Gunbalanya

Also known as Oenpelli, Gunbalanya is a large remote town situated about 60km north east of Jabiru, across the East Alligator River in Arnhem Land. Gunbalanya has a population of around 1,200 and the main language spoken is Kunwinjku.

Gunbalanya was first settled by pioneer Paddy Cahill, who established a farm in the early 1900s. A mission was later established in the 1920s.

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 main road link out of Gunbalanya to the Arnhem Highway is often closed during the wet season, when the East Alligator River becomes impassable. The town is, however, serviced by a tarmac airstrip.

West Arnhem Regional Council provides a range of core local services in Gunbalanya, including sport, recreation and youth programs, employment programs, community safety, and community services. The town also has an arts centre, supermarket, service station and licensed community sports club. West Arnhem College provides schooling from preschool to Year 12.

Community overview

Population:
1,174 (2011 Census)

Location:
300km east of Darwin and 60km north east of Jabiru across the East Alligator River in Arnhem Land.

Languages spoken:
Kunwinjku, English.

Services:
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.

Recreation:
25-metre swimming pool, fishing, boating, hiking, arts and craft, sports ovals, youth centre and basketball facilities.

Access:
Year-round via air charter from Jabiru Airport.
Dry season (May-Sept): Road access.
Wet season (Oct-Apr): The river crossing at Cahill’s Crossing, East Alligator River, is usually impassable.

More information:
Chrissie Nichols, Gunbalanya Council Services Manager, 08 8970 3700.