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Also known as Oenpelli, Gunbalanya is a large remote town situated about 60km north east of Jabiru, across the East Alligator River in Arnhem Land. Gunbalanya has a population of around 1,200 and the main language spoken is Kunwinjku.

With the presence of indigenous people in the region prior to his arrival, Paddy Cahill arrived and established a farm within the area in the early 1900s. A mission was later established in the 1920s.

The area around Gunbalanya is known as Stone Country, a name inspired by the spectacular Arnhem Land escarpment and rock formations that emerge from the floodplains surrounding the town.

The main road link out of Gunbalanya to the Arnhem Highway is often closed during the wet season, when the East Alligator River becomes impassable. The town is, however, serviced by a tarmac airstrip.

West Arnhem Regional Council provides a range of core local services in Gunbalanya, including sport, recreation and youth programs, employment programs, community safety, and community services. The town also has an arts centre, supermarket, service station and licensed community sports club. Gunbalanya Community School provides schooling from preschool to Year 12.


Community overview


1,177 (2021 Census)


300km east of Darwin and 60km north east of Jabiru across the East Alligator River in Arnhem Land.

Languages spoken

Kunwinjku, English.


Gunbalanya is a major Aboriginal town in Arnhem Land, with a school (pre-school to Year 12), health clinic, service station and convenience store, supermarket, police station, crèche facilities, aged care, sports and social club, butcher and community arts centre.


25-metre swimming pool, fishing, boating, hiking, arts and craft, sports ovals, youth centre and basketball facilities.


Year-round via air charter from Jabiru Airport.
Dry season (May-Sept): Road access.
Wet season (Oct-Apr): The river crossing at Cahill’s Crossing, East Alligator River, is usually impassable.

More information

Gunbalanya Council Office on (08) 8970 3700 or email

Visitor Accommodation

West Arnhem Regional Council offers Visitor Accommodation Services to contractors and other authorised visitors to West Arnhem communities at commercial rates.

Gunbalanya Community Care

Gunbalanya Community Care is available to community members who are over 50 years old. We provide aged care and disability service support including meals, personal care, transport, centre-based activities and more. We are proud to be able to provide our services with all indigenous staff.

For more information, please see our staff at the centre all phone 08 8970 3709.