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By Nicky Way

In Nhulunbuy there's only one road in and one road out. The town is isolated to say the least, but probably because of this you'll find a very tight-knit community in this Arnhem Land town.

Established in 1971, Nhulunbuy supports Rio Tinto Alcan's bauxite operation (and once supported major aluminium operations too). Substantial fishing and pearling industries are located here as well as a small tourism industry.  The community is a regular stopover for naval, customs and coast watch vessels and it has become a regional centre for local and state government services.

Nhulunbuy is so remote that permits are needed to travel on the dirt roads that lead to the town and it’s only accessible by 4WD during the dry season. In the wet season it’s impossible to reach by road. There are daily flights from Darwin and Cairns into the community - but don’t think you can just take off and go live there. This is a closed mining town, meaning there’s very limited accommodation to buy or rent unless you work for Rio Tinto Alcan (subsidised housing for workers) or are a key government employee (housing provided by NT housing). So when your employment ends, so does your time in the town. 

While you’re in town, you’ll find all of the services you’ll need. For such a small population there’s a good range of education and childcare services and support networks including two public and one private school, an early learning centre, a playgroup and a mother’s group for pre-schoolers.

The retail options aren’t too shabby either.  Nhulunbuy is home to Woolworths, Westpac bank, IGA/Mitre 10, a sports store and other specialty shops.

All of your basic health care needs are catered for at the local hospital, dentist and private doctor’s surgery.  You can also chill out and relax in your down time at any one of a number of sporting and leisure activities. 

There are three different places to eat including the Arnhem Club and the Walkabout Hotel. If you’re into sport you’ll be kept very busy. There’s a golf, surf and yacht club as well as rugby league, AFL, soccer, netball and tennis, swimming and BMX to get involved in.

A lot of the sports played in Nhulunbuy can be found at The Arnhem Club and Hindle Oval.  The Speedway is also a popular social and sporting venue. Unique to the area is the aquatic centre - Nhulunbuy Town Pool gives all local residents 24-hour key access, all year round.  

But if you don’t like sport you could head out to one of the local events. The Nhulunbuy Corporation runs a number of events including Australia and Territory Day celebrations and NCL Art & Craft markets.  Other major events in the community are the Gove Peninsula Festival, Rotary Beach Volleyball and Make-A-Wish Masquerade Ball.

With so much to do in this small NT town, you’re sure to forget about your isolated location.  Just sit back, relax and let yourself be embraced by the tight-knit community that is Nhulunbuy.

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"My family has lived here for one year now and we enjoy the many fishing, crabbing, swimming and camping spots available to us. The 4WD tracks are great and can become very challenging in the wet. It’s a great place to raise young children. The Nhulunbuy Town Corporation regularly puts on movie nights at the local oval, and the town markets held once a month are a great social activity."

- Joe, Nhulunbuy

Ever lived in Nhulunbuy? Tell us what you think...