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
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.
INJALAK Arts and Crafts’ 25th birthday was literally the icing on the cake for Indigenous culture and traditional arts in West Arnhem this year. A large and enthusiastic crowd turned out for the celebrations in Gunbalanya on Saturday 1 November, enjoying bush tucker cookups, traditional dancing and music, and having a go at everything from damper making and screenprinting to spear-throwing. Many happy returns to the Injalak mob!