Also known as Oenpelli, Gunbalanya is a large Aboriginal town situated about 60km north east of Jabiru, across the East Alligator River in Arnhem Land.
The area around Gunbalanya is known as Stone Country, a name inspired by the spectacular Arnhem Land escarpment and rock formations that emerge from the floodplains surrounding the town.
The township of Gunbalanya was first settled by the pioneering Paddy Cahill, who established a farm in the region in the early 1900s. A mission was later established in the 1920s. These days Gunbalanya has a population of approximately 1200, and the main language spoken is Kunwinjku.
The main road link out of Gunbalanya to Jabiru (and on to Darwin) is often closed during the wetter months as the East Alligator River becomes impassable. The town is, however, serviced by a tarmac airstrip.
West Arnhem Regional Council provides a range of essential services in Gunbalanya, including the provision of power, services on behalf of government agencies; sport, recreation and youth programs; employment programs; community safety and community services.
West Arnhem College also operates in Gunbalanya, providing schooling from preschool to Year 12. The town also has a youth centre, arts centre, supermarket, service station and licensed community sports club.
Click here for information of the Gunbalanya Local Authority.
1174 (2011 Census)
300km east of Darwin and 60km north-east of Jabiru across the East Alligator River in Arnhem Land.
Gunbalanya is a major Aboriginal town in Arnhem Land, with a school (pre-school to Year 12), health clinic, service station and convenience store, supermarket, police station, crèche facilities, sports and social club, butcher and community arts centre.
50-metre swimming pool, fishing, boating, hiking, arts and craft, sports ovals, youth centre and basketball facilities.
Year-round via air charter from Jabiru Airport.
Dry season (Apr-Nov): Road access.
Wet season (Dec-Mar):
The river crossing at Cahill’s Crossing, East Alligator River, is usually impassable.
News from Gunbalanya
It’s Gurrung season in Kakadu. The days are warm, the nights are cool, the magpie geese are on the move and the late afternoon breeze brings with it music, arts and the smell of bushfoods cooking on the coals … Gurrung season means festival season. In Jabiru, the time is fast approaching for the Mahbilil Festival, a vibrant one-day community event that brings together music, arts and culture from the Mirarr people and across the Top End. In conjunction with Mahbilil is the Gurrung Sports Carnival, which draws footy and basketball teams from far and wide, and boasts some of the greatest up-and-coming raw talent in the Top End. Out at South Goulburn Island, the Warruwi community is gearing up for the Jamalak Festival, held the week after Mahbilil.
Blokes all across Australia just love making stuff in sheds, and in communities across West Arnhem it’s no different. So when an opportunity came up at the Men’s Shed in Gunbalanya for hands-on training in metalwork, pipe bending and welding, more than 20 participants jumped at it.
The resources and infrastructure work preparation training course came about through collaboration between STEPS Education and Training, Batchelor Institute, and the Gunbalanya Economic Development Aboriginal Corporation (GEDAC).
As well as local men learning valuable new job skills, the Gunbalanya community got a brand-new, custom-built welcome sign.
LOCAL artists at Gunbalanya in West Arnhem are welcoming tourists to their new interpretative centre at Injalak Arts.
The arts centre, which currently attracts more than 8000 visitors a year, has refurbished an old screen print workshop to create a new, multifaceted space that includes audio-visual screens, interpretative boards, signage, pathways, external shade areas and areas for lectures and workshops.
Located on the doorstep of Kakadu National Park, Injalak Arts is an ideal stop over for tourists looking for an authentic art and cultural experience, and it has strong appeal to international tourists and family groups.