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
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.
THE West Arnhem Regional Council (WARC) is assisting people to stay in their own homes and on their communities by providing care, meals, advocacy and support services to people living with a disability or are frail and aged. In Gunbalanya, WARC Community Care Team Leader Cherie Nichols says the staff also take elders out onto country.
“We have weekly outings for our clients to engage in cultural activities including fishing, collecting pandanus, and hunting for turtles,” Cherie says. “We usually try to take other family members along to help with everything, and it’s also a good opportunity for them to gain cross-generational education with the elders. The old ladies absolutely love it, getting out on their country and collecting pandanus to weave baskets.”
The Njanjma Rangers held their Healthy Country Planning workshop in Gunbalanya and surrounds recently. Significant outcomes were achieved throughout the five days of planning, none more so than the further building of a strong partnership with the Gunbalanya School. Njanjma Rangers Program Manager Trent Wilkinson said the future was looking bright. "We are building a whole of landscape management pathway that will produce economic, employment and social benefits to Bininj of the region for another 65 years."