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, water and housing maintenance 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 Board.

Stone country use.JPG

Community overview



171 (2011 Census) 

300km east of Darwin and 60km north-east of Jabiru across the East Alligator River in Arnhem Land.

Languages spoken:
Kunwinjku, English.

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

Stone Country Festival 

Every August the community of Gunbalanya opens its doors to the wider Territory community for the Stone Country Festival. This is the only day everyone is welcome in the town without a permit from the Northern Land Council. The Festival celebrates the spectacular natural setting of the town, nestled between the impressive Arnhem Land escarpments and sweeping floodplains, as well as celebrating the local Aboriginal culture. There’s plenty of local food, sports, arts and craft and cultural activities on offer. The festival is one of the highlights of the Territory community festival calendar.

Local Authorities: Your local voice

LOCAL people in West Arnhem will soon have a more direct voice in local government with the establishment of Local Authorities. The West Arnhem Regional Council (WARC) is now calling for leaders and community-minded people to nominate for Local Authority Members in  Gunbalanya, Minjilang, Warruwi and Maningrida. 

Gunbalanya graduates shine in NT study awards

TWO graduates from West Arnhem College Gunbalanya School will be honoured in a special ceremony at Parliament House in Darwin this Friday, after taking out top training awards in the Northern Territory.  

Kirsty Garrnadj and Arijay Camp will travel to the Northern Territory Board of Studies Awards evening in Parliament House on Friday 14 February, with assistance from the West Arnhem Regional Council, who will fly the students from Gunbalanya to Jabiru.

Arijay Camp won the NT School Based Apprentice of the Year Award. 

Kirsty Garnarrdj won the inaugural Karmi Sceney Indigenous Excellence and Leadership Award. 

Gunbalanya gets on with truancy task

West Arnhem Regional Council (WARC) Mayor Lothar Siebert says the Council will give the Government all the assistance it needs to help make its new school attendance program a success.

Truancy officers began work in the West Arnhem community last week, tasked with improving student attendance rates at the West Arnhem College Gunbalanya Campus under the Federal Government’s Remote School Attendance Strategy. 

Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion said the Gunbalanya trial would inform the rollout of the $28 million program in 40 remote communities across Australia.

Mayor Siebert expressed concerns about the strategy in a frank meeting with Mr Scullion at the WARC Gunbalanya office on Tuesday, January 7.