Gunbalanya

 

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.

Stone country use.JPG

Community overview

 

 

Population:
1174 (2011 Census) 

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

Languages spoken:
Kunwinjku, English.

Services:
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.

Recreation:
50-metre swimming pool, fishing, boating, hiking, arts and craft, sports ovals, youth centre and basketball facilities.

Access:
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.

Media
Craft to dye for

A GROUP of women in Gunbalanya is busy getting a fledgling business off the ground, making candles, tie-dyed shirts, soap, patchwork and jewellery. The women, who have named their group ‘Strong Women Working Together’, got together in June this year to work on creating and selling their quality products to locals at market days and from the church hall.

Peak hour in West Arnhem

The tail end of another traffic jam, this time at Cahill’s Crossing on the Gunbalanya road. PHOTO: GORDON SMITH