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



1174 (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



Gunbalanya graces gallery with wearable art

INJALAK Arts’ exhibition of screen-printed fabrics, clothing and accessories opened at Tactile Arts in Darwin on Friday 18 September, in a vibrant display of wearable art and body adornment. The ‘Wearables’ exhibition features hand- screenprinted fabrics produced on site in Gunbalanya by Injalak’s all-indigenous screen printing team. The artists are also working in collaboration with Fair Trade partners in Cambodia to produce bags, scarves and clutches.

‘Wearables’ runs until Sunday October 4 at Tactile Arts, Conacher Street Darwin, in the grounds of the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT).
Gallery hours are Tuesday to Sunday, 10am to 4pm.

Police mount search at Cooper's Creek

A MOTHER and her three-year-old daughter have been found dehydrated and exhausted after spending three nights stranded in bush near Cooper’s Creek on the Gunbalanya-Maningrida road. Gunbalanya Rangers joined police from Jabiru, Gunbalanya, Maningrida to search the area 40km north-east of Gunbalanya after five occupants left a vehicle that became bogged at the creek crossing late on Friday 21 August.


School holiday pool party in Gunbalanya

KIDS in Gunbalanya enjoyed an afternoon at the pool recently as part of the West Arnhem Regional Council (WARC) School Holiday Program. The Council’s Coordinator of Youth Development in Gunbalanya, Sharna Cropley, said it was a great turnout and heaps of fun. “We had cool drinks, fruit, and music and the Remote School Attendance Program staff brought down their new bright new barbecue on a trailer and cooked up a feed for all the kids,” Sharna said. The event was held on Friday 7 August at the Gunbalanya Sports and Social Club pool.