers accommodation and dining services, as well as high quality fishing experiences.
For capital works, maintenance projects or longer-term stays, East Arnhem Regional Council offers contractor accommodation inclusive of secure storage and parking for equipment, vehicles and machinery.
For more information on visiting Ramingining, please visit eastarnhemland.com.au/places-to-go/ramingining
Gunyaŋara is located on Gunyaŋara Island in Melville Bay, with a population of approximately 240. The small island community, also known as Ski Beach, is joined to the mainland by a causeway at Drimmie Peninsula, west of Nhulunbuy and sits adjacent to Gove Port. By road, the community is 13 kilometres west of Nhulunbuy town centre and boasts a sporting oval, primary health care services, early primary schooling, and a youth centre.
The Gunyaŋara community and surrounds is managed under a 99-year township lease held by the Ŋarrariyal Aboriginal Corporation. This presents a unique opportunity to work directly with Gumatj traditional owners on economic and community development opportunities on their land through the Gunyaŋara Township Lease.
The community has a Yolŋu managed community shop, Gopu Community Store, which stocks a range of locally produced artwork and jewellery items as well as groceries and take away coffee. Gunyaŋara is home to the well-established Gumatj sawmill, a woodwork facility that utilises timber sourced from a local Aboriginal led forestry operation. The sawmill produces highly sought-after timber roof trusses, furniture and various other timber products.
For more information on visiting Gunyaŋara, please visit eastarnhemland.com.au/places-to-go/gunyangara