Sunday, 05 April 2020 Sydney

Visit, Live & Invest in West Arnhem::

West Arnhem Regional Council covers an area of almost 50,000 square kilometres of stunning natural landscape in the western part of Arnhem Land, Northern Territory. 


More than two thirds of the Regional Council’s population of nearly 7000 identify as Aboriginal Australians, who reside in a vibrant collection of towns, communities and outstations.


The Council provides a range of local government services to five towns and communities across four wards. The Aboriginal communities of Minjilang and Warruwi are located in Barrah Ward, Maningrida community in Maningrida Ward, and Gunbalanya community in Gunbalanya Ward. The town of Jabiru, which was established to service the nearby Ranger uranium mine, is situated in Kakadu Ward which also includes the World Heritage listed Kakadu National Park. 


Residents of the four wards elect three representatives – or Councillors - per ward, and the twelve Councillors sit as the West Arnhem Regional Council on a monthly basis at the headquarters in Jabiru.


There are many popular tourist destinations within the Council boundaries, including stunning outback landscapes, colourful rock escarpments, glorious wetlands and picture-perfect beaches. The cultural legacy of the Aboriginal people of the Northern Territory is evident in the various forms of rock art to be found in caves and rock overhangs. One of the richest areas of rock art is located within Kakadu National Park, the traditional lands of the Gagudju people, in the West Arnhem Regional Council.


The sensational mix of flora, fauna and wildlife, alongside the rich and diverse culture on display, provides a spectacular visual experience for the visitor and residents to this part of Australia.






Also known as Oenpelli, Gunbalanya is a large Aboriginal town situated about 60km north east of Jabiru, across the East Alligator River in Arnhem Land.


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 township of Gunbalanya was first settled by the pioneering Paddy Cahill, who established a farm in the region in the early 1900s. A mission was later established in the 1920s. These days Gunbalanya has a population of approximately 1200, and the main language spoken is Kunwinjku.


The main road link out of Gunbalanya to Jabiru (and on to Darwin) is often closed during the wetter months as the East Alligator River becomes impassable. The town is, however, serviced by a tarmac airstrip.


West Arnhem Regional Council provides a range of essential services in Gunbalanya, including the provision of power, water and housing maintenance on behalf of government agencies; sport, recreation and youth programs; employment programs;  community safety and community services.


West Arnhem College also operates in Gunbalanya, providing schooling from preschool to Year 12. The town also has a youth centre, arts centre, supermarket, service station and licensed community sports club.


Click here for information of the Gunbalanya Local Authority.




Want to know what it's like living in Jabiru? Jabiru is the major township in the World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park, about 250km south east of Darwin.


Jabiru was established at its current site in 1982 to service the nearby Ranger uranium mine. The town is now also the heart of Kakadu and the gateway to Arnhem Land.


The town provides visitors with access to a range of tourist and accommodation options, and a range of other services including access to fuel, dining options, automotive repairs, banking, a health clinic, a supermarket, and sport and recreation facilities including a 9-hole golf course.


West Arnhem Regional Council also operates a popular 50-metre swimming pool, library service, and a recreation park with playground and barbecue facilities on the shore of the picturesque Lake Jabiru.


West Arnhem College Jabiru campus is located in the town, and takes students from Preschool to Year 12 from the town of Jabiru, and surrounding Aboriginal outstations and homelands.


Click here for more information about services the Council provides in Jabiru: 

- Jabiru Library
- Jabiru Swimming Pool
- Jabiru Childcare Centre


Mahbilil Festival & Gurrung Sports Carnival


The Mahbilil Festival is the premier cultural event on Jabiru’s calendar, bringing together a range of local Aboriginal and balanda (non-Aboriginal Australian) arts and crafts, food stalls, entertainment, parades, market stalls and installations. It is run in conjunction with West Arnhem Regional Council’s Gurrung Sports Carnival, which brings men’s AFL and women’s basketball teams to Jabiru from all four Aboriginal communities in the Regional Council, as well as teams from Darwin and further afar. The Carnival showcases the incredible sporting talent of local residents and provides a platform for residents to participate in a healthy, safe carnival atmosphere.


Kakadu Triathlon


Take the plunge, ride it out, and do the hard yards!


One of Jabiru's most popular community events, the Kakadu Triathlon is held in late May each year, marking the beginning of the tourist season in Kakadu. Participants, spectators and volunteers alike come together for this early morning event that gets underway at the Alberto Luglietti Memorial Swimming Pool in Jabiru, with a 250m swim, a 10km bike ride and a 2.5km run.


Since its inception in 2013 the Kakadu Triathlon has raised funds for the aeromedical charity CareFlight while promoting healthy lifestyles.


To receive notifications and to be in the running for the next Kakadu Triathlon, join the Kakadu Triathlon facebook page.




Are you moving to Jabiru? Thinking about living in Kakadu or living in Jabiru? Download the 'Welcome to Jabiru' handbook here.




Minjilang is the name of the Aboriginal town on Croker Island, situated just off the Coburg Peninsula approximately 250km north east of Darwin.


Situated in the luminescent Arafura Sea, Croker Island is home to abundant wildlife and flora that inhabit the beaches, wetlands and swamps and expansive native bushland.


Approximately 300 people live on Croker Island, of whom 150 are the only speakers of the Iwaidja language. Other major languages spoken are Maung, Kunwinjku and English.


West Arnhem Regional Council provides a range of local government services in Minjilang including road maintenance and repair, upkeep of parks and gardens, sport and recreation services, as well as providing access to Centrelink, community care programs and after-school care on behalf of other government agencies.


Click here for information on the Minjilang Local Authority.




Maningrida is one of the largest Aboriginal towns in the Northern Territory. It is situated approximately 500km east of Darwin in Arnhem Land, at the mouth of the Liverpool River.


A permanent settlement was established there in the late 1940s, originally as a trading post with Aboriginals in the area, and this was converted into a mission during the 1950s.


According to the Northern Territory Place Names Committee, the name Maningrida is an Anglicised version of the Kunibídji name Manayingkarírra, which comes from the phrase Mane djang karirra, meaning "the place where the Dreaming changed shape."


These days, the town is the major service centre for the region, with a school, health clinic, multiple food outlets and two supermarkets, service station, arts centre, creche, and a tarmac airport, with commercial flights operating daily to Darwin.


Small-scale tourism ventures, including cultural tours and fishing expeditions, operate out of Maningrida.  Apart from the town's population of approximately 2300, Maningrida also services about 30 outstations or homelands in the region.


West Arnhem Regional Council provides a range of services in Maningrida, including local government services, sport and recreation programs, rubbish collection and removal, parks and gardens maintenance, as well as providing housing maintenance and services on behalf of other government agencies. The Council also operates a 25-metre swimming pool in the town.


Click here for information on the Maningrida Local Authority.




Warruwi is the main township on South Goulburn Island, approximately 300km east of Darwin at the eastern base of the Coburg Peninsula.


The island has a stunning mix of natural landscapes including pristine beaches, rocky outcrops and sweeping marshlands, harbouring an abundance of wildlife including crocodiles, fish, dugong, turtle, oysters, crayfish, mud crab and stingrays.


The community has approximately 500 residents who speak a mix of languages, including Mawng, Walang, Kunwinjku and English.


West Arnhem Regional Council provides a range of local government services in Warruwi including road maintenance and repair, upkeep of parks and gardens, sport and recreation services, as well as providing access to Centrelink, a crèche, community care programs and after-school care on behalf of other government agencies.


The Council also organises the annual Jamalak Festival, which celebrates the history and culture of Warruwi. The Jamalak Festival is held every August.


Click here for information on the Warruwi Local Authority.  

Jamalak Festival


Every August the residents of South Goulburn Island and West Arnhem Land converge on Warruwi for Jamalak Festival. The Festival celebrates the people, culture and history of Warruwi, including the original Aboriginal inhabitants, the establishment of a settlement on the island in 1916 by Reverend Watson, through to today’s vibrant community culture. Reverend Watson arrived in Gunbalanya in 1914, and two years later he ventured north to the Gouldburn Island, establishing a church there in 1916. Jamalak Festival is a unique community celebration including local sports, arts and cultural activities, food and festivities.



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