Arnhem Land & Gove Peninsula, Northern Territory
Arnhem Land is over 94,000 spectacular sq km of Aboriginal land bounded to the north and east by soft, white beaches and clear tropical waters. It takes in Elcho Island, the Gove Peninsula and the western shore of the Gulf of Carpentaria from Nhulunbuy to the Roper River, including Groote Eylandt. Many tourists miss out on this vast attraction because they think it's a little too much trouble to get to or they don't have time. What a bonus for you!.
The area has been home to many different Aboriginal clan groups for thousands of years and even today, as many as 40 different languages are spoken. The distinctive x-ray style rock art and bark paintings of wallabies, fish and fearsome spirit beings seen only in Arnhem Land, reflect the intimate relationship the traditional owners have with the land and its bounty. In Oenpelli, just outside Kakdu National Park and Nhulunbuy on the Gove Peninsula, you will see how Aboriginal artisans are still applying their traditional skills to painting, weaving and making didjeridus.
The Gove Peninsula's main town is Nhulunbuy, tucked in the north east corner of Arnhem Land. It's a peaceful, leafy spot skirted by soft white beaches, around 650km from Darwin. The town was established as a service centre for Nabalco's bauxite mining and treament plant and has now grown to a sizeable community of 4,000 people. If you don't have the day or two it takes to cover the unsealed road to Nhulunbuy from the Stuart Highway north of Katherine, simply take a 45 minute flight from Darwin.
In the vicinity of the town of Nhulunbuy, there are a number of recreational areas available for visitors to access and bush camp on the spectacular coastline. However, permits are required for this. The area is also a stronghold of traditional Aboriginal art and craft and there are two excellent centres close by. Anglers love it here and keep coming back and there's great diving too. You'll find no shortage of tour operators and equipment hire operations out of Nhulunbuy, eager to show off the marvels of the deep.
Watch for the Oenpelli Open Day in August where the local Aborigianl community will welcome you with music, dance, art, chopper flights and fireworks. On the Gove Peninsula, events revolve around the sea. Long distance yacht races are held throughout the year and in late November, the Traveland Gove Game Classic begins for the diehard game-fishing lovers.