Introducing Eastern Arnhem Land
The wildly beautiful coast and country of Eastern Arnhem Land (www.ealta.org) is really off the beaten track. About 4000 people live in the region's main settlement, Nhulunbuy, built to service the bauxite mine here. The 1963 plans to establish a manganese mine were hotly protested by the traditional owners, the Yolngu people; though mining proceeded, the case became an important step in establishing land rights. Some of the country's most respected art comes out of this region too, including bark paintings, carved mimi figures, yidaki (didgeridoo), woven baskets and mats, and jewellery.
Nambara Arts & Crafts Aboriginal Gallery sells art and crafts from northeast Arnhem Land and often has artists in residence. Buku Larrnggay Mulka Art Centre & Museum, 20km southeast of Nhulunbuy in Yirrkala, is one of Arnhem Land's best. No permit is required to visit from Nhulunbuy or Gove airport.
Overland travel through Arnhem Land from Katherine requires a permit (free) from the Northern Land Council. The Dhimurru Land Management Aboriginal Corporation issues recreation permits ($35/45 for seven days/two months) for visits to particular recreation areas in Eastern Arnhem Land − check the website for details.