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



Black Arm Band back in West Arnhem

Black Arm Band return to the West Arnhem communities of Gunbalanya and Maningrida this month as part of its NT Remote Community Tour. The band delivered music workshops in Gunbalanya and Maningrida in late 2013, and although the concerts in Gunbalanya and Maningrida were delayed, Black Arm Band is delighted to now be presenting the large-scale and highly acclaimed production ‘dirtsong’ in the ‘Country’ that inspired its very creation. This journey for the work is what the original creators had always envisaged.

Gunbalanya all go for Youth Week

THE Gunbalanya crew were back in Darwin on Wednesday 15 April, participating in a couch surfing race for Youth Week. The Gunbalanya boys, who won the race last year, didn’t take out the chequered flag this time around – but they did raise awareness around youth homelessness, and had a lot of fun along the way.

Big thanks to our Night Patrol team

THE Gunbalanya Night Patrol is a close-knit team of locals who have the safety of their community at heart. While their good work all too often goes unrecognised, this was not the case on Friday 20 March, when the team members were presented with certificates of appreciation for the great work they do in Gunbalanya.