East Arnhem Region

About East Arnhem

Nhulunbuy is the name of the town and Gove is the name of the peninsula where the town is located. The two names are used interchangeably. The township of Nhulunbuy is the hub for the region, with most regional services using the township as a base.

A permit is not needed to visit the town Nhulunbuy, but if you want to walk on its beautiful beaches, you do require a permit from Dhimirru. (See permits section)

Yirrkala and Gunyangara are very different to the ‘big smoke’ of Nhulunbuy.  Mostly Yolngu live in these two communities.  A NLC permit is required to visit, even if visiting the health centres. The exception is Yirrkala’s Art Centre. There are very few ‘services’ based in these two communities.

Yirrkala has a history of residents for 40, 000 years with the Methodists arriving somewhat later in 1935 to establish a mission.   At the time of the mission being established, thirteen clans came together.  All clans have at least one homeland centre, and many people live partly in Yirrkala and partly in their homelands.

Gunyangara was established in the late 1970s by Galarrwuy Yunupingu and his family. The people living in Gunyangara today are made up of twelve different clan groups from within the Miwatj region.


Nhulunbuy 3240

Yirrkala 809

Gunyangara 240


12’10’57S   136’46’55E


Far East section of Arnhem Land, 1,044km from Darwin

Indigenous Languages spoken:

The Aboriginal Interpreter Service uses local staff or arranges phone link-ups if no local interpreters are available.  There is a cost for this service.

Yirrkala: Yolngu Matha (Gumatj, Dhuwaya, Galpu, Rirratjingu, Djapu, Djambarrpuyngu)

Nhulunbuy: Yolngu Matha (Galpu, Gumatj)

Gunyangara: Yolngu Matha (Gumatj, Galpu)

There are about 40 dialects of Yolŋu languages spoken in northeast Arnhem Land. Source


Winter/dry season (May-Nov)    Cool & dry average temp 15-33°C

Summer/Wet season (Dec-Apr) Hot & humid average temp 22-40°C

For an accurate description of this region’s weather, see the Yolngu understanding of the weather pattern in East Arnhem Yolnu Weather



Nhulunbuy does not have a ‘council’ but it has Nhulunbuy Corporation. The Corporation is a public company limited by guarantee to manage Nhulunbuy, the nearby Industrial Estate and the Gove Airport in a similar manner to that of a local council. The Corporation employs a team of administrative, works and airport staff and is led by the Chief Executive Officer.

This link has information on the East Arnhem Regional Council that covers Yirrkala, Gunyangara link: Council Website

Federal electorate – Lingiari


Permit Information

Aboriginal land is privately owned. It is not Crown land, nor public land. Permission must be obtained in accordance with the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 before going onto Aboriginal Land. This includes access to tidal waters over Aboriginal land.

Northern Land Council: Milingimbi, Ramingining, Galiwin’ku, Gapuwiyak, Yirrkala, Gunyangara, Nhulunbuy, Numbulwar, Alyangula, Gapuwiyak

Allow > 10 days

Dhimurru: Recreation areas around Nhulunbuy (Gove) (all beaches  and the look out)

Online, issues immediately. Some cost.


Aboriginal Health Controlled Organisations

Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation

Marthakal Homelands Health Service

Laynhapuy Aboriginal Community Controlled Health


NT Government Services

Gove District Hospital

Northern Territory Government: Primary Health Care

Top End Mental Health Service

Centre for Disease Control

Staying overnight and Local Attractions

Accommodation options on the peninsular

Gove Peninsular: Small kitchenette, used by the PHN MOICD outreach team. Phone: 89870700

Walkabout: Most common location to stay, restaurant and meeting room facilities.

East Arnhem Real estate: (holiday rental) Whole house

Dhimurru: part of the local land council’s facilities

East Arnhem Regional Council:  Yirrkala, Gunyangara

Other accommodation ideas provided by Tourism NT


Meeting Rooms

There are a variety of meeting rooms for different audiences in Nhulunbuy.

Things to do & see


NTGPE acknowledge and thank NT Primary Health Network (NTPHN) ntphn.org.au for providing the content for this community profile.