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Visiting our Communities

People travel to West Arnhem Land for different reasons; starting employment in the region, a fishing trip or being contracted to carry out a project or service. As this part of the Top End is extraordinarily unique, there are a few things to know before entering Arnhem Land or Kakadu National Park.

Do I need a permit?

You require a permit to visit the Aboriginal lands in Arnhem Land which are arranged through the Northern Land Council (NLC) – the peak body representing Aboriginal landowners in the top end. This includes work and recreational visits. If you are working in Arnhem Land, your employer must arrange a working permit from the NLC. Please contact the NLC directly for Arnhem Land permits. Please check with the NLC for any ceremonial closures which may be in place before you travel.


Do I need a permit to visit Kakadu National Park?

If you are visiting recreationally from interstate (outside of the NT), you must obtain a Kakadu National Park pass upon entry. If you are living and working in Jabiru, a Park pass is not required. For more information, please contact Bowali Visitor Centre on (08) 8938 1120.


What are the road conditions like?

Driving in the Top End can be challenging due to animals, changing road conditions, flooding, unsealed and corrugated road surfaces. While the road between Darwin and Jabiru is sealed, most roads within Arnhem Land and Kakadu National Park are not and four-wheel-drive is recommended. Access to Gunbalanya and Maningrida is restricted during the wet season, and the only access to these communities is by air. The island communities of Warruwi and Minjilang are only accessible by air. Regular air charters visit all communities including Kakadu Air, Gunbalanya Air, Air Frontier, Arafura Air, Air North and Fly Tiwi. Some roads or communities will be closed for ceremonial reasons, so check with the Northern Land Council first.


Is their short term accommodation for workers including contractors?
West Arnhem Regional Council provides short term visitor accommodation for contractors and service providers in Gunbalanya, Maningrida, Minjilang and Warruwi. It you are visiting a community for work purposes, you must arrange appropriate permits directly with the Northern Land Council and follow all requirements as per your permit.


What is the weather like?
The weather patterns in the top end are generally categorised as:

  • The ‘dry season’ – generally between April and September, temperatures range between 21 to 33 degree Celsius, with low humidity and little rain.
  • The ‘build up’ – generally between October and November, temperatures range between 24 to 40 degrees Celsius and humidity is very high, with afternoon thunder and lightning.
  • The ‘wet season’ – generally between December and March, temperatures range between 24 to 36 degrees Celsius with high humidity and frequent heavy monsoon rain.

It is important to check the weather forecast before you travel as road conditions or flight paths can change.


What are the main services available in Jabiru and West Arnhem Land communities?
Essential services such as a health centre, food store, school, Power and Water, service station and airstrip are present in all WARC communities. There is also a creche, landfill, playground and short-term accommodation in the communities. View specific communities profiles on Bushtel.


What telecommunication services are available in Jabiru and West Arnhem Land?
Telstra and Optus are the main telecommunications providers in the region. Please note: There is very little phone service beyond the community settlements so always be well-prepared and carry essentials. NBN is available in Jabiru.


What freight services are available?
Northline, TOLL and AJ Couriers provide regular freight services to Jabiru and Gunbalanya (dry season only). Freight services to Maningrida, Warruwi and Minjilang are by barge (including Barge Express and Sea Swift) and air services only (including Kakadu Air, Gunbalanya Air, Air Frontier, Arafura Air and Fly Tiwi).


Can I rent or buy a property in Jabiru or West Arnhem Land?
There is no private rental market in Jabiru and West Arnhem Land communities, so unless you have made other arrangements, obtaining accommodation is very difficult. Jabiru Property Services manages a pool of residential properties in Jabiru, however in most cases, you must receive housing through your employer to live in Jabiru or West Arnhem Land communities. 


Are there vet services in West Arnhem Land and Kakadu?
There are no permanent veterinarians in Jabiru or West Arnhem Land communities, however West Arnhem Regional Council facilitates a region-wide animal management program with periodical vet visits to all communities. The program covers a range of free treatments and procedures. Please ask Council staff for dates on upcoming vet visits.


Is there public transport?
Barefoot Bus & Katherine Coaches provide a transport bus service between Jabiru, Gunbalanya and Darwin only.


How do I get my mail in community?
Australia Post operates in Jabiru and all West Arnhem Land communities. Please see your local Council Office for more information.


What recreational activities are available?
Jabiru and West Arnhem Land communities are all situated on Aboriginal Lands, so it is important to respect the lands on which we live and work, but also to enjoy the spectacular locations and landscapes. Recreational past times in West Arnhem and Kakadu include fishing, bushwalking, bike riding, arts and crafts and organised community sports, activities and events. Please check before you go off any main road or track as many places are restricted.