Gove/Nhulunbuy – Overview & Things to See and Do
Nhulunbuy (pronounced Nool-un-boy) is situated on the Gove Peninsula. If you plan to travel by road, the Central Arnhem Road requires trekking over many Yolngu Clan lands and so a permit from the Northen Land Council (NLC) is required. There is no cost for this permit at this stage but it is necessary to preserve the area and monitor the numbers of people on the track. Permits can be obtained from the NLC office in Nhulunbuy by phoning +61 8 8987 2602. You will have to substantiate where you are staying once you arrive, i.e have booked accommodation or staying with friends or relatives in Gove.
The Central Arnhem Road leaves the Stuart Highway 52kms south of Katherine. There are two major river crossings: the Wilton River near Bulman Aboriginal Community and the Goyder River, about 300kms from Nhulunbuy. Flooded rivers cut Gove off during the wet. Alternatively year round access to Gove is by air with daily flights leaving Darwin and Cairns.
Once you arrive in Nhulunbuy, it is necessary to obtain a visitors permit from Dhimurru Land Management for a nominal fee. This will then allow you to travel to recreation areas designated on your permit map where bush camping is available. There is no facilities or amenities at these areas and carrying fresh water and fuel is essential.
Nhulunbuy was built in the early 1970s to service the bauxite mine managed by Nabalco. The mine is located 15 kilometres away and does not impinge on the town.
The local environment is perfect for most outdoor pursuits, particularly during the dry season from May to October when residents enjoy a typical tropical climate of cool, cloudless and balmy conditions with day time temperatures of between 28-30 degrees Celsius.
Things to See and Do
Sightseeing: With its striking coastline, clear blue waters, glistening white beaches, secluded bays and abundant offshore islands and reefs, this region on the edge of the Arafura Sea is beautiful and pristine.
Fishing: Recreational fishing is big on the Gove Peninsula and offers many options . You can throw in a line in from a coastal outcrop, a pristine beach or take a boat charter trip to an uninhabited island or one of the fish-rich reefs that fringe the peninsula. The seas surrounding Gove boast some of the best tropical sport and reef fishing opportunities available anywhere in the world and the area is now being acclaimed as one of the last great fishing frontiers. The region’s favourite offshore destinations include the Bromby and Wessel Island chains.
Gove Yacht Club: on the shores of Melville Bay is a great spot for a drink and a feed. Great views of Gove Harbour from the lawns of the Yacht Club. A perfect place to relax and discuss the ones that got away!
Snorkelling & Diving: Diving is another popular pursuit, with the abundant colourful coral outcrops in the crystal clear waters offshore from Gove and its adjacent islands. Opportunities exist for drift, deep and multi-level diving, though locals strongly recommend that these be pursued in the company of an experienced dive charter operator who can provide advice on how to keep safe in these remote waters.
Nhulunbuy has a well-established dive centre providing all necessary equipment and tank refilling facilities and also offering a range of snorkelling and scuba diving courses for the uninitiated or less experienced. Bookings Available through Gover Dive & Fishing +61 8 8987 3445
Aboriginal Culture: Eco/cultural tours are also available and are an interesting way to learn about this unique region and the Yolngu people (Yolngu is the name that the local Aboriginal people use to refer to themselves, it is not a name of a particular language group). It is important to remember that Yolngu solely own the entire Arnhem Land region and it is important to respect the access restrictions this brings. Arnhem Land is one of the few areas in Australia where Aboriginal people still live a traditional life and maintain a strong culture. Bookings available through the Walkabout Lodge on +61 8 8987 1777
The annual Garma Festival is a celebration of local aboriinal culture and if you are in the area it is a must do. A high profile event that brings politicians and VIP’s from around the country.
Mine Tour: There is a free bauxite mine and plant tour each Friday morning leaving from the Endeavour Square bus stop, which gives an informative look at the local mining operations. Bookings are essential on +61 8 8987 5345.