Travelling the Great Arnhem Road and Nhulunbuy

Turtle Beach Ngumuy - 20000ksinacampertrailer
Turtle Beach Ngumuy - 20000ksinacampertrailer

The designated biosecurity areas in the Northern Territory have been lifted as of June 5, 2020. At this stage, due to Covid-19, individual recreation permits to enter Aboriginal land will not be issued , with the exception of residents and tourism businesses with access or leases. We have learnt that portions of the Great Arnhem Road, a noted 4WD track in Australia will be sealed in the next year. Please contact authorities to obtain permits before you leave and note that wildlife may visit these locations! Any body of water in the Top End may contain large and potentially dangerous crocodiles – please be crocwise.

With tips and photos from a Guest Blogger

To learn that the road to Nhulunbuy is to be substantially upgraded comes with mixed feelings. We have driven this road a few times and never found it a problem unless the rain set in but always got through. As with all roads the conditions will vary from time to time but driving habits of some was always a concern. We have been overtaken via the left shoulder drain on more than one occasion.

We were last there over a couple years ago now, family worked in Nhulunbuy and gave us the opportunity to visit this amazingly beautiful part of our country several times and take in the experience of many camps and tracks. Most locals would start before daybreak and complete the trip in one day. We have stopped at Mainoru Store and the campground is quite specious and has fuel and facilities. It is worth checking out the view from a lookout along your way to Mainoru. You will mainly see buffalo, but we have seen goats, donkeys, horses, pigs and an emu.

There are many sites that are of interest and you should look at staying at least a month in this area, if you want to enjoy the beauty and remoteness of this paradise.

Must-Dos to Experience:

Enroute to Cape Arnhem
Enroute to Cape Arnhem

Wanuwuy (Cape Arnhem) 

This spectacular peninsula is 50 km east of Nhulunbuy. With cliffs, sand dunes, views and beaches. Numbers of vehicles are limited and beach driving is required. Camping areas include picnic tables and fireplaces. There is one toilet available on the track. Tents only.

Arnhem land - Macassans Beach
Macassans Beach

Garanhan (Macassan Beach)

This NT site is 37 km south east of Nhulunbuy. It has toilets, picnic tables and is pet friendly. There are fascinating ‘stone pictures’ here whose history can be learnt from the interpretative signage.

Memorial Gapuru 20,000 ks in a Camper Trailer
Memorial Gapuru 20,000 ks in a Camper Trailer

Gapuru (Memorial Park)

This amazing site you have all to yourself, as there are only five vehicles maximum, from the same party. Next to freshwater rockpools, there is a picnic table, fireplace and toilet. No phone reception or potable water, and it is located 65 km from Nhulunbuy.

Arnhem land - Rainbow Cliff
Rainbow Cliff

Banambarrnga (Rainbow Cliffs)

This NT site is 10 km south east of Nhulunbuy with a toilet, picnic tables and fireplaces. Limited mobile coverage and pet friendly. The weathered rock profile of the cliff-face produces a striking colourful effect.

Arnhem land - Rainbow Cliff camping
Rainbow Cliff camping

Lunch at The Boat Club next to Manyimi Campground

Gove Boat Club is a family favourite for sunsets, play areas, and views with a brew or meal. Manyimi Campground is located here and has powered sites, water, toilets, showers and laundry. Check out the boat and yacht wrecks near The Boat Club (a couple of yacht masts are still visible above the water in the bay).

East Woody Galuru - 20000ksinacampertrailer
East Woody Galuru - 20000ksinacampertrailer

Dhamitjinya (East Woody Island)

Walk at low tide along Galuru (East Woody Beach) to the Island – it takes about 10 minutes with 360 degree views. You can watch the sun rise and set from the same location, plus it is only four km from town. Day-use only.

Giddies Guwatjurumurru - 20000ksinacampertrailer
Giddies Guwatjurumurru - 20000ksinacampertrailer

Guwatjurumurru (Giddy River)

NT site 147 is 55 km SW of Nhulunbuy. Travel through bushland over creek crossings to small gorges, cascades and waterholes – even a small waterfall! Both sides of the river, the camping areas have picnic tables and fire places.

Ganami (Wonga Creek)

You can camp at a waterhole on this freshwater creek, 57 km from Nhulunbuy. You may not be the only inhabitants – so do be crocwise. Another exclusive booking site, 5 vehicles maximum from the same party. No phone reception or potable water. Tents only.

NT Latram River Wathawuy ARNHEM 20,000 ks in a Camper Trailer
NT Latram River Wathawuy ARNHEM 20,000 ks in a Camper Trailer

Wathawuy (Latram River and Goanna Lagoon)

Half an hour from town, Wathawuy stream is shallow with deep waterholes and cascades. It is sometimes closed in Monsoon season. Day use and camping areas are located at both areas with picnic tables and fireplaces. One compost toilet is at Latram River and Goanna Lagoon.

Baringura (Little Bondi Beach)

This NT site is 41 km south east of Nhulunbuy. It has a toilet, is dog friendly. The beach is a stretch of white sand with rolling sand dunes.

Turtle Beach Ngumuy - 20000ksinacampertrailer

Ngumuy (Turtle Beach)

This NT site is 40 km south east of Nhulunbuy. Shade, a toilet, fireplaces and dog friendly. The local’s favourite!

Scout Camp Manangaymi - 20000ksinacampertrailer
Scout Camp Manangaymi - 20000ksinacampertrailer

Manangaymi (Scout Camp)

48 kms SW of Nhulunbuy. Amongst the trees, beside a waterfall and waterholes. There’s one toilet, with five vehicles maximum from different groups.–special-permit-areas.html

Baku-Larrnggay Mulka Centre

If you stop at this centre in Yirrkala, you nearly always see ladies painting.

Dhimurru Aboriginal Corporation

Located in Nhulunbuy, this organisation is a valuable source of information and also issue relevant permits.

Arnhem land - Sunrise on the Cato River
Sunrise on the Cato River

Take a charter

If you have an opportunity, a fishing trip will have you returning with a feed for sure. Nothing better than fresh Nannygai on the BBQ.

Garma Festival

If you are there in July-August, the Garma Festival is an opportunity to see the culture of the local communities.

You need a permit to travel the Central Arnhem Road which is obtained from the Northern Land Council, then when you reach Nhulunbuy you need a further permit from Dhimurru Aboriginal Corporation to access sites and camps in the area. The Dhimurru website and booking system have been restructured as of 1st July 2020, meaning that permits and pricing have changed and we are now able to purchase permits online and in advance. A Visitor Access Permit and Camping Permit are required for camping in this area. Please refer to their website for further information –

Central Arnhem Road is seasonal and more suitable to high-clearance 4WD vehicles and camper trailers. For road conditions phone 1800 246 199. If you have an offshore boat, you will see areas not accessible by vehicle. How we miss the fishing and mud crabs!

Find this site and more in the new CAMPS Pendium, Camps 11 and Camps Australia Wide App.

Images by 20000ksinacampertrailer and anonymous contributors

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Central Arnhem Road - Image 20000ksinacampertrailer
Central Arnhem Road - Image 20000ksinacampertrailer
Central Arnhem Road - Image 20000ksinacampertrailer
Central Arnhem Road - Image 20000ksinacampertrailer
Granites Ganinyara 20,000k in a Camper Trailer
Granites Ganinyara 20,000k in a Camper Trailer
Granites 20,000 ks in a Camper Trailer
Granites 20,000 ks in a Camper Trailer
Memorial Gapuru 20,000 ks in a Camper Trailer
Memorial Gapuru 20,000 ks in a Camper Trailer
Memorial Gapuru 20,000 ks in a Camper Trailer
Memorial Gapuru 20,000 ks in a Camper Trailer
Memorial Gapuru 20,000 ks in a Camper Trailer
Memorial Gapuru 20,000 ks in a Camper Trailer
Arnhem land - Memorial Park
Memorial Park
Track to Macassan Garanhan - 20000ksinacampertrailer
Track to Macassan Garanhan - 20000ksinacampertrailer


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