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



Order of Australia medal for Gunbalanya elder

AN elder living in Gunbalanya in West Arnhem been awarded an Order of Australia medal for his work in the area during the Mission era. Timothy Nadjowh liaised with church missionary societies and was a point of contact for Aboriginal people between the 1950s and 1980s. 

For the chimes they are a changin'

Students came flooding back to Gunbalanya School this term earlier than other schools as part of an initiative to help boost attendance rates. With East Alligator River on the rise, the students are effectively “locked in” at Gunbalanya, and school Co-Principal Sue Trimble says this means a positive start.

Full marks for team commitment

Jabiru Bombers full-forward Scott Maralngurra from Gunbalanya has earned himself a strong cult following in the AFL NT. With his straightforward style of solid marking and accurate kicking, he has helped the Bombers out more than once in the closing minutes of a match. But his team commitment extends beyond the sporting field.