About Nhulunbuy

  • Population: 3,350 (estimate)
  • Postcodes: 0880 and 0881
  • Location: 1,044km from Darwin (driving), 12km from Yirrkala, 730km from Katherine
  • Average maximum temperature: 31 degrees Celsius
  • Average minimum temperature: 22 degrees Celsius
  • Average annual rainfall: 1,467mm

The town of Nhulunbuy is the main population centre in the East Arnhem Land region and was established in 1971 when the bauxite mine and alumina refinery were originally constructed.

Nhulunbuy and its surrounding areas are Indigenous-owned private lands, with the township, mine, refinery and other areas covered by special leases.

While 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.

With a population of around 3,350, Nhulunbuy has all the facilities expected in a modern town, including three schools, a district hospital, two shopping centres, two childcare centres, resturants and sporting facilities. It also hosts a surf club, boat club and golf club with a nine-hole course.

Located 650kms due east of Darwin and 3,200 km's north west of Sydney, Nhulunbuy (pronounced Nool-un-boy) is named after a large hill, which is also a sacred site, in the centre of the town, known by the local Yolgnu people as Nhulun.

Nhulunbuy is accessible by four-wheel-drive vehicle and via regular commercial flights from Darwin or Cairns with Airnorth. The overland journey to Darwin is approximately 1,044kms (via Katherine) largely on unsealed roads which are closed in the wet season. Permits are required for this journey.

The wet season traditionally runs from November to April, when the maximum daytime temperature averages between 31 and 35 degrees Celsius, and the nights are warm. Rainfall averages between 100 and 300mm a month and humidity is high. The build-up to the wet season can be hot and humid with tropical storms and the occasional cyclone.

The dry season runs from May to October, with a maximum daytime temperature between 28 and 30 degrees, cool nights of 15 to 18 degrees and monthly rainfall rarely exceeding 50mm.

To take advantage of the long summer, recreational activities are high on the agenda in Nhulunbuy. A number of clubs offer a range of sports for both adults and children. The friendly social atmosphere at sporting events makes Nhulunbuy the type of town where residents and visitors can give anything a go.

If you’ve ever wanted to catch a barramundi, sail off into the distance or explore the mysteries of the deep, the Gove Peninsula is the place for you. Located on the edge of the Arafura Sea, the waters offer a plentiful supply of marine life. Fishing trips can be arranged through local charter services.

Arnhem Land art and craft gains worldwide recognition. The Gove Peninsula has an outstanding art centre at Yirrakala – Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Art Centre.

Where artists from other Arnhem Land regions have moved to painting with acrylic on canvas, the artists of North East Arnhem Land continue to colour their sacred designs with the natural media of ochres on bark. This not only reflects the sanctity of their connection with the land they paint but is also an artistic discipline that is recognised internationally.

The Gove Peninsula is also home to the didgeridoo – known to the local Yolngu people as the Yidaki – and the Yolngu are masters players and craftsmen of this instrument.