Travel to and within the Yolngu Region of East Arnhem

Recent changes to travel across the Northern Territory are aimed at preventing COVID-19 from entering remote communities. This email sets out the latest information and processes regarding travel within and to East Arnhem.

While this information is current at the time of sending, the most up to date information and advice about the Northern Territory’s response to COVID-19 is available at

Further public information will be distributed later this week. If you would like to be added to the distribution list for future emails, please send a request to


East Arnhem is designated biosecurity area. As promised in our email update last week (attached), a map of the area is attached, with a red line showing the boundary of the East Arnhem designated biosecurity area.

Within the East Arnhem region there are two different Land Councils and the arrangements for access differ.

1)    Anindilyakwa Land Council or Groote and Bickerton Island area (including Alyangula):

The Anindilyakwa Land Council (ALC) has confirmed a two-week cessation of travel to and from the Groote Archipelago between close of business 31 March 2020 and 6am 14 April 2020. Rare exceptions may be made in the case of emergencies, such as Careflight or Police Airwing.

From 14 April 2020, anyone coming to the Groote Archipelago must apply for a permit from the ALC. Contact the ALC for more information on or 0436 930 960.

There are specific travel requirements to and within the Groote region and these must be followed.

2)    Northern Land Council region of East Arnhem including Nhulunbuy and the Industrial Estate (defined as the East Arnhem region map less Groote Eylandt)

Travel for remote community residents (Yolngu) is allowed between communities, homelands/ outstations and any unincorporated townships (Nhulunbuy and Alyangula only) within the East Arnhem biosecurity area. Community residents are strongly advised, however, not to travel if they do not have to (i.e. except in an emergency or for medical treatment).

People who reside in a remote community because they are an approved remote essential worker must only travel to and between the remote communities and/ or homelands for which they are approved and have a permit from the Northern Land Council.

People who live in the town of Nhulunbuy must not travel to remote communities and homelands within their designated biosecurity area unless they are an approved remote essential worker.

Contact Dhimurru and Laynhapuy for information about the status of the recreation areas. The Dholuwuy Campground at Baniyala is closed until further notice.


People cannot enter the East Arnhem designated biosecurity area except in the following circumstances:

  • they have quarantined for 14 days (within the NT) before entering the designated biosecurity area (regardless of whether they travel by air or road or sea), or
  • they can demonstrate they are an approved remote essential worker and meet certain health and safety requirements.

These requirements apply to everyone, including those who live within the region. If you leave the East Arnhem designated biosecurity area, you will be required to quarantine for 14 days before you are allowed to re-enter, particularly if it is for a non-emergency or essential purpose. There are a range of additional information and fact sheets on the remote essential worker link above.

Details of the designated biosecurity area and what it means locally are in the attached message. It is important to note that any Balanda people who are entering or already within the East Arnhem area must have a valid permit from the Northern Land Council with them at all times if they travel outside Nhulunbuy.

How do I self-quarantine?

Useful information is available to support you to self-quarantine. There is an Australian Government COVID-19 app in android and Apple where you can register your quarantine.

We understand that many people are interested in understanding how to prove that they have been observing quarantine requirements. Appropriate processes for this are currently being developed and we will share them as soon as they are available. In the meantime, at the minimum, download the mobile app and register your quarantine arrangements if you are required to quarantine. Police checks will be conducted.

What if I am coming from interstate to the Gove airport?

If you are travelling on an interstate flight to Nhulunbuy (that is, from Cairns to Gove), you will be required to serve an additional two weeks quarantine once you arrive in Nhulunbuy. When you arrive at the airport, you will be required to confirm that you understand the requirements to self-quarantine and confirm the address at which you will be completing your 14 day self-quarantine period. Interstate or domestic travel requirements are detailed here.

Will I be forced to quarantine?

Forced quarantine applies to people entering the Northern Territory:

  • from overseas (since 28 March 2020), and
  • from interstate (will be in place from 11:59pm on 1 April 2020).

From 3 April 2020, all people entering the Northern Territory from interstate or overseas will be required to pay for their quarantine costs.

How is the requirement to self-quarantine being enforced?

NT Police and the Centre for Disease Control are responsible for monitoring compliance of those individuals who are required to self-quarantine. If you witness non-compliant behaviour by a person who is required to be self-quarantining, please call 131 444.

What if I still have questions about my travel?

For specific advice about your circumstances please call the Remote Travel Hotline on 1800 518 189.


If you deliver an essential service within the East Arnhem designated biosecurity area, you may apply for status as an Approved Remote Essential Worker (AREW). Please note that different requirements apply for travel to and within Groote Eylandt.

How do I apply to become an AREW?

The application process for AREWs is still being refined. To submit your application, you will need:

  1. An individual or organisation COVID-19 plan to ensure that you minimise contact with community members (this may be an organisational plan or an individual plan)
  2. Completed application forms, including photographic ID and a photo for your AREW card.

You should submit then completed materials as directed online. Please be sure to check the website and follow the latest advice on how to apply for an AREW.

How long does the AREW application process take?

At this stage, please allow at least 5 business days to process your AREW. If your application for an AREW is urgent, please ensure that you cc when you submit your application.

I am already within the East Arnhem designated biosecurity area – do I need an AREW to travel within it?

If you are a non-Yolngu person who delivers an essential service in remote communities, even if you do not move outside of Nhulunbuy you will need an AREW, which you may obtain using the process above.

Non-Yolngu people are not permitted to move outside the township of Nhulunbuy without a Dhimurru permit and/or and NLC permit. Only Approved Remote Essential Workers, with a valid NLC permit, can travel to the remote communities and homelands.

What if I am an essential worker coming from interstate?

In addition to the requirements above for an AREW, if you are coming from interstate you will need to apply for an exemption from border controls so that you can perform your essential service as soon as you arrive, without the need to self-quarantine.

How do I prepare a COVID-19 plan for my organisation or myself?

In advance of specific Northern Territory Government advice on COVID-19 plan (also called a ‘pandemic plan’) requirements, Developing East Arnhem Limited (DEAL) has developed guidance material to assist you in preparing your plan. This is now available on the DEAL COVID-19 business update hub. DEAL is also able to support businesses which need further assistance in developing COVID-19/pandemic plans or on other COVID-19 matters such as business continuity planning.

DEAL is leading regional business-related updates on COVID-19 – If you wish to be notified when new information if available, subscribe to DEAL’s mailing list, follow DEAL on social media or email

NOTE: While this information is current at the time of sending, the most up to date information and advice about the Northern Territory’s response to COVID-19 is available at If you require specific advice about your circumstances, please call the Remote Travel Hotline on 1800 518 189.

East Arnhem Covid 19 Team –

Remote Travel Hotline 1800–518-189

Coronavirus Hotline 1800-020-080

NT Police Compliance Number 131-444