Also known as Oenpelli, Gunbalanya is a large Aboriginal town situated about 60kms 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) often closes during the wetter months as the East Alligator River becomes impassable. The town is, however, serviced by a tarmac airstrip.
West Arnhem Shire 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-year 12, and the town also has an arts centre, supermarket, service station and licensed community sports club.
Click here for information of the Gunbalanya Local Board.
1171 (2011 Census)
300kms east of Darwin, 50km north east of Jabiru across the East Alligator River in Arnhem Land
Gunbalanya is a major Aboriginal town in Arnhem Land, and has 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.
25m swimming pool, fishing, boating, hiking, arts and craft, sports ovals and basketball facilities
Dry season (April to November) road access (the rivercrossing at Cahill’s Crossing, East Alligator River, is usually impassable from November to April); all-year access via air (charters only).
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, and the festival is one of the highlights of the Territory community festival calendar.
A mammoth seven-goal final quarter transformed Middle Camp Lions’22-point deficit at three-quarter time into a premiership in the Gunbalanya AFL grand final last Saturday.
The Injalak Dockers led the Lions at every break, and after three quick goals by the Lions early in the final quarter, the teams traded goals in a tense finish to the season.
The Lions pulled ahead by seven points with five minutes left.
The Dockers had a chance to take the lead in the final minute trailing by five points, however missed a set shot on goal from a difficult angle to reduce the winning margin to four.